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A French Soldier’s Room Unchanged 96 Years After His Death in World War I

(Photo: Bruno Mascle/Photoshot)

Hubert Rochereau dutifully marched off to war from his home in the village of Bélâbre, France. He served as a second lieutenant in the 15th Dragoons. Rochereau died of his wounds sustained in battle against the Germans in Loker, Belgium on April 26, 1918. For his courage under fire and his sacrifice, France bestowed on him the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor.

Rochereau’s parents were heartbroken. They kept his room in their house the way that he had left it. When they moved in 1935, their stipulated in the sales contract that his room must remain as it was for at least 500 years.

The requirement was legally dubious, but the new owners respected the wishes of the mourning couple. So did current owner, who inherited the house from her grandparents. It is a unique look into the past. Anne Penketh writes for The Guardian:

The room contains the spurs of the cavalry officer, his sword and a fencing helmet, and a collection of pistols. A flag is propped up beside the wall. His pipes are on his desk and the stale smell of English tobacco comes from a cigarette packet. […]

On Rochereau’s desk is a vial on which, in keeping with tradition, a label records that it contains “the soil of Flanders on which our dear child fell and which has kept his remains for four years”.

-via Nag on the Lake

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