Captain Soulairol (2nd engineers)
The engineers: the scientific knowledge branch, with technical expertise at its finest, allocated to separate units, spread out among the army corps and its divisions. One would not imagine that it could play an active role at the front in modern warfare. One might think that sappers only had to fashion supports for bridges, or erect light secondary defences. Yet mobile warfare has been transformed into a war of positions and sieges. The sapper or engineer has become the indispensable man, the model and essential exemplar: all French soldiers have now become sappers. At the same time there has been a renewal of the ancient skills and talents of the engineering branch. With the coming of terrible mine warfare we have learnt to admire from the depths of our hearts these hidden, patient and heroic workers, who in order to set up or test a mine would risk the most horrible of deaths. Public homage has now been paid to these valiant engineers who have been in every engagement, seen all the action in attack and defence. And still they were a quiet, not showy branch of the army, attached to their traditions, with their own particular mentality.
Look at this captain: he is calm, a dreamer. He does not cut a dash, but has serious thoughtful eyes, the high forehead of a man who works with his intelligence. He is a fine representative of the corps to which he belongs, the most hard working and the least well known, but which yields to none on the field of sacrifice.