Henri Moret. 1892-1915

1915210 x 263 mm

Unique album of an infantry second lieutenant killed in action on 9 May 1915.


1 in stock


Probably the only copy of an album in memory of Henri Jean Alexandre Moret, infantry second lieutenant killed in action on 9 May 1915.

The album opens with a handwritten title, illustrated with a small bouquet of flowers in watercolour, and includes :

- 9 original photographs of Henri Moret (on horseback, in uniform, reading in a trench, etc.), silver prints from the period.
- 23 facsimiles of letters and cards sent from the front to her parents and a friend between 19 August 1914 and 2 May 1915.
- A facsimile of a letter to Henri Moret from his former captain (Villemain)
- A facsimile of a letter sent to Henri Moret's parents by General Balfourier, together with a copy of his commendation.

The album was elegantly produced by Lucien Durvand in silk-lined morocco with richly decorated borders.

Henri Moret (1892-1915) joined the cavalry in 1914, but soon volunteered to transfer to the infantry, where there was a shortage of officers. He served as a second lieutenant in the 153rd infantry regiment and died in action on 9 May 1915 during the attack on Neuville Saint-Vaast, the first "sudden attack breakthrough" that marked the start of the Second Battle of Artois.

Henri Moret was the elder brother of Suzanne Madeleine Marguerite Moret, Emmanuel Berl's mistress.

I saw the fire yesterday for the first time. [...] My comrade Pasquier, who was in the vans, was furious and said that I'd really been too lucky to have seen the battle first.


We are working hard to become infantrymen and I can see the day when our horses will refuse to carry us in disgust. I'm making trenches. [...] When will we do small patés again. Who knows? We also played snowballs.


Earlier we had to carry a letter under machine-gun fire. Ten volunteers came forward. He came back, unharmed, I was afraid.
The intensity of life here is incredible. The feeling of responsibility and of the role played exalts the personality.
I really don't regret my change. The cavalry is a moon army, fragile and pretty. My poilus are soldiers.


When we fired a rocket at night to light up quickly, everyone looked over the parapet to see if everything was calm on our side as well as theirs. I got all my men ready, with their rifles pointed at the crest of the German parapet 30 metres away, then I fired a rocket and immediately a salvo. We heard screams and had to kill a few of them. Then the Germans relieved us and we had to surprise them as they arrived at night. Firing at will at 30 metres must have been marvellous.


you get the feeling that the leader is everything and that everything is worth the leader [...] I had to bring back 4 of them with revolvers in their fists who had escaped from another section when a shell fell on their group; they were completely panicked, their leader didn't have enough control over them. We use a suggestion effect here, I make the men believe and their need for confidence is such that everywhere around me there is the vein and they only have to group around me to avoid being hit.


From place to place, there are a few bushes covered in buds that, by some fluke of fate, have been protected from bullets. There's even a clump of primroses and a few violets. I pick them piously. Life returns even in death. Death does not exist. Nature is reborn triumphant. The bodies of the dead melt into its harmony. [...] Tomorrow Easter, the great Christian festival, the communion of all in the same ideal. This time there will be something more, the joining of forces to drive out the common enemy, and more present will be the union of the living and the dead, the fatherland in a word.


I told you briefly that we'd organised a torchlight procession. It was great fun. Lanterns bought at the grocer's, old leftovers from the past 14 July, beetroot dug out with a candle, even rockets and bengal fires [...] Tomorrow I'm organising a theatrical evening for the battalion. A real Negro will also do a Negro dance. Another will do a Russian dance followed by a variety of songs and a final Marseilaise. Everything will be beautiful.


I would like you to send me, as soon as possible, a hunting knife 50 cm long at most, rather less. Sharp on both sides, straight, good grip, good guard if necessary with shell and above all a good, thick, solid blade. This is what I'll use as a sabre.


We had to build an offensive hose 50 m from the Boche, completely in the open [...] I walked up and down it for nearly an hour to encourage the workers, completely in the open. Finally the fire became too violent so I made my men lie down and I lay down myself. There, leaning on one man and another on me, the one I was leaning on got his head blown off by a bullet and the other got his leg blown off.


My dear parents,
We are leaving tomorrow or the day after for the final push to rid our country. We have the honour of being in the front line and no one knows if he will return. If this letter reaches you, it means that I will be no more, I will have died like so many other Frenchmen before me for their country.


1915.In-4, Bound,210 x 263 mm,[48] ff.

Green morocco, spine ribbed with gilt title and fillets, framed with a triple fillet on the boards, double-fillet on the edges, interior roulette, moiré silk endpapers, gilt head, bookmark. Upper board and spine darkened. Binding signed "Durvand".