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The amazing story of a French American teacher who left his life at Stanford college to volunteer for the French Army, in the elite chasseurs-à-pied, during the First World War.
Although born in France Robert Pellissier in 1882, he moved to America in 1882 to live with his sister. A gifted scholar of ardent professionalism, he studied at Harvard and taught at Williston College and Stanford. However when war broke out in Europe his morals would not allow him to sit idly by whilst France was invaded and European civilisation was under assault. He wrote home obsessively, to his parents, his fiancée and his colleagues describing with great passion the fight for justice that he had embarked on. Filling with wry humour, contemporary political commentary, and most often an sense of the insanity of war. For example, with bitter irony, he quotes the idiocy of an the outdated war manual he had been given in one of his letters-’Any disengaged body of troops should right away march to the firing line’- a death sentence in the trenches!
In late 1914 he was posted to the inhospitable mountainous region in the north of France the Vosges, after an abortive offensive earlier the year the French only held the rocky outcrops out of all of the Alsace region. But Pellissier and his comrades would cling on to their foothold tenaciously for national honour; he was wounded and invalided out of the frontline in 1915. He was promoted to become an sergeant in 1916, he returned to the front in time to be engaged in the brutal fighting during the battle of Hartmannweilerskopf where he and his men fought on for 53 days without relief, which could not be effected due to the heavy German bombardment. It was during the battle of the Somme in 1916 that Sergeant Pellissier eventually met his end, at least on the soil of his beloved France.