Claude Brabant – Souchez, Ablain-Saint-Nazaire
Claude: Long Live Peace!
When the conversation turns to military strategy and troop movements, Claude Brabant is inexhaustible. A historian in his heart, this former bio-medical engineer has been around the block and can now give free rein to his passions – he owns a beautiful collection of around 250 lead soldiers from the First World War – and wasted no time settling down in Souchez, in the shadow of the great remembrance sites of Notre Dame de Lorette and Vimy. He married a German lady, so he knows a thing or two about the reconciliation between the two countries. « Here, it’s impossible to forget the two World Wars », he tells us, remembering the bombshells and the vestiges of the tragedies that destroyed the beautiful landscape of hills across the Artois and that can still be unearthed in a farmer’s field or through excavation works.
His story is stuffed full of anecdotes and intimate tales. In summer, at a small military cemetery bathed in sunshine and tranquillity, walkers can discover a lovers’ rendezvous, the valley of the Zouaves or even a little-known viewpoint. This is where small, personal stories clash with real History.
But this area is also about the marvellous Art Deco style churches, many of which were built or rebuilt when the conflict was over and sometimes went on to be listed as Historic Monuments. Claude recalls that in his youth he was greatly attracted by the Ecole du Louvre himself…