This photograph is one of very few showing executions by French troops during the first weeks of the war. After the Battle of the Frontiers (10-28 August 1914), which ended in French defeat, French troops were forced to flee in particularly harsh conditions. In order to maintain the cohesion of the French army, orders were given to execute spies and traitors. Those killed were both civilians and soldiers: soldiers who had become separated from their units or contested orders, but also civilians unable to explain what they were doing there. We still know very little about those killed as historians tend to focus instead on the mutinies of 1917.