Until now, the name Hubert Rochereau was a random french name, and Bélâbre, a random tiny village in Central France. But the recent revelation of the young soldier’s bedroom, was preserved for 96 years, after his death in the first world war, on a Belgian battlefield brought huge recognition to both. His room with his personal belongings in the large family house in the village, stayed untouched for almost one century.
His parents turned his room into a poignant memorial, leaving it exactly the same as it has been the day he went off to war. The lace bedspread is still on the bed, his military jackets still hanging on the hanger, his desk chair faces the window in the room where he was born on 10 October 1896.
When his parents decided to move in, in 1935, they stipulated in the sale that the room should not be changed for 500 years.
Laurent Lorche the mayor of Bélâbre hopes his village’s new-found fame will also bring a benefactor to save Rochereau’s room for posterity: “When you walk into it it’s as if time has stood still,” he told the Guardian. “On a much smaller scale, I imagine it’s how the explorers felt when they opened the first pyramid or ancient tomb.It would be a great shame for it to disappear. As someone who loves history, I feel it’s is also important not to forget the sacrifice made by men like Rochereau.”
The second Lieutenant Hubert Rocheau, 21-years old, graduated on the elite French Saint-Cyr military school, died in an English field ambulance on 26 April 1918. His parents didn’t know where he was buried until 1922 when his body was discovered in a British cemetery and repatriated to the graveyard at Bélâbre.