Fismes, France Sister City


Fismes (pronounced "Feem") is a small village 68 miles northeast of Paris with a population of 5,418. Fismes and the City of Meadville have developed a Sister-City relationship originating from WWI and the actions taken by soldiers from the Meadville and Crawford County area.   

In the closing months of WWI, the German Military made one final offensive in an attempt to gain favorable position for the unenviable end of the war. The battle that resulted is where many men from the Crawford County and Meadville areas saw their most ferocious fighting. The 112th Infantry Regiment became the 28th Infantry division upon reaching the village of Fismes, where they acted as a relief force for the French Forces already there. During the battle of Fismette, the division took heavy causalities in their efforts to take and defend the city from the Germans who had previously captured the city. The fighting during this time was categorized as being particularly brutal in that much of the fighting was hand to hand and street to street. This bravery and dedication of these American troops was the foundation of what became the Sister City relationship between Fismes and Meadville, as well as the Last Man’s Society which was formed by surviving members of the 28th Division.

The city was all but destroyed during the battle resulting the main bridge in and out of the city and the city's town hall being left in ruins.
Out of the fierce fighting that surrounded Company B of the 112th Infantry Regiment, also known as the 28th Infantry Division, formed a group of men who knew they would be bound together forever. Thus the Last Man Society was formed by Lt. Col. R. Bruce Campbell and Fredrick L. Pond. The name of this group was later changed to the Societe de Fismes in 1948 to signify the group’s connection to the city in France. This group was to meet regularly in remembrance of their efforts, and the last man of the club was to drink a bottle of wine which was Barton & Guestier "Royal Purple Burgundy" brought back from France by Lt. Pond. Ignatius Joseph Maggio was the final member of the Society. He passed away on May 12th of 1995 at the age of 100. He decided not to open the bottle instead choosing to leave it unopened. It now resides within the City of Meadville Building resealed and intact.

The Sister City relationship between Fismes and Meadville is built upon the sacrifices of the men of the 28th infantry division during this battle in WWI. The people of Fismes felt that they owed a debt of gratitude to the city of Meadville not only because of the men who fought valiantly to free the city of the Germans, but also due to the aid Pennsylvania and Meadville were able to contributed in the mid-1920s. This included $42,700 and three box cares of clothing and food sent to Fismes in order to assist their rebuilding after WWII. A portion of this money went to rebuilding the main bridge of Fismes which crosses over the Vesle. This bridge as well as a portion of Diamond Park in Meadville serves as a physical symbol of the bond that France and Meadville share.