Many people know about the tomb of the unknown French soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. How many people, though, know about the tomb of the unknown French soldier, which can be found here in Laeken? As it is November – the traditional month of remembrance – and as it is also 2014 – the 100th anniversary of the first year of the Great War – some readers may be interested perhaps in knowing more about this unique monument. It is unique because it is the only monument of its type to be found outside of France. The monument is located beside the Church of Notre Dame of Laeken, close to the cemetery gates. Note that the eternal flame in front of the monument is a later addition, dating from 1949. The flame was lit from the eternal flame under the Arc de Triomphe, Paris.
The monument was built by public subscription to honour the estimated 70,000 French soldiers who died in Belgium during the Great War. The unknown French soldier had died on the battlefields of West Flanders. The monument was inaugurated in July 1927 in the presence of King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium and of Raymond Poincaré, who was President of France from 1913-1920.
This postcard shows the inauguration ceremony (17.07.1927)
In 2013, a joint German-French ceremony of remembrance was held at the monument. Some pictures and more information can be found on the French Consulate’s website.
Nearby is a bust of Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France, who was the Allied Supreme Commander from March 1918 until the Great War ended in June 1919. It was erected in 1951 to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.