Belgian soldiers who died abroad and were buried in France
Our army fought alongside the French army against the German invader and occupier. The border between Belgium and France was not really important as long as the German monster could be stopped.
Many of our troops ended up in French hospitals after injury or illness. Depending on the nature of the injury the time to recover could significantly add. Longterm sick and wounded were therefore transferred to hospitals deep in France. Sometimes that recovery not really came through and the patient died far from his homeland.
During the war the Belgian recruits were trained in France. During this training sometimes accidents happened or young recruits and instructors became seriously ill. Also, remember, the epidemic of Spanish flu in the summer of 1918 made a lot of victims. The confluence of these conditions resulted into the fact that over 3,000 Belgian soldiers and civilian casualties are buried in France at over 200 different cemeteries, even as far from Belgium as in the eastern Pyrenees.
Also at Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery in Paris, lie the remains of 103 Belgian soldiers, victims of the First World War. They are buried under a massive monument. At the French riviera we count in five holiday resort cities a total of 128 Belgian graves.
The cemetery of Calais-Nord is a special case. 1,045 of our heroes are buried in Calais-Nord in a beautiful honorary park maintained by the wargrave department of our ministry of defense, the IV NIOOO. This department was charged with the inventory and maintenance of the graves in our military cemeteries and in municipal cemeteries of our war dead buried abroad.
Furthermore, major concentrations are in Saint-Anne-d'Auray (Morbihan) with 269 graves, Le Havre with 133 graves, Dunkerque with 120 graves, Bourbourg 100 graves, Paris Père Lachaise 103 (mass grave), Montpelier 94, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat 89 graves and Le Mans and Avon-les-Roches each with 76 graves.
Then we fall back on Champagné with 61 graves, Cherbourg with 60 graves and Guemps 56 graves.
The rest of the French cemeteries with Belgian soldiers killed in action have less than 50 graves.
At 62 other cemeteries with each less than 4 Belgian heroes a total of only 91 soldiers are buried.
In some cemeteries, it is not easy to find the Belgian graves. Especially in large cities with honorary parks, sometimes holding several thousands of graves, it can be a long search and a few times without result. When our war dead are buried under the standard Belgian gravestone they are, even in a large mass, pretty easy to spot. But at some cemeteries our boys are buried under the French standard cross or under another stone, selected by the local town, making it extremely difficult to detect them among the heroes from other nations.
In these cases, the only rescue is the presence of the Belgian cockarde with our tricolour. In Montpellier for example, we found that some of our boys were buried under the French cockarde, so because of lack of time we did not find a number of Belgian soldiers. That is why there are sometimes differences with our inventory and the figures given by the IV NIOOO.
The tomb of Louis Cottin, born in Vielsalm, Belgium, is decorated with the French cockarde.
The nameplate does not refer to any Belgian identity.
Louis was a soldier in the Belgian army in the CT/2 DA section - C.A.A. that was responsible for the transport of troops.