After the battle
Through the violence of the battles inflicted onto the soldiers and civilians, the First World Ware saw an overall toll of more than 9 million deaths out of 73 million combatants, and around 20 million injured. Over the four years of the conflict, this carnage gave rise to a major requirement for doctors, nurses, as well as organising space for care.
The local Red Cross officers had to grapple with various difficulties in evacuating the wounded. The situation called for the cooperation of the local residents, who took in several wounded soldiers. After the war, great friendships grew up between the inhabitants of the area and the families of the wounded soldiers, most of whom came from south-western France.
The day after the fighting, the bodies of French and German soldiers were buried were they fell. Sometimes with the help of locals, temporary graves – individual or communal – were created. A cross bearing the names of the soldiers was erected. The German services established a map situating the placement of the numbered graves.
There are five French military cemeteries in the region covered by the battles of the Sambre:
Belle-Motte at Aiseau-Presles, Auvelais at Tamines, Heuleu at Lobbes, Collarmont-Carnières,
and Tarcienne. A French law of December 1915 regulated the creation of ‘national necropolises’ (burial grounds) for the bodies of those who died fighting for France. The tombs are set out in rows, with red roses adding the only touches of bright colour. Four types of emblem mark the graves: a Latin cross, a Muslim tombstone, a Jewish tombstone, and a tombstone for other faiths and free-thinkers.