Hotel Lamartine, Amiens, France


No caption or other information. Probably a photo turned into a postcard.

Google Street View.

Over the door it says “G. Edwards/Late Australian Forces”.

A correspondent wrote to The Register from Amiens, in France, on April 12:— “In the thousands of homes in Australia represented by gallant sons the name of the city of Amiens is a household and historic memory, as well as the famous and noble cathedral which adorns it. The sons of Australia in the main were responsible for preventing the city from failing into the hands of the Germans, and thus they conserved for France and the Somme area a treasure of art and sentiment dear to the French nation. Following upon the Australians’ attack of August 8–just a week later–a memorable thanksgiving service was held in the holy edifice. This service was conducted from an improvised altar, which was draped with the Australian flag, at a later date dedicated and hung in the chancel.

This morning one of the most historic ceremonies ever performed in the cathedral took place, when Madamoselle Ernestine Sueur, of the Hotel Lamartine, Amiens, was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Dvr. George Edwards, A.I.F., son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Edwards, Stanley Hotel. Clare, South Australia. By order of the holy dignataries of the cathedral the flag of Australia was temporarily removed from the chancel to the altar, at which the ceremony was performed, as a tribute to the Australian soldier, and the memory of Australia’s many gallant deeds. There were a large number of guests present, and the crowds of visitors thronged the cathedral to witness the memorable event, for Dvr. Edwards was the first British soldier to be married within the confines of the aged, sacred, and stately Gothic pile. Among the guests present were Mr. Russell Rayson, of Melbourne, and Capt. G. Bassett, base cashier for the British armies in France. Capt. Bassett, speaking at the sumptuous wedding breakfast, declared that it was the proudest moment of his life to be present at a digger’s wedding
The Register (Adelaide), 20 May 1920

Whilst in Amiens I stayed at the Hotel Lamartine. This hotel is owned by an ex-Digger–Doc. Edwards, of Claireb South Australia. This chap married a French girl, and took over her father’s estaminet, and during the four years that he has been there it has changed from being an estaminet into a small hotel, with about 20 rooms, well patronised every day of the year by English and Scotch people making their annual pilgramage to the battlefields. During my stay there were quite a number of Australian visitors at the same hotel, and of an evening it seemed so strange, sitting in familiar old surroundings, listening to our worthy host from behind the bar relating experiences that he had had out in the bush of Australia.
Brsibane Courier, 18 December 1826

“‘Doc.’ Edwards came to France with 2nd Aust. Divvy. He did his bit in the war, but lost his heart to a French girl. It was his good fortune that the Armistice found him within 10 miles of Amiens, and fate did the rest. Today he is prosperous, beret-clad and happy, while his demoiselle has become a matron and still enjoys having him clap his mutton fist on her shoulder when he says “This is why I stayed in France.”

“I get on well with the French people,” he told me, “but it is great to see the boys, especially they come from Australia to look over the battle-fields again. A lot of them seem to know that I am in Amiens, and when they look me up it is good to go with them over the old spots and swap memories.”
Blyth Agriculturist, 24 February 1939

We are pleased to inform the public that on Wednesday morning Mr. J. Sylvester Edwards. of Clare, advised us that he had received a cablegram from his brother–Mr. George Edwards–from London. Indicating that he and his wife had escaped the holocaust in France and were safe in the capital of the British Empire.
Mr. Sylv. Edward, with his brothers and sisters in Adelaide and Melbourne, and other parts of Australia, had been most anxious to hear news of their welfare during the past devastating weeks that have ensued since Germany overran Holland, Belgium and France, committing acts of pillage and barbarism, the like of which has never been witnessed before. George Edwards was the proprietor with his wife, of the Hotel Lamartine, at Amiens, France, a lovely city well-known to Australian troops in 1914-18. It is said that the only building now left standing almost intact in this mice beautiful city is the Amiens Cathedral.

Before leaving Clare to go to the last war of 1914-15, George Edwards sold through his firm—-Messrs. Duncan & Fraser, Ltd—-the first Clare Ambulance for the 1st A.I.F. He brought the vehicle to Clare when it was paid for. Later on he enlisted, and was a driver of ammunition waggons in France which used to supply the big guns with their daily rations. The cablegram sent from London indicates that it is George Edwards intention to come to Australia as soon as possible. He should have a graphic story to tell of the horrors war, and undying heroism of the French and English soldiers, especially of the men and women refugees who thronged the highways of France and Belgium, and who held on with heroic fortitude.
Blyth Agriculturist, 28 June 1940

George (“Dock.”) Edwards and his French Wife Reveal a Life or Death Struggle in the War Zones of France.
[Extracts, the article is very long]
With the signing of the Armistice they both thought Peace in our day had come at last. George worked clearing up with his unit in Belgium for ten months, eventually going back to the depot at Amiens, where he succumbed to the charms of Madamoiselle Ernestine Sueur, and they were married in Amiens Cathedral on April 12, 1920. He immediately applied to be de mobilised and went to Horseferry Road, London on (April 28, 1920) where he had to produce s certificate signed by his wife stating that she had married a soldier, before he got a clearance and his wife naturalization papers.

Business claimed them in the possession of a three-storied hotel — the Hotel Lamartine, in the Rue Lamar tine, Amiens, from 1920 onwards. Peaceful years followed as the sons and daughters of devastated France husbanded their resources, re-built anew their homes and farms, factories and gardens. It was a land over flowing with tragic happiness after long sufferings. But alas! It was too good to last!

I will let George Edwards tell you verbatim, in his own words, the sights he saw: —
George: — :I am watching from the top of the Hotel Lamartine and the boulvardes of Amiens. I see before my eyes day and night, countless hordes of Dutch people, old men and women and children pouring along the roads with the horrors of destruction and annihilation of the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam searing their souls with implacable hate and rage for all time. They are followed two days later by hundreds and thousands of Belgians.

Bravery, resolution and mother love are written and etched into every line of face and figure as they glance fearfully skyward when they hear the zooming note of the German vultures, or dive bombers, and later the screeching horror of screaming bombs. Machine gun bullets rake the roadways. Motor cars are set on fire. The roads are blocked bumper bar to bumper bar, as it is only one way traffic. “God Have Mercy Upon Us,” is a prayer that reaches up from wracked bodies and tormented hearts and souls.

There is no quarter. It is time for Ernestine and me to get a move on. We get our car. Garages, stores and homes are open wide. We take what we will. The city is burning — bombs are falling with terrific force. British fighters dart down from the sky and we cheer as they down the foe. Thousands are killed and maimed and lie by the wayside. Houses fall with a crash as we leave the suburbs and we stop 50 miles away after hiding in a wood for 3 days to get away from dive bombers. We arrive at my country home, but our stay is short, as nine big bombs are dropped, several near the front of the house. We go another 100 miles hearing all the while the piteous cries of those on foot. We think to rent a home for the duration, but the whole country-side is in full flight, and off we go again. We see doctors and nurses bravely attending to the dying and the sick on the roadsides.

All the banks had closed. No money was available, and there was financial chaos. Mob rule in some, places was the order. It was a case of the race to the strong and survival of the fittest and luckiest. The population from Paris mostly fled as far as the Spanish border and by other avenues to Lyons, Orleans, on to Biarritz and Nice. The areas affected covered hundreds of square miles of congested humanity. No human being could adequately describe the daily horror of it all or the position as we wandered on for close upon 1,000 miles to Bordeaux. This] beautiful city on the coast had a population of half a million. Imagine the scene — the congestion, the panic on the wharves and water-front as the city rapidly filled with about 1 1/2 million more. It was indescribable and when one tried to get away from the bombing by taking to the boats and ships the scene beggared description.

We eventually boarded a Dutch ship packed to the Plimsoll at the port of Verdon. My wife’s mother and sister, who were traveling independently, had to be left behind crying on the wharf as the ship got under weigh….I am sorry for Ernestine’s sake to say we do not know whether they are alive or dead.”

The rest of my story is soon told. We landed at a North of England port after our ship had been set on fire. I held a rope so as to lower Ernestine down to a waiting tug, but it was not needed. We went to London, saw Sir Charles McCann, Agent General for S.A., and Major Wheeler of Australia House, who did all in their power to get us home. The hospitality of the people was marvellous. Cinemas had to be evacuated to house the refugees.

Asked what they were going to do George said he hoped to go into business. They escaped with only their bare belongings, and even their motor car and valuables had to be left on the quayside. The Hotel Lamartine would be in ruins.
Northern Argus, 23 August 1940

Northern Argus, 8 August 1946

We’ve just heard the story and it’s quite touching. The Digger was George Edwards, his wife Ernestine. They met when she hid him in a basement during the war. The couple started a string of cafes, but Edwards was classed as a foreigner in France and had to pay double taxation, so they settled for their little place in the Rue Lamartine, where Billy Hughes often visited them.

The couple left Amiens just 48 hours ahead of the Germans in 1940, kept ahead of them, got out of France two days before D-Day, and reached England penniless. They came out to Australia, where Edwards visited his people in South Australia, then they set up a little mixed business in Al-bury, but there tragedy overtook them. Ernestine died of cancer and Edwards, shattered by the blow, gave up the business. Now he is living with a brother-in-law named McCarthy who keeps a hotel at Ararat, Victoria.
The Sun (Sydney)m 15 September 1949

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