World War I started on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo. A young Serbian patriot assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Archduke’s assassination catapulted the War into existence.
Trébuchon was the unfortunate French soldier whose life was the last to perish in World War I. He was killed by the war 15 minutes before the ceasefire took place – and as he was delivering news to his unit that lunch was to be served.
The Last Poilu to Fall
Trébuchon was born on May 30, 1878, in a small town called Montcabrier. He had four younger siblings. As a communal shepherd, he lived a simple life and occasionally played the accordion during village weddings in his small, sleepy town. Trébuchon was 36 years old when the war started, and he decided to volunteer. (Source: Free Wheeling France)
He started as a messenger for the 415th Infantry Regiment and soon was promoted to Soldat de Première Classe or Private First Class in September 1918. He was described as a good soldier, having always achieved his duty, of remarkable calm, setting the best example to his young comrades.
Trébuchon has fought through the entire World War 1, all four years of it. He fought in the battles of Marne, Verdun, Artois, and the Somme. He was supposed to be coming home to his family but unfortunately was gunned down in the last 15 minutes of it. (Source: Military Wikia)
The Armistice de Compiègne (Armistice of Compiègne) was signed on November 11, 1918, at 5:45 a.m. This signified World War 1, as the Armistice ended all fighting on land, air, and sea between the Allies and Germans. This was noted as a victory for France and its allies. However, in the hours between the Armistice being signed up to its coming to force, a total of 2,738 men still lost their lives, Trébuchon included.
A French journalist and writer, Alexandre Duyck, became interested in Augustin Trébuchon. He first learned of Augustin’s story on the 90th anniversary of the Armistice. Duyck mentioned that Augustin was always in his mind, saying that he must have been particularly moved by his death. He was killed last, at the last moment, for an absurd purpose.
Duyck finds Trébuchon’s story odd in every way. He could have avoided the war entirely by claiming that he had a family to support but chose to volunteer anyway. He died 15 minutes before the Armistice was in force. History tried to cover up the actual date of death to a day ahead of the armistice date. And to top it off, this cover-up is forever etched in history as this is the date of death. It was even inscribed on Trébuchon’s tombstone in the Vrigne-Meuse cemetery. (Source: France 24)
Despite these circumstances, Duyck, along with the others in the likes of Gillian Thornton, a few local enthusiasts, and Georges Dommelier, the former mayor of Vrigne-Meuse, honor Augustin Trébuchon in their own ways. Duyck published a book titled “Augustin,” a novel portraying the lives of Poilu, such as Trébuchon in World War 1. (Source: France Today)