← Back to European Collections

 

About Albert Huet's WWI Documents

This collection is comprised of Albert Huet's WWI diary and other artifacts related to his time in the French army.

Biography of Albert Huet

Albert Huet was born on December 14, 1897 in a small village in Normandy, France. In 1916, he turned 18 and was drafted into mandatory military service in the French Army. At the time, the First World War had already been raging for two years. After a brief period of training, Albert was deployed to the Ardennes front, a dangerous combat zone (see the Chemin des Dames). He would serve in the trenches until 1918, when he was severely injured in a gas attack. While recovering, the Armistice was declared in November 1918 – but not before most of his regiment was massacred by a German assault.

After the war, Albert married the sister of an army friend and moved to Argenteuil – then a rural suburb of Paris. In Argenteuil, he found work with a railroad company. In 1955, he was diagnosed with larynx cancer: a result of the smoking habit he had picked up during military service. Over the following months, he received an emergency tracheotomy, had his larynx and vocal chords removed, and was treated with radium. Miraculously, he survived both the cancer and his treatment, boasting that if “the Krauts didn’t get me, then cancer won’t either.” He died twenty years later on November 23, 1977.

Because Albert was born in rural France at the turn of the century, his educational opportunities were minimal. As a result, his grammar and spelling are occasionally irregular. The text accompanying his diary therefore contains both a direct transcription of his words as well as a revised transcription in standardized French.

Biographie d’Albert Huet

Albert HUET est né le 14 décembre 1897 dans un petit village de Normandie. A cette époque, l’instruction dans les villages était réduite à sa plus simple expression. Il apprend sommairement à lire et à écrire. En 1916 Albert a 18 ans et est enrôlé pour le service militaire obligatoire. La guerre a débuté depuis deux ans et malgré le manque de moyens d’information, tout le monde sait que les choses sont très dures : les morts se comptent déjà par centaines de milliers et tous les villages sont touchés. Il se retrouve très vite sur le front des Ardennes, une zone de combats terribles (cf. Le Chemin des Dames). Il va traverser deux années de guerre sans une blessure physique et sera sauvé miraculeusement d’un massacre de sa compagnie par une attaque aux gaz.

Après la guerre il se marie avec la sœur d’un camarade de régiment de son village et part vivre en région parisienne où il a trouvé du travail dans une compagnie de chemin de fer. De son passage à l’armée il a conservé une terrible addiction au tabac qui se transforme en un cancer du larynx en 1955. Après une trachéotomie d’urgence, une ablation du larynx et des cordes vocales ainsi qu’un traitement au radium, il survivra et dira : “les boches n’ont pas réussi à m’avoir, ce n’est pas un cancer qui m’aura”. Il meurt le 23 novembre 1977.