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Michael Johnson

1914-18 Memorial Certificate

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Many of you are familiar with the French "Hommage de la Nation aux morts de la grande guerre" commemorative scroll, which depicts the Rude sculpture of the Marseillaise from the Arc de Triomphe. I have one of these to a 1915 casualty named Blache of the 140e R.I. and last week I received a second to Danielo of the 348th R.I., a 1916 Verdun casualty.

My eye instantly picked up a difference between the two. The first faithfully follows Rude's sculpture, as the young man in the foreground is starkers. My new one has a strategically-positioned fold of cloth.

I've never thought of the French as being puritannical, but I'm wondering if there was some hesitancy among families to display the Full Monty in a tribute to their lost son? Was it perhaps just a bit too rude?

And speaking of Sdt Danielo, does anyone know what happened to the 348th RI at Douaument June 8, 1916? It lost at least 34 men, many of whom, like Danielo, are listed as "disparu" - no body recovered.

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There really was some hesitancy among many families. Many complaints were sent to the French President, so he decided that the second version should be produced. Families could exchange the old version for the new one.

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