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Chris Boonzaier

The tragic death of "A Soldier Unafraid".....

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In a letter home Andre Cornet wrote....

“How I would like to feel that you are ready, even before it comes, to make if necessary the sacrifice of my life. How I would like to be able to say to myself: “at least they are ready, and if my death would be painful to them, they are resigned to it, resigned in advance.” I also have moments of impatience, especially when I feel myself so full of youth and strength, when I reflect on all that I have abandoned, of work, hopes, all that the future which was smiling at me, at such moments I wish it were all ended. But this morning I began reflecting on what is the life of an individual in comparison with the general peace of all the nations of Europe, nothing. We all know, those of us on the firing line, that tomorrow or the day after, we too will probably follow the others. Well, so let it be if God wills it…… In fact, as I was just saying to Major Barberot, who left me a moment ago, what are our lives worth when we think of the years of happiness and of peace of those who will follow us and those who may survive us? We labor for tomorrow, in order that there may be no more wars, no more spilling of blood, no more killing, no more wounded, no more mutilated victims; We labor, we whom our mothers will so weep for, in order that other Mamas may never know these bitter tears…. If I must die, I ask but once grace, and that is to die at the head of my company, without my knowing it, from a bullet in my heart. Oh, above all things, may I receive no ball in the abdomen which might cause me to writhe in pain and die little by little.” (1st January 1915)

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"At 4:00am on the 1st of March 1916 a German artillery shell landed behind the French lines, in the Bivouac are the men of the 1st Company. A piece of shrapnel struck Captain André Cornet-Auquier in the thigh. The splinter continued into his abdomen and ruptured his intestines. Taken to a field hospital he was joined by his sister (a military nurse) and his father who were with him when he died on the 2nd of March 1916. Realizing his life was slipping away he murmured “Mama, mama,” then looked at his father, smiled, and said “It must be accepted, one must submit.”

He was buried 2 days later at Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, a large military funeral attended by the Divisional commander. Colonel Baudrand paid him tribute by calling him “A soldier without fear and above reproach” (Un Soldat sans peur et sans reproach).

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A moving piece Chris. Thanks for sharing it.

Fine picture too....

tony

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Dear Chris, 

I just joined the forum. I am the great-nephew of major Barberot, mentioned in your extract. He was André's mentor, promoted him at the head of the 1rst company of his 1rst battalion (133e infantry regiment). I have published Barberot's biography five years ago and have a blog about him and related topics. I did publish a blog post about Cornet-Auquier in 2016 (that I recently refreshed).

I have seen on your post and on the soldier's burden website his identity plate but also the whissel that my great-uncle gave him on January 5th, 1915, and the Croix de guerre that he got from him on June 21, 1915 (after the assault against Cote 830). 

I am wondering who the owner of those objects is. Are you the one ? Is it the family (he had two sisters that married English men). 

Best regards

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1 hour ago, Philippe van M. said:

I did publish a blog post about Cornet-Auquier in 2016 (that I recently refreshed).

Would you be kind enough to post a link to your blog post, please, Philippe?

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Good evening, 

I forgot to mention  that I aslo published a second book, called "En mémoire d'un fils" (In remembrance of a son). It are actually the extended letters of Louis Chevrier de Corcelles, a soldier who served in captain's Cornet-Auquier company. They were very close, and his captain could be considered as a sort of mentor to Louis. He pushed him to become an officer cadet in 1915. Louis died during the battle of the Somme in july 1916, after he joined the 23 infantry regiment. Letters were published after the war but in a limited number of copies (around 80) and could no longer be found. That is the reason I published them in 2018, with additional letters I found, new photos provided by his family and comments. 

Philippe

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