Longpont, 1918 : It was nothing but ruins

“On the momentum of their victorious offensive, the German Imperial troops passed through Longpont on September 2, 1914. The villagers chose not to evacuate and suffered for a few days robberies and looting. But the invaders soon withdrew and the frontline established more to the North of the Aisne.

“Then for more than three years, Longpont was crossed by the most varied Allied units: territorial regiments, British troops, cavalry, artillery, ammunition trucks. It was used as an American training camp, an aviation camp on the plateau, even for a War Council set up in the elementary school… until the new enemy breakthrough of May 1918!

“The villagers had to flee to Paris and La Roche-sur-Yon, the Abbey house was burned down and the church bells were melted down.

“Severely damaged, the village was liberated on July 12 by the famous French-African troops called The Zouaves. General Mangin’s 10th Army concentrated there, liberating the occupied farms and preventing the Germans from penetrating the forest. The little Savière river was the frontline to hold!

“At dawn on July 18th, Longpont was one of the starting points of the great Allied counter-offensive. Heavy artillery, tanks, bombing planes, the momentum was so irresistible that Clémenceau and President Poincaré went here to witness the promised victory!

“But Longpont paid a most heavy price: devastated farms, collapsed or burned houses, uprooted trees, upset ground, it was nothing but ruins, except for the old abbey church which still raises its bruised facade…

“It took public aid, the generous sponsorship of Neuilly-sur-Seine, and above all the courage of all for life to resume.

“But fourteen villagers were dead. Their names are on the village War Memorial, along with that tribute:

To the 5 officers and 189 non-commissioned officers, corporals and Zouaves of the 1st Regiment of Zouaves, fallen on July 18, 1918 while liberating Longpont.”