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"Mother of God. Not again."
―Major Gaston[src]

Gaston was a French officer, who served in the 2nd Army under General Robert Nivelle at the Battle of Verdun during World War I. He was assigned to Sector 4 under Colonel P. Barc, and had a small command station at the front line trenches of Verdun, north of Fort Douaumont. He was in charge of men like Nicole's husband.


Gaston originally had been planning on running in the next Olympics, but the war stopped the games from happening.[1]

By September 1916, Gaston had become a Major in the French Army. That month, just come out of his station, lighting a cigarette from a burning branch when a Belgian courier, Corporal Henri Defense (Indiana Jones), arrived, with orders from Barc. Reading the orders to start an attack on the fort once the artillery pounding ceased, he crumpled up the paper and blew the whistle to get his men ready for the charge. Rallying his men into position along the trenches, he blew the whistle again to signal the charge. Running across no man's land with his men, Gaston realized that German artillery and machine guns were cutting down his men. He signaled for a retreat, and managed to return to the French trench line. That evening, he nursed a head injury while waiting for one of his sergeants to pull together a casualty report, which he gave to Defense. Gaston was astounded when Defense ran out onto the battlefield to rescue a wounded French soldier, and returned unharmed.[2]

The next evening, Gaston accompanied Barc to the army headquarters at Souilly to recruit one of the Belgian couriers to volunteer for spy service, as Belgians had a reputation for their language abilities. While Claude, Alex, and Rocco remained silent, late arrival Defense joined the line and when Barc repeated the call for German speakers, Defense volunteered, thinking they just needed an interpreter.[2]

Later that night, at Barc's bunker, Gaston listened to Defense's ability to speak in German, and the two French soldiers found the Belgian courier's skills sufficient for the job. Gaston thanked Defense for volunteering to perform this service, which then needed to be explained to Defense, who still was ignorant of the espionage mission. Gaston took Defense to the trenches, where Defense was given final instructions on how to spy on the German command bunker, and a warning that Germans did not take spies alive. As Defense fell asleep during his eavesdropping, Gaston warmed himself by a fire in the trenches, wondering when Defense would return. After an explosion at the German command bunker, Gaston spotted Defense running back towards the French lines, and pulled him into the trench before German machine guns could find them. Defense had learned that the Germans were bringing in two Big Bertha guns. They reported Defense's news immediately to Barc, who took Defense to the army headquarters to report to Nivelle.[2]

The next day, Gaston was back at the front trenches, watching the artillery barrage through the field glasses, and waiting for new orders, not knowing that General Henri Philippe Pétain had just dispatched new orders canceling Nivelle's attack orders. After Barc received Pétain's orders and argued over the phone with Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre, he sent Rocco to Gaston with orders not to prepare for an assault on Fort Douaumont until Barc issued further orders. As rain began to pour down on his troops, Gaston huddled silently, waiting for new word from Barc. Knowing that a charge would be an pointless waste of life, he wondered to himself if he could give the order for his men to attack. As the sun broke through the clouds, he walked down the trenches, and watched one of his men receiving blessing from a priest. Fortunately, Joffre's orders never arrived, as secretly Defense had destroyed them and fled the area.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Cris Campion played the role of Major Gaston in the episode "Verdun, September 1916" of the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.[3]

Field of Death incorrectly lists Gaston as a Lieutenant.[1]


Notes and references[]