Messages from WWI Discovered in Charmoy
A Charmoy residenct has recently discovered English text scrawled across the walls of his home. After several years spent fervently researching the messages, Olivier Claudon, the home's owner, has come to believe the messages were left by American soldiers involved in World War I. Claudon made the discovery while stripping the paint from a home he had purchased in 2002. The message, written in pencil over the stone material of a chimney, simply gave the name, rank and address of one Sgt. W.D. Whittet.
Claudon soon discovered additional messages as his renovation project continued. While he was able to confirm the messages were from American soldiers, Claudon could not confirm the reason nor the timeline of why such men would have been in his home. Inspired by curiosity, Claudon continued his investigation for years, with no villager ever recalling the presence of American soldiers within the area or any support evidence from documents stored online.
Only recently, while researching the Whittet name, did Claudon discover a book on the American 27th Engineers Army regiment, of which, records indicated such main had stayed in Charmoy in 1918. The Americans were part of a second battalion within the Mining Regiment, a group that recruited from large US mining companies to work as tunnelers and bridge-builders. Claudon's book indicated that the men arrived in September of 1918, spending one month in Charmoy before joining the front that was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The 27th Engineers spent their time in Charmoy, performing training and exercise routines, lodging in whatever accommodations were available and even using the place as a forward operating base.
Claudon's findings can be found in a blog titled "Charmoy, Un Village à L’Heure Américaine." Charmoy plans to hold an exhibition in November that will recount the village's role during World War I. The village also intends to honor the oft-ignored 27th Engineers and celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Armistice.
Claudon believes that there is more he still needs to discover. Several people have mentioned a collection of wooden planks by a storehouse, containing the names of other 27th Engineers and a common date of October 13, 1918. Yet other sources have mentioned another site containing signatures within an aged farmhouse. Claudon has remarked that his research into these men has made the 27th Engineers and the village's role in World War I as common topics of conversation within the area.
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