Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Special train to...

To... Senlis!

I found the destination of our special train from La Bibliothèque Nationale de France's Gallica document retrieval system.
To extract anything from the major French newspapers of the WWI era has required a wrestling match with Gallica. I found this to be a slow business compared with, say, the New York Times's smoothly cross-referenced site, but I got a lot better at it as the weeks went on.

The Gallica beta test site Galicalabs gives much more flexible access to BNF's resources. The searches are easier to formulate, and it pays to know that separating words with full stops is the way to search for a particular phrase. Like "train.special".

There are four occurrences of this phrase linked with the name Bourgeois in Gallicalabs. You can find a sample query here

None of these pages is from the publication that supplied our scrap of newsprint, because the surrounding items are different. One (Le Journal of April 3) is identically worded. Le Gaulois of April 4 is the same except "toutes classes" is omitted.. The other two (Le Petit Parisien and La Croix, both of April 4) are clearly the same train, but Bourgeois' address is given as 1, Rue de Helder, 1. La Croix has an extra line "La Glorieuse Mutilée" - the Glorious Maimed. 

The full text of the La Croix ad reads:

Départ Lundi 5 avril, midi 55 Retour 19. h 25
Toutes classes.– Billets et Programme.
Chez G. LE BOURGEOIS, 1, rue du Helder, 1.

La Croix 4 avril 1915

Le Journal 3 avril 1915

Le Petit Parisien 4 avril 1915

Le Gaulois 4 Avril 1915

Why Senlis? This old town in the Oise département of northern France was swept up in the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914. A full description of the battle can be found in the 1917 Michelin Illustrated Guide to the Battlefields 1914 : Battle of the Marne  here in book form or here in scanned text. The Germans, having smashed two armies through Belgium into northern France, were aiming for Paris. The capital was expected to fall "like a plum" into German hands, and the citizens began to flee southwards. But the Germans met unexpected resistance, not just from the French, but the Belgians, a British Expeditionary Force, and a Moroccan brigade. The Germans were driven back to the Somme and the Belgian border towns whose names resonate today: Ieper, Passchendaele ...

The battlefields became a place to visit, the Michelin guide in its description of its itinerary explains why:
" This tour, of which a plan is given below, covers the ground on which the fate of Paris was decided in September 1914.

" In the course of the journey the traveller will live over again the anxious moment when the Germans, having arrived within gunshot of the capital, had to decide whether to continue their irresistible march on Paris or attempt just to put the allied army out of action: he will then reconstruct the tragic struggle which for five days confronted Gallieni, Maunoury and von Kluck.

" The country traversed has the varied scenery of the Ile-de-France ; from the vast forests of Valois, the tourist will come to the fertile up-lands of Brie, intersected by lovely valleys. He will become acquainted with Chantilly, the great Conde's town, afterwards Marshal Joflre's Headquarters; Senlis, a jewel of ancient France, which narrowly escaped the fate of Louvain; Meaux, with its cathedral, its old mills, and the ruins left by the war in the surrounding villages.

" This is the war pilgrimage which should be made by all Parisians and all tourists passing through Paris who have a day or two to spare."

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