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Verdun battle memorials given greater protected status

Published 22/02/2016

Marshal Ferdinand Foch is honoured with a statue to remember the battle of Verdun
Marshal Ferdinand Foch is honoured with a statue to remember the battle of Verdun

Memorials dedicated to the bravery of French soldiers in the First World War are being given greater protected status to mark the centenary of the Battle of Verdun.

The Promenade de Verdun war memorial landscape and obelisk in Croydon, south London, is being listed at Grade II, the Government has announced.

La Delivrance war statue in Barnet, north London and the statue of Marshal Foch in central London's Grosvenor Gardens are being upgraded from Grade II to Grade II* protected status.

The three memorials are receiving greater protection to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Verdun, which ran from February 21 to December 18, 1916, as the French defended Verdun against an offensive by the Germans.

It became the longest and one of the most savagely fought battles of the First World War, with millions of shells fired and an estimated 400,000 French casualties among the hundreds of thousands of soldiers killed, wounded or missing on both sides.

Heritage Minister David Evennett said: "As we commemorate the centenary of the First World War, it is important that we in Great Britain remember the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of the French in their defence of Verdun in 1916.

"These important memorials act as a poignant reminder of the impact of the First World War on the people of France, and the bravery and determination they showed as a nation in defence of their homeland."

Sylvie Bermann, Ambassador of France to the UK, said the long, bloody trench warfare of the First World War culminated in the Battle of Verdun, a "10-month inferno" in which three-quarters of all the French soldiers were called on to defend their homeland.

She said: "A hundred years on, Verdun remains, for France, the symbol of an entire nation's resistance and collective mobilisation.

"It is natural for parallels to be drawn with the Somme, which, five months later, left a very similar mark on the British people.

""In this centenary year, let us remember, together, the sacrifice of all those soldiers."

The war memorials were created between 1922 and 1928:

:: Promenade de Verdun, Croydon, was created by chartered surveyor William Webb in 1922 to commemorate the French effort on the Western Front.

Lombardy poplars were planted in a mixture of French soil, brought from French fields where the Allies fought together in 1914, and English soil to symbolise the unity of the two countries, and there is a 19ft stone obelisk which has also been listed at Grade II.

:: La Delivrance, Barnet, was built in 1927 by Emile Guillaume, to mark the Allied victory in the Battle of Marne in September 1914 which halted the German advance into France.

:: The statue of French military commander Marshal Foch was designed by Georges Malissard in 1928, who insisted it be put at the southern end of Grosvenor Gardens where it would be seen by all Frenchman arriving in London via nearby Victoria Station

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