Friday, October 12, 2012

From the field

Last weekend at an estate sale in Sackville NB I purchased a wartime painting dated 1944.  The panel featured a green summer landscape dotted with army tents, two military men at ease, conversing under a leafy tree and a stone farmhouse in the background.   It looked like an oil painting done on site by a soldier/artist.

Painting by A. Pouzadoux, dated 1944

Who was he and where did he record the details of a quiet evening in a WWII camp?
I checked the Canadian virtual war memorial site for A. Pouzadoux, but the search yielded no military men with that surname.  On a French WWII site, I found a page of information on Antoine Gabriel Pouzadoux, a Resistance (Maquis) soldier who served in the Auvergne region.   Pouzadoux was killed on June 20, 1944, during a battle at Anterrieux as French forces tried to delay German troops who were moving north to oppose the D-day landings in Normandy.  The Germans killed 160 Resistance soldiers in the conflict.  Accounts of the days leading up to the attack mention the dangerous evacuation of wounded soldiers from a field hospital at Mont Mouchet.  I now have good reason to think that the Red Cross tents shown in the Pouzadoux painting were part of that encampment.

Antoine Gabriel Pouzadoux (b. 1905 d. 1944)

Prior to the war, Pouzadoux had been employed as a printer at La Banque de France in Chamalieres, a fact that supports the image of a man who might be inclined to create a painting in the midst of active war service.  In Anterrieux there's a stone marker at the edge of a farmer's field near the spot where Pouzadoux died, a simple memorial bearing a flag and a photo.  Perhaps I'll make a pilgrimage to that place some day and find the same green field where Antoine painted the stillness before the storm.

Stele for Antoine Pouzadoux at Anterrieux, Cantal

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