phil andrade Posted 8 November , 2008 Share Posted 8 November , 2008 Two threads on this forum - one of them about "France's worst day", and the other titled " The Machine Guns of Mons?" have induced me to get hold of Terence Zuber's book The Battle of the Frontiers. The losses suffered by the French in this fighting were absolutely appalling, nothing less than catastrophic. Here is a reference Zuber makes to the casualties suffered on August 22nd in the fighting at Rossignol: " The Colonial Corps monument, erected in 1927, is located north of Rossignol where the road enters the woods, and says that on 22 August at Rossignol - St- Vincent 4,083 soldiers from the principal units of DIC " died on the field of honour". There were also 2,379 unknowns, perhaps 75 per cent of which were from the 3 DIC. The total number of 3 DIC dead was probably 6,000. " The 3 DIC, incidentally, is Zuber's method of designation for the Third Colonial Division of Infantry. The passage is from page 104 of his book. Are we to understand that a single division lost six thousand dead in a single day? The monument's commemoration of 4,083 is incredible, but surely authentic. Allowing for additional casualties in wounded and prisoners, it implies the literal annihilation of the entire division - and, it would appear, the damage was inflicted almost entirely by German rifle fire. So much for the BEF's musketry being unique in effectiveness! The division's casualties that day have been estimated at 10,500 killed, wounded and taken prisoner by the French historian Grasset, and the Germans claimed to have taken 3,843 POWs in the action. I have to ask, though, what does Zuber mean by the 2,379 unknowns ? He states that the divisional loss of 4,083 needs to be increased by adding on three quarters of these unknowns - that is not only incredible, it doesn't make sense. Surely the divisional memorial would take into account those missing who were subsequently found to have been killed. Perhaps I've misunderstood the context, or I'm just thick. Maybe Zuber made a mistake. My guess is - and I add this as an edit - that the "unknowns" refer to those buried in a mass grave, or ossuary, and that the commemorated number of 4,083 includes those. In other words, Zuber has counted them twice. Does anyone know about this memorial ? A clarification of what it actually says would be much appreciated. Phil. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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