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Cavalryman Antoine Fonck

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ANTOINE FONCK WAS THE VERY FIRST

 

On Tuesday 4 August 1914 the small village of Thimister was catapaulted into the storm of a great battle that lasted 4 long years.

Its first victim was a valiant cavalryman: Antoine Fonck was injured and met his untimely death while advancing towards the enemy in defence of his country. He died faithful to his regiment's moto "Mort premier comme devant" (First to die, always in front) at a place called La Croix-Polinard.

A few days previously, King Albert 1st had rejected the German ultimatum and refused entry to the Ulhans. The Kaiser's army then violated Belgian neutrality.

Unfortunately for Thimister, it was the first village on the invaders' route. Indeed, the 10th army corps, under the command of general Otto Von Emmich, focussed its efforts on the Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) region. His main goal was to take the fortified town of Liège. From that moment on, the most direct way to achieve his goal was via the Aix-Liège road.

In front, the 2nd lancer squadron travelled on the road that traverses Herve to reconnoitre the German invasion.

Cavalryman, Antoine Fonck marched ahead as a scout and found himself in front of an enemy group. Shots were fired, and Fonck was found later lying close to his dead horse.

For the first time, a Belgian soldier made history and became a national hero. Unfortunately, he was joined by a long list of bravemen who would also forever be honoured with: "Died for his country".

Ever since that event on 4 August, the commune of Thimister-Clermont has considered Antoine Fonck as one of its sons. A monument was erected to his memory on the Charlemagne road on 23 August 1923, and every year the people of Thimister-Clermont proudly pay hommage to him on every 1st Sunday of August.