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Visiting the war memorial at Comines, France: a poignant bas-relief by Adolphe Masselot commemorating WW1 losses

Updated on June 18, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
War memorial, Comines, France
War memorial, Comines, France | Source
Construction of Saint-Chrysole church, Comimes, in 1925
Construction of Saint-Chrysole church, Comimes, in 1925 | Source
Map location of Comines (France) within Lille 'arrondissement'
Map location of Comines (France) within Lille 'arrondissement' | Source

Remembering a costly war

The poignant bas-relief depicted in the main photo, above, is at the war memorial at Comines, France. This bas-relief was the work of Adolphe Masselot (1877-1953).

Comines and district suffered extensively — both in terms of property destruction and human loss — in World War One. The personal situation of the sculptor of Comines's war memorial is probably relevant to the history of his war memorial work: he was himself a prisoner of the invading Imperial German army.

At Comines, both a belfry, dating from 1623 and the former town hall, dating from 1701, were destroyed in World War One. When the church of Saint-Chrysole was rebuilt in after World War One in 1925, the bas-relief which substantially formed a war memorial, was affixed to a separate belfry, for which, with the adjacent church building, architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier was responsible.

The old town hall and the former belfry are depicted in the bas-relief, as are a wonded soldier in French uniform and a woman — possibly symbolizing France, or even Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, offering aid to him.

A list of the local fallen is also attached in stone to the belfry. Also included in the bas-relief are the arms of Comines.

I have passed this war memorial many times when visiting Comines; I once spent a summer vacation within walking distance of it, and have also been in the town on many other occasions.

The war memorial at Comines, in France's Nord department, is situated at the town's Grande Place .

January 16, 2013


(1) Other works by Sculptor Masselot include various war memorials in France and Belgium; among these are memorials Deûlémont, France and Kemmelberg, Belgium. Mainly in the closing years of the 19th century, Adolphe Masselot variously studied art, design and architecture in Paris and Lille; he eventually formed his own company. Prior to World War One, the focus of his early sculptures was different: at least partly religious.

Also worth seeing

In Comines itself, the adjacent Saint-Chrysole church, with a bust of Medieval chronicler Philippe de Commynes is worth seeing, as is the Town Hall (French: Hôtel de ville ), with its striking belfry. Across the Lys river from Comines (France) is the Belgian town of Comines / Komen.

Lille (distance: 18 kilometres); among the many outstanding visitor attractions are the Chamber of Commerce belfry, the City Hall belfry, the former stock exchange building and the General Charles de Gaulle Birthplace Museum.


How to get there: To Comines , Brussels has the nearest large international airport. Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service between Brussels and Comines/Komen, on the Belgian side, which is easily accessible from Comines-Franc e . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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