Histoire, 2014 232 pages
Edition Imprimerie Pacaud Dunkerque
Between 1914 and 1918, a foreign presence left its mark three times on Bailleul: two German occupations, and a strong British military presence. The rhythm of life in this quiet town of 13,000 inhabitants was marked by its festivals and the seasons. On August 3rd, the town woke up to the sound of the Marseillaise announcing the departure of its young people. Two months later, German boots rang out in the town, spreading confusion and fear. The plunder that followed set the tone for the horrors of the war. On October 14th, another foreign presence replaced the first, as the British, arriving as rescuers, settled down in the town for four years. Life moved at a British pace: we drove on the left, opened tea-rooms, and went hunting… Close to the front at Ypres, the inhabitants of Bailleul saw many contingents come and go, each more colourful than the last. Its proximity to the front turned the town into an immense hospital. Every public building was used, and it was not uncommon to see makeshift hospitals set up under tents. In 1915, the use of poison gas against the town led to the manufacturing of protective masks. The children, their schooling leaving something to be desired, had fun with these and imitated the rhythmical pace of the New Zealand soldiers as they crossed the Grand’ Place. This charming vision did not keep the women from the pain of receiving letters from a son or husband hidden underground in unwholesome trenches, and the postman’s knock was always the source of deep concern. Moreover, these women were at work, as traders or as a labour force in the Bailleul factories, but also for the British military authorities, in particular as carpenters, washerwomen or again in the production of gas masks. In April 1918, Bailleul was a victim of regular bombardments which obliged the inhabitants to flee.
232 pages (21 cm x 29.7 cm), colour and black and white, with many new illustrations from family descendants as well as from museums and libraries.