From Here the Invader…

Demarcatiepalen, Bornes, Paul Moreau-Vauthier du Front,

Lankhof Farm Demarcation stone outside of Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Bornes du Front, Demarcatiepalen, Demarcation Stone

On occasion, while wandering the hurt landscapes of France and Flanders the visitor will happen upon one of French sculptor, Paul Moreau-Vautheir’s demarcation stones introduced to this fractured landscape in 1921. Dotted intermittently along significant sites of the Western Front in France and Belgium, the stones are known to locals in France as Bornes du Front and in Belgium as Demarcatiepalen.

Moreau-Vauthier was a Great War veteran who served in the French Army at the Battle of Verdun commencing 21 February 1916 and ending 16 December 1916. The Battle of Verdun is of great significance to the French and is considered a sacred symbol for healing,  symbolizing both the suffering and endurance of the French soldier. France lost 163,000 of its soldiers while Germany lost an estimated at 143,000 soldiers. France’s Verdun-wounded numbered 379,000.

The Demarcation Stone proposal was met with support from the Touring Club of France, the Touring Club de Belgique, the Ypres League and French General Phillipe Pétain, hero of Verdun. Between 1921 and 1927, 118 demarcation stones were positioned, 22 in Belgium; the remainder in France. Two additional stones were placed in 1929 and 1930.

Paul Moreau-Vautheir

French sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier.
(Wiki Images: Germany)

Funding for the project was conducted by public subscription organized by the supporting organizations. In all the Touring Club of France provided monies for 96 markers in France. The Touring Club de Belgique raised subscriptions for 16 demarcation stones and the Ypres League provided for 6 stones.

The markers include a laurel wreath and may feature a French, Belgique or British helmet depending upon who held the particular sector where the stone was placed. Grenades appear at the base corners as well as a water bottle and gas mask case. Usually the stones are inscribed with the phrase, Ici fut repoussé l’envahisseur (From here the invader was pushed back). Many of the stones have survived, though some are worse for wear through years of exposure to the elements of nature. Others have left this landscape due to a second world war, when 24 demarcation stones became casualties to the paths of fighting forces once again crisscrossing this hurt landscape.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


One Response to “From Here the Invader…”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    Image of sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier added 8 November 2019.

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