The village of Craonne is on the Californie plateau which was the site of bloody fighting on 16 April 1917 during Nivelle's failed 1917 Offensives. It was these disastrous offensives that pushed the French Army over the edge and led to the 1917 Mutiny. The village was immortalised in the song called La Chanson de Craonne (English: The Song of Craonne). This song was sung by the 68 divisions of French soldiers (out of 110 French Army divisions) who mutinied. The song was prohibited in France until 1974. Today the French and New Zealand students visited this ruined village during our day-trip.
The lyrics of the song are;
When at the end of a week's leave We're going to go back to the trenches, Our place there is so useful That without us we'd take a thrashing. But it's all over now, we've had it up to here, Nobody wants to march anymore. And with hearts downcast, like when you're sobbing We're saying good-bye to the civilians, Even if we don't get drums, even if we don't get trumpets We're leaving for up there with lowered head.
Good-bye to life, good-bye to love, Good-bye to all the women, It's all over now, we've had it for good With this awful war. It's in Craonne up on the plateau That we're leaving our skins, 'Cause we've all been sentenced to die. We're the ones that they're sacrificing
Eight days in the trenches, eight days of suffering, And yet we still have hope That tonight the relief will come That we keep waiting for. Suddenly in the silent night We hear someone approach It's an infantry officer Who's coming to take over from us. Quietly in the shadows under a falling rain The poor soldiers are going to look for their graves
Good-bye to life, good-bye to love, Good-bye to all the women, It's all over now, we've had it for good With this awful war. It's in Craonne up on the plateau That we're leaving our hides 'Cause we've all been sentenced to die. We're the ones that they're sacrificing
On the grands boulevards it's hard to look At all the rich and powerful whooping it up For them life is good But for us it's not the same Instead of hiding, all these shirkers Would do better to go up to the trenches To defend what they have, because we have nothing All of us poor wretches All our comrades are being buried there To defend the wealth of these gentlemen here
Those who have the dough, they'll be coming back, 'Cause it's for them that we're dying. But it's all over now, 'cause all of the grunts Are going to go on strike. It'll be your turn, all you rich and powerful gentlemen, To go up onto the plateau. And if you want to make war, Then pay for it with your own skins.