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After the brief period of fighting which took place on the Somme in the Second World War, the German authorities of occupation in Peronne and region put in place the following measures. Peronne, like other district towns, became a garrison town with a Military Office in place.

  • A Kriegkommandantur was established (removed after the Russian offensive).
  • A Headquarters Staff was provided by the Wehrmacht, dependent on the Feldkommandantur in Amiens.

In order to carry out its task, the Kriegkommandantur had the following means at its disposal:

  • In Peronne: Several land forces garrisoned in requisitioned buildings and private houses.
  • In Albert: Several land forces and Military Police (later established in Peronne from July 1944).
  • In Chaulmes: An infantry detachment for the control of passengers in railway stations and on trains. (The railway employees were only responsible for the regulation of the railway network).

The Kriegkommandatur also controlled and dealt with the French prisoners of war in the camps at Peronne and Dompierre. This work ceased by the winter of 1940 when all the prisoners were sent to Germany. The Kriegkommandantur was also responsible for the control of the Demarcation Lines of the:

  • Zone Occupie = Occupied Zone
  • and

  • Zone Interdite = Forbidden Zone.

This control was carried out by the use of check-points and patrols all along the Somme River.

Homecoming of the Evacuated Inhabitants

As soon as the German Army had finished its occupation between the Basse Seine and the Pays de Loire, the Picards tried to head for their homes by any means they could. This mainly began on the 25th June, 1940.

Since the evacuation, they had been left without any news concerning their homes. They had only been told of a battle “around the Weygand-Wall.” Fortunately the destruction was nowhere near as bad as had been wrought during the First World War.

For the inhabitants of the areas south of the River Somme there were no problems getting back to their homes. However, for those who had to get to the north of the river and further, there were problems due to the fact that they had to cross the Occupied Zone and the Forbidden Zone. The only way to gain entry to the Forbidden Zone was to obtain authorisation (an Ausweis) from the Mayor of the village concerned, how to find the Mayor in the first place was the main difficulty.

At Chaulmes station, people heading for the Forbidden Zone had to get off the train and try to make their own way home, mostly by walking to the towns and getting help from their relatives.

Nevertheless, all the people in the Zones eventually managed to get back to their villages and homes. Some villagers whose houses were situated close to the banks of the river were able to get in touch with their friends on the opposite side of the Somme and obtained the necessary Ausweis so that they could cross the river.

Others crossed the line through small check-points such as at Feuilleres and Bazincourt with the help of a good bottle of Cognac! People who had a small fishing boat also helped others to cross the river at night.

The first thing the inhabitants had to do when the reached home was to bury the dead people and animals they found, that June of 1940 was very hot and the smell of the decaying corpses was terrible. As they did this they came across weapons, ammunition and small arms and these were quickly hidden away.

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