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Amiens : Raoul Berthelé – Photographic and Cinematographic Section of the Army : Unpublished testimonies of the Great War


On the one hand, the daily life of the people of Amiens in 1915, immortalized by Raoul Berthelé, lieutenant in the French army and amateur photographer. On the other, never-before-seen shots of the operators of the Photographic and Cinematographic Section of the Army taken after the final German offensive which destroyed the city. This is the subject of the double exhibition Amiens and the Great War 1915-1918, visible until April 14th at the train station and from March 4th to 25th at the Louis-Aragon library, prepared by baccalaureate students in animation for childhood and for aged people from the Lycée Édouard-Gand, under the guidance of their literature and history teacher Louis Teyssedou. It is a lovely photographic story, told by Louis Teyssedou.


I worked last year with two of my classes on a project related to heritage. We had written a book on the Cosserat factory. A factory classified as a Historic Monument left abandoned.
I was looking for photographs of people at work in this factory. Industrial secrecy reigned there. So photos are rare.
While looking for photographs, I came across, via the Internet, a photograph of a Cosserat worker dated 1915.
It was photography that hid the forest. A forest of archives.
The picture was taken by Raoul Berthelé, an ambulance administration officer.
This soldier (a chemist by profession) took 3000 photos during the First World War.
Which are all captioned… And that’s where the scientific/cultural added value lies.
Berthelé died of the Spanish flu at the end of 1918. His little sister kept the photographs (which are stereoscopic plates) and entrusted them to the Municipal Archives of Toulouse in 1978.

We are continuing this project this year. There are so many photographs that a new exhibition is coming in March 2023 in Amiens in the most beautiful library and especially in Amiens train station. The whole station.

This exhibition is held on two poles, the station of Amiens and the Louis Aragon library (still in Amiens).
The students of Bac Animation (Edouard Gand professional high school) designed the exhibition by comparing the Berthelé collection (whose photos were taken in 1915 in Amiens when this city was a quiet city in the rear) and photos from the funds of the ECPAD (Establishment of communication and audiovisual production of the Defense) when Amiens was destroyed by the German bombardments of March 1918.

This exhibition highlights these photographers. There is Raoul Berthelé (but also Emmanuel Mas, rewarded in 1919 for the photos he took during the war and which “will be used to educate future generations for peace” and also Albert Samama-Chikli, the father of the African cinema).

The exhibition catalog was produced by the DN MADE of the Branly high school in Amiens.

And above all the exhibits include photographs and letters from Indian soldiers.
We are invited to India in Delhi to discuss the project at an international conference.
I’m going with students to Delhi on April 09, 2023. It’s quite unprecedented…

Louis Teyssedou

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