First World War Roll of Honour
Bertin Phillipe Pierre Sterckeman (known as Pierre Sterckeman) was born on 15 May 1891, the youngest son of Charles and Lucie Sterckeman, in the Seine Department, 9th Arrondissement, Paris. He lived in the Arrondissement de Passy, 16th Arrondissement.
According to surviving records, Sterckeman matriculated at Downing College on 21st October 1909 but very little is known of his time in Cambridge afterwards and he does not appear to have sat any exams or graduated.
After the outbreak of war, Downing student magazine ‘The Griffin’ reported in Easter 1915 that Sterckeman was serving in the French Army and, in May 1916, he is noted as being a prisoner of war. Much of what follows is gleaned from official records from French military records and the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross:
Pierre Sterckeman served as a Corporal Telephonist with the 67th Infantry Regiment on the Western Front. The 67th Infantry were part of the 12th Infantry Division which fought the Battle of Woëvre, a series of bloody secondary offences for the trenches at Les Eparges and Calonne, south east of Verdun in early 1915.
The Germans launched an attack at the start of the evening of 23 April 1916 during which Sterckeman was captured. He is posted as Missing in Action at Les Eparges/Tranchée de Calonne (Meuse), on 24th April 1915. He was interned as a prisoner of War in the fortress Würzburg- Galgenberg POW Camp in Bavaria, Germany, from June 1915 until November 1916. Suffering from illnesses (gastroenteritis, intestinal abscesses and anaemia) contracted in captivity, Sterckeman was sent to the reserve hospital at Würzburg, and transferred to Switzerland at the end of November 1916. He died in Salem Hospital, Berne, Switzerland on 15th February 1917, aged 26.
Pierre Sterckeman is commemorated on the French online ‘Monument aux morts de la Grande Guerre’. In 1936, Paul Landowski was commissioned to produce a memorial to members of the French Army who died during the Great War. His 'À la gloire de l’Armée française 1914-1918' was finally unveiled in 1956.
Ten million people, servicemen or civilians, were captured and sent to detention camps during the First World War. Sterckeman was one of half a million French prisoners of war held captive by the Germans (second in size by nationality to 1.4 million Russians) and one of 38,983 French prisoners who died in or as a result of their captivity.
Countries involved in the conflict provided lists of prisoners to The International Prisoners of War Agency which opened in August 1914 under the management of the International Committee of the Red Cross. They created an index card for each prisoner and detainee – including one for Pierre Sterckeman.
The Griffin, Easter 1915, May 1916 and Lent 1917
Charbonnier, A. 12e Division d'Infanterie. Available at: http://www.premiere-guerre-mondiale-1914-1918.com/image/uploader/kfm/poi...
Forces War Records. WWI Prisoners of War in Germany & Turkey. Available at: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/wwi-prisoners-of-war-in-germany
Greenhalgh, E. The French Army and the First World War (Armies of the Great War). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014
Jones, Heather and Hinz, Uta Prisoners of War (Germany) in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel et al Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10387. Available at: http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/prisoners_of_war_germany
International Committee of the Red Cross. Prisoners of the First World War – Index. Available at: https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/
Mémoire des hommes -
Wiki Monde. 67e régiment d'infanterie. Available at: https://wikimonde.com/article/67e_r%C3%A9giment_d%27infanterie_de_ligne
Paul Landowski, 'À la gloire de l’Armée française 1914-1918', Place du Trocadéro, Paris.