Paris-Manchester 1918
Conservatoires in time of war

Fiche matricule de Maurice Ravel

Created at the time of recruitment into the military, the service record lists all the details of conscripts’ military careers. In addition to personal information (surname, given names, profession, parents, physical description etc.), it provides exact details of a service member’s postings.

Maurice’s service record reveals that he was for a long time prevented from serving in the armed forces by his state of health and poor physical development (height 1 m 61, weight 45 kg). The fact that he was eventually enlisted is perhaps due to his repeated requests not to remain in the rear,[1] but it is also probably related to a tightening of the rules on exemptions and the “hunt for shirkers” from 1915 onwards, which prompted medical boards to accept even less suitable candidates.

Assigned to the auxiliaries, a non-combat service, he was made a truck driver. After falling ill in September 1916 (he came down with dysentery), he was transferred back to Paris, as the entry “At the Grand Palais Military Hospital in Paris from 27 October 1916 to 24 January 1917” indicates.  He was declared temporarily unfit for service on 1 June 1917, and later declared permanently unfit.

[1]In his correspondence, Ravel liked to remind the reader that he had at least strongly hoped to serve his country at the start of the conflict.

Name: Ravel
Given names: Joseph Maurice

Recruitment reference No.: 3851
Mobilisation class: 1895 Seine 6 Recruitment Office

Born 7 March 1875, at Ciboure, canton Saint Jean de L[uze], department Basses Pyrenées, resident at Paris, 15 Rue Lagrange, canton 5th Arrondissement, department Seine, profession Composer of Music son of Pierre-Joseph and Marie née Delouart, domiciled at Paris, 15 Rue Lagrange, canton 5th Arrondissement, department Seine

Brown hair and eyebrows, brown eyes, high forehead, long nose, small mouth, round chin, oval face

No. 182 in the draft lottery for the 9th Arrondissement canton

Exempted in 1895 for Frailty

In the ready reserves or first-line reserves of the Active Army.

At the Grand Palais Military Hospital in Paris from 27 October 1916 to 24 January 1917
In the Territorial Army and reserves
Assigned to auxiliary service by Seine Recruitment Board on 10 March 1915
Transferred to armed service by Seine No. 2 Special Medical Board on 17 April 1915. Posted to 13th Artillery Regt (Automobile Service) on 15 March 1915 by Central Office and arrived at this unit the same day.
Transferred to the Territorial Army reserves on 1-10-1916
Transferred to the 20th Company on 1 June 1916. Transferred to the 8th Company of the Supply Corps on 1[1] September 1916. Transferred to the 20th Company of the Military Supply Corps on 21 March 1917. Transferred to the depot of the Automobile Service in Paris on 25[2] March 1917 under Ministerial Decision 11357 SA/2 of 12 April 1916 ― * Declared temporarily unfit for service (category 1 invalid) by Seine No. 2 Special Medical Board on 1 June 1917 because of: “suspect apex of right lung, severe emaciation”.
* Transferred to the 19th Company of the Supply Corps on 16 May 1917.
Confirmed temporarily unfit for service (category 2 invalid) by Seine No. 6 Special Medical Board on 27 April 1918 for the same reason (2nd year)
Re-declared temporarily unfit for service (category 2 invalid) by Versailles Medical Board on 31 May 1919 because of chronic Bronchitis and chest deformity (3rd year)
Declared permanently unfit for service (for cause attributable to service) by Versailles Medical Board on 11 May 1921 because of: Congenital thoracic and muscular underdevelopment. Height 1m 61. Weight 45 kg Chest circumference 0 m 76. Emaciation. Respiratory insufficiency of lung apices without signs of progressive apical disease. Some rhonchi.

List of units to which young persons are posted
In the Territorial Army and the reserves

13th Artillery Regt
Automobile Service
20th Supply Company
8th Supply Company
20th Supply Company
Automobile Service depot
19th Supply Company

20/6/15 Paris 4 Avenue Carnot
7 Avenue Leonie, St Cloud

Campaign against Germany from 15 March to 1 June 1917

[1]Or 7.

[2]Or 28.

Military service record of Joseph Maurice Ravel, Paris, Paris Municipal Archives, D4R1 870, reference No. 3851 (Recruitment Office 6, class of 1895).

Description of document: printed form completed by hand

Calza Renato (1998) ‘Ravel e la Grande Guerra: Trois chansons pour chœur (1914-1915) – Mon ami z-il est à la guerre (… moi, je reste ici, hélas !)”’, Musica e Storia, No. 6/2, p. 421-461.

Manat Marcel (1986) Maurice Ravel, Paris: Fayard.

Ravel Maurice (1989) Lettres, écrits, entretiens, Paris: Flammarion. Introduced and annotated by Arbie Orenstein.