Portrait Lucien Bersot

Lucien Bersot was executed because he refused to wear bloodied pants

Lucien Jean Baptiste Bersot, born on 7 June 1881 at Authoison (Haute-Saône) and executed on 13 February 1915 at Fontenoy (Aisne). Lucien Bersot was a French soldier who was shot as an example during the First World War because he refused to wear a bloodied pants that belonged to a death comrade.

He was born in a family of small farmers, who were settled in Besançon. Lucien learned the craft of blacksmith and married there in 1908 before becoming the father of a little girl in 1909.

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When the First World War broke out, he was drafted in the 60th Infantry Regiment with which it is in the winter of 1914-1915 on the forehead of the Aisne, which had just suffered heavy losses but was not considered to have been very pro-active, so the staff entrusted Lieutenant-Colonel Auroux with the command of the Regiment on 22 January 1915.

Lucien Bersot, executed because he refused to wear a bloodied pants.
Lucien Bersot

On 11 February 1915, while shivering due severe coldness in the trenches, he asked his sergeant quartermaster for wool pants, identical to those worn by his comrades, since he lacked warm pants. The sergeant then offered trousers ragged and stained with blood, taken from a dead comrade. Lucien Bersot refused, he was charged and initially given 8 days for disobeying an order. His commanding officer Lt Colonel Auroux his intention would appear to have been looking to set an example, as new recruits had arrived, and not only charged Bersot but also presided over his Court Martial.

When two friends tried to speak up on his behalf (Elie Cottet-Dumoulin and Mohn André) they were sentenced to hard labour in North Africa.

To no great surprise Auroux found the soldier guilty of disobedience in the face of the enemy and condemned him to death. He was shot the following day: 13th February 1915. Though the sentence did not correspond to the code of military justice because the offense took place at the back and not in contact with the enemy.

Following the war his case was taken up by one of the Associations and a Court of Appeal on 12th July 1922 could do little apart from find him innocent and was rehabilitated.