French soldier killed in World War I finally laid to rest

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, November 11, 2013 16:45 EDT
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People gather around a coffin containing the remains of World War I French soldier Jean Caillou on Nov. 11, 2013 in the Cestas church, near Bordeaux. [AFP]
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A French soldier killed in action during World War I was finally laid to rest in his hometown Monday just months after his remains were discovered by chance by German tourists.

Jean Caillou was 41 when he was gunned down in March 1916 near Verdun in the northeast, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the devastating 1914-18 war that claimed the lives of 1.4 million French people.

Married at the time and father of a 12-year-old daughter, his body was transported to a nearby chapel that was subsequently bombed by German forces, said Pierre Ducout, mayor of the southwestern town of Cestas where Caillou was born.

It remained buried for nearly a century until German tourists who had come to visit the historical battle site in May noticed bones just under the surface of the earth.

Experts started excavating the site and unearthed the remains of 26 people, some of whom died wearing their military identification tags, including Caillou, said Gisele Brun, head of the Cestas committee that tends to soldiers’ tombs and war monuments.

“He was born in Cestas, he went to school in Cestas, he got married there,” she said.

His daughter, who died in 1995, had no children and so the soldier has no direct descendants.

A coffin carrying Caillou’s remains and covered with a French flag was buried on Monday, Remembrance Day, in the town, more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) from where he died.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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