Military information gathered on the rifleman Wadé

The military archives of the Historical Service of Defense with Vincennes mention the rifleman Wade in manpower of the 67e battalion of Senegalese riflemen (BTS) as of the first months of the conflict, simple rifleman in the 6th section of the 1st company. The 67e is engaged in the war and the Western face at the time of the first battle of Ypres in Belgium by October 1914, undergoing heavy losses, the riflemen lacking reference mark, of training, but also of a tested framing. Several reports note the absence in particular non-commissioned officers of career to direct the sections; some fall without to have drawn only one shot, mown by the grapeshot or terribly precise German artillery. If the recorded losses – but classified confidential defense – are consequent, the rifleman Wade seems to have escaped from it.

One finds mention of his name on October 24th, 1916, in the sector of Douaumont, where elements of the 67e integrate temporarily 43e BTS and of two companies of Somali. These elements, reinforcing the regiment with colonial infantry of Morocco, manage to take the German trenches on a two kilometers depth and occupy the fort of Douaumont. In this victorious offensive, the rifleman Wade and a non-commissioned officer of 67e BTS, the sergeant Camille Gascoin, seize an enemy machine-gun, making captive the three being useful and their officer. This act of war is worth its gallon of soldier to him 1st class, the non-commissioned officer as for him being quoted with the order of the battalion.
In 1917, the battalion of Wade – or at least what it remains about it after the year 1916 – is directed by a new officer, the commander Corneloup. Just like the 66e BTS and 70e BTS, it is part from now on of the 57e Regiment of Colonial Infantry (RIC). This regiment joined the camp of instruction of Frejus-Saint-Raphaël (archives SHD, Vincennes, paperboard 16N 84). They are thus 17,000 colonial riflemen, stationed in the south of France, within the framework known as of “the wintering”, practises consisting in preserving the colonial combatants of the rigours of the winter. But on Wednesday, February 21, 1917, regarded as “shock troops”, several companies of 57e RIC leave precipitately in the night for the face. A long increase in the troop train which aims to reinforce the first French and British lines; the information being conscious of an imminent German general offensive, Alberich code name, in the sector between Laon and Douai, vis-a-vis the 5th British army.
On Tuesday, February 27, 1917 at 23:47, night of “the event” mentioned by the only witness, a young French officer, lieutenant Victor Lafarge – who disappears at the time of a ambush on March 1st, 1917, his body will not be found –, the rifleman Wade is committed with her company in the defense of a trench, held before by the British troops. The ramming of this trench, observed by lieutenant Lafarge who will give an account of the losses then, remains unexplained, because of the offset and not very strategic position of the place. The report of Lafarge was not completely found in the archives, apart from the passage where he tells “the event”. As for the precise trench and its site, it is to date unspecified in spite of the attempts at reconstitution by the historians, the trench in question having been filled by February 29th by the troops of the genius, without apparent reason, in bond seems it with the preparation of a allied offensive which the Large General headquarter from now on under command of the general Bubble hopes sincerely.

Laurent Albaret

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