During the summer of 1914, German and French troops fought around a dozen localities in southern Belgium. Among the numerous confrontations, those of August 20 to 24, 1914, have gone down in history as the bloodiest battles. France lost more than 130,000 men in Belgium, including more than 20,000 dead in the Ardennes and Gaume.
In Maissin, the soldiers came from Brittany, but also from Vendée, Loire-Atlantique and Maine-et-Loire. The German soldiers came from Hesse, in the central west of the Empire.
A dozen inhabitants were killed, others were wounded, many fled, and 75 houses were burned on the civilian side.
The cemetery bears the name of Pierre Massé, a veteran of the 19th infantry regiment of Brest. A Breton poet, his words speak for themselves: Un cimetière est, en Belgique, devenu terre d’Armorique
Un cimetière est, en Belgique, devenu terre d’Armorique
Puisque nos enfants l’ont peuplé.
Je veux là-bas que l’on me dresse ;
Et tous les siècles de tendresse
En mon granit accumulé (…)
Et près de tous ceux qui reposent
Je deviendrai ces douces choses
Qu’on ne peut jamais oublier ;
Les invocations d’une mère,
Et l’ombre apaisante et légère
Qui tourne autour de nos clochers.