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Title: Verdun Argonne-Metz 1914-1918 - Michelin's Illustrated Guides to the Battle-fields (1914-1918)
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Michelin's Illustrated Guides to the Battle-Fields (1914-1918)




Michelin & Cie--Clermont-Ferrand

Michelin Tyre Co Ltd--London

Michelin Tire Co--Milltown, N.J., U.S.A.

[Illustration: _Diploma by_ Georges SCOTT, _given to Subscribers, by
the Committee of the_ =Memorial Fund of the Mortuary of Douaumont=.]





(_A War Fund authorised by Ministerial decree dated 3/12/19_)

On the battlefield of Verdun, millions of men engaged in a battle
of giants; 400,000 French soldiers fell there on a front of 20

A fund has been established with the object of erecting a Mortuary in
the centre of the battlefield, at a point whence the whole field may
be viewed.

The site chosen is situated between the Fort of Douaumont and the
Thiaumont redoubt (_See pages 96-99 of this Guide_).

The Patrons are Marshal FOCH, M. Raymond POINCARÉ, and His
Excellency, the cardinal DUBOIS.

The executive Committee, under the honorary presidency of Marshal
PÉTAIN, is presided over by S. G. Mgr GINISTY, Bishop of Verdun,
General BOICHUT, commanding the 12th Infantry Division, the
Commandant of Verdun, General VALANTIN, formerly commanding the town
and forts of Verdun and the Hauts-de-Meuse.

The names of all subscribers will be registered in a golden Book to
be kept in the basilica. At the top of the list will be the names
of the Founder members who have subscribed 500 francs or more. On
the inside walls of the monument will be carved inscriptions which
families may wish to place in memory of their dead.

An artistic diploma by Georges SCOTT is sent to every subscriber
of 20 francs, on which there is a reproduction of Marshal PÉTAIN'S
autograph and an acknowledgement of the subscriber's interest in the
memorial (_Photo. herewith_).

Subscriptions may be sent: to Verdun, to S. G. Mgr GINISTY, Bishop of
Verdun, and to Me SCHLEITER, solicitor; to Paris, to Princess Henri
DE POLIGNAC, 26, avenue Montaigne.

[Illustration: _2 inseparables_]

  The =Michelin= Road Map
  and Guide.

  =The Guide=, for the town.
  =The Map=, for the country.

  _They complete one another, without overlapping._

  _Use them together._





  Copyright 1919 by Michelin & Cie.

  _All rights of translation, adaptation or reproduction (in part or whole)
  reserved in all countries._

[Illustration: View of Verdun from the air (TN).]



=Verdun=, one of France's most ancient cities, was first a Gallic,
then under the name of _Virodunum Castrum_, a Roman fortress. In
843 the celebrated treaty which divided the Carolingian Empire and
annexed Verdun to the Kingdom of Lorraine was signed there. From 870
to 879 Verdun became part of France, but in 923 it was incorporated
in the German Empire. As a county, it was governed under the feudal
system by the hereditary counts, the last of whom was Godefroy de
Bouillon, and later by the episcopal counts and bishops.

In the 10th century, Bishop Haimont, of Verdun, persuaded the
Count of Verdun to transfer his rights to him. The arrangement was
confirmed by Emperor Othon III, but the count's heirs disputed the
bishops' title to the town. Later, the burgesses revolted against the
authority of the bishops, and after a sanguinary struggle succeeded
in throwing off their yoke about the middle of the 13th century.
After a long occupation by the Germans, Henri II, King of France,
retook Verdun in 1552 and granted it privileges which were confirmed
by François II in 1559. During the Religious Wars, the town was for
the Leaguers, and only agreed to receive Henry IV's envoy, after that
prince's conversion to the Roman Faith. The burgesses did not take
the oath of allegiance to the King of France until 1601.


Both in respect of its geographical position and history, Verdun
is a typical fortified town. From time immemorial it has played an
important part in resisting invasion, as witness its fortified camp
and citadel. Since 1870 it has been the centre of a stronghold formed
by a rough semi-circle of hills and slopes bristling with defensive
works and batteries.

Since the year 450, when Attila left it "like a field ravaged by wild
beasts", it has been besieged at least ten times.

Charles the Fifth besieged and took it in 1544, but after a seven
years occupation it was retaken by Henry II of France in 1552. The
Huguenots tried to take it by surprise in 1589, but were unable to
overcome the resistance of the citizens.

=Siege of 1792.=--In 1792, the Prussians attacked and bombarded
the town, defended by Beaurepaire with only thirty-two guns and
forty-four artillerymen. The Council of Defence, urged thereto by the
Anti-Republican section of the population, decided to capitulate,
in spite of opposition on the part of Beaurepaire, who died soon
afterwards at the Town Hall by his own hand, according to some,
others holding that he was assassinated. The Prussians occupied
the town for six weeks, after the garrison had left. Although it
is true that a few women went to the Camp of Bras with an offering
of sweetmeats for the King of Prussia, it has not been established
that the latter gave a ball at Regret, at which the women of Verdun
danced. The victory of Valmy forced the Prussians to leave Verdun.
On October 13th, Kellermann took possession of the Citadel, and on
the 14th the troops of the Republic entered the town. Several of the
visitors to the Camp of Bras expiated their regrettable act on the

=Siege of 1870.=--In 1870, Verdun offered a more stubborn resistance.
When the Saxon troops, about 10,000 in number, appeared to the east
of the town, the garrison of the latter comprised only 1,500 regular
troops, including fifty artillerymen, 2,000 untrained men and 1,400
men of the National Sedentary Guard, while its armament consisted
of twenty mortars, twenty-one howitzers and ninety-six guns, of
which the barrels of only forty-six were rifled. Under the command
of General Guérin de Waldersbach, seconded by General Marmier, this
small garrison repulsed a violent attack on August 24th, and refused
to surrender. After being reinforced by 2,600 men who had escaped
from Sedan, several sallies were made. By September 23rd the enemy
had completely encircled the town, and were forcing the inhabitants
of the surrounding villages to help with the siege-works. On the
night of October 19th, thirty sappers, twenty-five artillerymen and
100 foot soldiers surprised the two German batteries on Heyvaux
Hill, between Thierville and Regret, on the left bank, and after
hand-to-hand fighting, spiked all the guns.

After the fall of Metz, Verdun, besieged by 15,000 men with 140 heavy
guns, in addition to field artillery, surrendered on November 8th
with the honours of war.

The town had been bombarded three times. On August 24th it received
about 2,000 shells; on September 26th the Citadel received 1,000 to
1,200 shells in five hours; on October 13th, 14th and 15th 20,000 to
25,000 shells fell in the town, severely damaging the upper part and
the Citadel.

The name of the German Prefect who governed Verdun and the Meuse
province was Von Bethmann Hollweg.


_After the attack of the German right wing by Maunoury's army, the
English army and Franchet d'Esperey's army threatened to break the
communication between the first and second German armies and cause
their hasty retreat which was reflected gradually all along the


After the French manoeuvre at the frontiers was checked and with
the threat of a German envelopment in the West, General Joffre
steadfastly withdrew from the battle and ordered a general retreat
until the moment when the French troops were reunited. As soon as a
favourable moment offered, it would be possible to take up a position
and then to drive back the enemy.

The plan was as follows: to carry out on the left a mass movement
(6th Army under Maunoury) to outflank, at the propitious moment,
the German right, while a general attack or at any rate a desperate
resistance should take place on all the rest of the front, from Paris
to the Vosges.

The enemy's objective was first of all to wipe out the allied forces,
the right having instructions to pursue the French left and the
English army, before turning upon Paris which was to be seized like
a plum ready to be picked! In the centre, the Crown Prince was in
command of the pursuit: he saw his fourth cavalry corps pushing out
their scouts towards the line, Dijon-Besançon-Belfort.

Here were dreams of triumph destined to give place to surprise, then
doubt and finally the bitterness of defeat.

On September 5th, Gallieni reported the Germans creeping towards
the South-East. The moment for the French manoeuvre had arrived and
Joffre launched the general offensive.

On September 6th-7th, the Sixth Army attacked the German right wing.
To guard himself against this flank menace, Von Kluck brought up
three army corps in succession from his frontal attack.

September 7th-8th. This diminution of strength allowed the English
Army and the second French Army under Franchet d'Esperey to advance.

September 9th-10th. The Second Army threatened to cut off the contact
between the First and Second German Armies and to take them in rear.
Under this threat they determined upon a hasty retreat the effect of
which made itself gradually felt along the whole of the German front
(September 10th-13th).

=The part played by Verdun in the defence and by the Third Army in
the battle.=

After the battle of the Frontiers, the Third Army likewise beat a
retreat. Having reached the left bank of the Meuse, the army pivoted
on its right which rested on the fortress of Verdun, stopping
frequently to delay the pursuit of the Crown Prince's army.

=September 6th, 7th and 8th.= While the Duke of Wurtemburg pressed
heavily upon the right of the Fourth Army (under Langle de Cary), the
Crown Prince vigorously set upon the left of Sarrail in an attempt to
break completely through the pivot by Trouée de Revigny, valleys of
Ornain and Saulx. He hoped to cut off Sarrail who, when attacked at
the same time in rear on the Heights of the Meuse, would find himself
surrounded and forced to surrender. But these ambitious plans were
thwarted by the vigorous action of the left of the Fifth Corps and
the Fifteenth which was withdrawn en masse from the Army of Lorraine
(under Castelnau).


=September 9th.= On its left the Third Army continued to engage the
Germans on the flank, while the right wing, though vigorously holding
its ground before frontal attacks, remained in a precarious position
owing to the standing menace of the German forces in rear on the
Hauts-de-Meuse. Sarrail received permission from the General-in-Chief
to withdraw his right, if need be, and to leave the permanent
garrison of Verdun to secure the defence of the Fortress. But the
General of the Third Army held fast with heroic determination and
would not give up his entrenched position as long as the Meuse was
not liberated and while a ray of hope appeared.

=September 10th.= The forts of Troyon and Genicourt, on the
Hauts-de-Meuse, continued to hold out against heavy artillery
bombardment. The barrier of the Meuse was not cleared but, to guard
against any eventuality, Sarrail transferred two divisions to the
West of Saint-Mihiel.

=September 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th.= Coming from the German right,
the advancing wave gradually overtook the armies of the Prince of
Wurtemburg and the Crown Prince. The two latter, mad with rage, were
forced to withdraw their forces in echelon, while Sarrail's army
pivoting round Verdun harassed the enemy as far as Argonne. Thus the
battle of the Marne was won by the same troops who had just undergone
the repulse of the battle of the Frontiers and, when overwrought
with fatigue, had successfully accomplished a retreat unprecedented
in history. The undaunted spirit of Commander-in-Chief Joffre, the
well-defined and masterful strategy which he planned and carried out
in strict collaboration with his highly courageous army commanders,
above all the superhuman bravery of the rank and file, to these
factors is due what to-day we call "The Miracle of the Marne".

"The fate of the War was settled at its commencement, in 1914, on
the Marne, where the French General indeed saved France against the
fierce onslaught of a whole nation."

So wrote the _Berliner Tageblatt_ after the War.


[Illustration: OCTOBER 1914-AUGUST 1915.--_The enemy strove to cut
off Verdun. On the East, the Salient of Saint-Mihiel. On the West,
the battle of Argonne._]

[Illustration: FEBRUARY 1916-AUGUST 1916.--_In a terrific and
desperate encounter the enemy threw themselves at Verdun. They were
hurled back by a magnificent defence._

OCTOBER 1916-AUGUST 1917.--_Three French attacks drove the enemy back
to their original attacking positions._]

[Illustration: SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 1918. _The Salient of Saint-Mihiel
was straightened during the great final offensive when Verdun was
completely liberated by the French-American forces._]



(_September-October 1914_)

=The formation of the Saint-Mihiel salient.=

After the battle of the Marne, the Crown Prince established
his lines of resistance north of the fortress, on the line


On September 20th, the third Bavarian Corps attacked the 75th
reserve division, advanced rapidly on the 22nd as far as the line
Combres-Vigneulles-Thiaucourt and bombarded the forts of the
Hauts-de-Meuse. This line was defended by mobile troops outnumbered
by two to one.

On the 25th, the Germans succeeded in getting a footing on the
Hauts-de-Meuse in the region of Vigneulles. From there they pushed on
to Saint-Mihiel and entered the town, without however being able to
cross the Meuse. But on the following day, the river which was only
defended at this point by a battalion of territorials was cleared,
and the Germans started to climb again towards the valley of Aire,
in the direction of Verdun. At this dangerous moment, the sixteenth
corps which had left Nancy met the German forces, harassing them and
forcing them to fall back on the suburbs of Saint-Mihiel. It did not,
however, succeed in forcing them to withdraw on the right bank of the
Meuse. On September 29th the line ran through Combres, Chauvoncourt,
Apremont, Flirey, Le Bois le Prêtre.

The salient was made.

The enemy were attacked without cessation during the months of
October, November and December. Towards Saint-Mihiel the enemy held
their position on the left bank of the stream.

The crest of Les Éparges, after being held firmly by the enemy from
September 1914, was strongly attacked on April 6th by the twelfth
Infantry Division who struggled obstinately for over a month before
they wrested from the Germans the observation posts which from this
crest, gave near views towards the North. This brilliant action was
followed by counter-attacks by the Fifth German Corps, which were
particularly violent during the day-time of April 24th and May 5th.
Starting from this moment, the struggle assumed a less stubborn
character, but none the less keen and murderous. (_See page 129._)


[Illustration: THE VILLAGE OF FORGES IN 1915.

_A footbridge of wagons crossing the stream of Forges._]

[Illustration: LES ÉPARGES IN 1915.

_During a period of quiet, a plant for making rings has been
installed at the entrance of a dug-out._]




_In the middle a company in Indian file is going up to the line._]


=The battle in the forest= (_October 1914-October 1915_).

The stationary warfare assumed a special character in the Argonne.
Lanes and footpaths formed the only breaks in the impenetrable
thickets. There were no gentle slopes, no convenient firing positions
for the infantry, no observation posts for the artillery--everything
was concealed by the thick foliage.

Springs rose everywhere and rivulets ran over the clayey soil. Mud
made the paths impassable, and filled up the trenches as soon as
they were made. French and German trenches intersected. Firing was
continuous, snipers perched here and there in trees taking careful
aim, while at night rifle and machine gun fire at random continued
uninterruptedly, sweeping the forest in order to prevent surprise and
to make movement dangerous. But the rifle was merely an auxiliary
weapon, as each army rained showers of grenades and bombs upon the
other all day long.

Apart from actual battles, there were hundreds of casualties, killed
and wounded, every day. In the attack or defence of a trench, the
fighting immediately became a hand-to-hand struggle, with knives
and revolvers. Underground there was a continuous digging of saps
and mines; it was a contest of speed and skill between the opposing
sappers. It was a case of blowing up the enemy first or being blown
up by him. Over the wrecked trenches, destroyed by mines, through
smoke and under a rain of earth thrown up by the explosions, the
soldiers dashed forward to occupy the crater or to fight for it if
the enemy had reached it first.

[Illustration: A FIGHT WITH BOMBS.

_French foot-soldiers throwing back at the enemy bombs which they
have captured from them._]

During the first three months of 1915, between Four-de-Paris and the
valley of the Aire, the French sappers excavated over 3,000 metres of
mine galleries and fired 52 mine chambers, using nearly 16,000 lbs of

Later on, the mine warfare developed considerably in other
directions, and mine-chambers charged with more than 130,000 lbs of
explosives were fired.

=The German pushes towards Four-de-Paris=

(_October 1914-May 1915_).

The enemy wanted to reach the valley of the Biesme across the wood of
Grurie and Bolante.

In October, advancing to the sap, the Germans of von Mudra's army
corps took Bagatelle and Saint-Hubert. At the end of November the
Four-de-Paris--Varennes road was abandoned by the French.

1914-MAY 1915).]

At the end of December, the Second French Corps cleared Four-de-Paris.

In January, the Garibaldians (Italian volunteers) attacked in the
direction of Bolante.

On January 8th, the Germans hurled themselves upon the outskirts of
Bolante. For three whole days the foot soldiers of the 31st, 46th,
76th and 89th regiments as well as the Garibaldians were at close
grips with the Silesian and Hessian chasseurs, fierce struggles
taking place.

In spite of all their furious attacks, the enemy could not get to the
Biesme, but they succeeded in driving a deep and narrow wedge in the
French lines in the direction of Four-de-Paris.

=French attacks in the valley of the Aire.=

While these obstinate encounters were going on in the forest of
Argonne, the 9th and 10th French Divisions (5th Corps) attacked in
the valley of the Aire and set out to storm Vauquois, a village
perched on a mound commanding all the valley, which the enemy had
constituted a defensive centre and a first class observation post.

From December to February, on ground that was transformed into a sea
of mud, attacks on Boureuilles carried the French lines to 250 metres
from the village.

From October 28th 1914 to March 1st 1915, four attacks were launched
against Vauquois, the summit of which was reached by the French
troops of the 10th Division. The struggle extended around the mine
craters until 1916. (_See page 144._)

=The big German attacks= (_June-July 1915_).

In June and July 1915, the German commander gave up local attacks and
had recourse to massed attacks of men and material on fronts of 3 to
4 kilometres.

The first attack (on June 20th) was on the North side and then (July
2nd) on the East side of the salient of Fontaine-Madame.

=On June 20th= in the morning, after a violent bombardment of gas
shells, two Prussian and Wurtemburg divisions attacked in the wood of
Grurie. The foot-soldiers of the 32nd Corps, though gassed and almost
buried in their trenches, put up a fierce resistance. Their positions
were subjected to a veritable siege. The enemy, however, captured

[Illustration: THE BIG GERMAN ATTACKS (MAY-JULY 1915).]

Up to June 28th, French counter-attacks succeeded in recapturing part
of the lost ground.

=On June 30th=, the Germans extended their attack up to the north of
Four-de-Paris. The enemy advanced to within 8 kilometres of their
objective, the railway station of Les Islettes. The fire of the 75's,
however, barred the road and the French reserves counter-attacked.

=On July 2nd=, there was an artillery bombardment of even greater

The famous 42nd Division of Fère-Champenoise and the Yser withstood
the attack with a heroism that won admiration even from the enemy.

The Germans could not capture the valley of the Biesme, in spite of
their terrific efforts and heavy sacrifices.

In July 1915, the French front in the sectors of Bolante and
Fille-Morte, followed the ridge which dominates the ravine of the
Meurrissons, and passed over perpendicularly the Haute-Chevauchée
road, comprising the dominating hills 285 and further to the East 263.

From this line which was provided with good observation posts,
a French attack could take in rear the German lines that were
established in front of Four-de-Paris.

1914-APRIL 1915).]

This attack after being fixed for July 11th was postponed to July
14th. The enemy, however, forestalled it by himself attacking on
=July 13th=.


After a bombardment of exceptional ferocity (nearly 50,000 shells)
and the blowing up of several mines, 5 regiments of the Metz army
attacked. They came out from saps which had been run up to within a
short distance of shell-shattered French trenches.

The enemy crept in by small columns and surrounded the front lines.
Under an avalanche of heavy shells, which annihilated a large number
of men in their dug-outs, the French gave ground, to avoid being
overwhelmed or outflanked. The enemy patrols then crossed the second
French line.

The reserves of the 5th Corps, 131st, 82nd, 89th Infantry Regiments
and the 66th battalion of chasseurs were brought up along ravines
infested with gas, to the counter-attack. Without artillery
preparation, they deployed under heavy rifle fire and then proceeded
to clear the forest at the point of the bayonet and retook part of
the first position.

=From October 1915 To September 1918.=

In October the Argonne front suddenly became as calm as it had
previously been active. The Germans were content with a defensive
policy. The struggle for the saps was renewed, trenches were blown
up by mines and the mine craters were disputed by short bombing

In 1916, during the battle of Verdun, the Argonne was especially
the scene of artillery duels and of mine warfare on the plateau of
Bolante, at Hill 285 and at Vauquois.

(_View from the air, May 1917_).

_E._ Site of the church.--_L. F._ French lines.--_L. A._ German lines.

The German mine opposite the church had been charged with 60 tons
of explosives. Notice on the German side, the entrances to the
galleries excavated under the mound.]




During 1915, Germany was particularly on the defensive, in Artois
(May-June) and in Champagne (September-October). Her successes in
Serbia and Russia had not brought the final victory which could only
be won on the Western front.

Germany feared an allied offensive and was anxious over the continual
increase of their forces in men and material. To forestall this
offensive would cause it to miscarry and keep the initiative in her
own hands.

The Germans wanted too, to make an impression on the world at large
which began to have doubts about her ultimate victory. Finally they
were influenced by political considerations at home. The rationing
of the population had lowered the general morale, and the prestige
of the Crown Prince had slumped heavily on account of his failure
in Argonne. A grand victory was necessary to strengthen the German
morale, to appease dissension and to rehabilitate the prestige of
the Imperial family. The German High Command chose Verdun. Was this
choice of ground as paradoxical as it has been said?

"_Verdun in all the war is the hinge of the door which swings open
sometimes on France, sometimes on Germany_". (L. GILLET.)

To capture Verdun was to threaten the whole French right wing, to
gain an important stake, a stronghold fronting the rich basin of
Briey, and to get the benefit of a great moral effect.

The Verdun salient lent itself to converging enemy attacks and
concentrated fire. On the right bank the defenders of Verdun would be
fighting with their backs to the Meuse. The neighbourhood of Verdun
with its valleys and woods, facilitated the moving of troops and the
concentration of artillery screened from view.

The enemy too had fourteen railways at his disposal and Metz close at
hand from which to bring up troops and supplies.

On the French side, there was only one broad gauge railway connecting
Verdun, via Saint-Menehould, with the rest of France. This
railway, too, was always liable to be cut off by shell-fire. (_See
illustration opposite_).

[Illustration: _The only communication between Verdun and the
rear was by the Meusian railway and the "Sacred Way". The
Verdun-Commercy railway was cut by the Saint-Mihiel salient and the
Verdun-Sainte-Menehould railway would be cut by shell fire at the
very outset of the battle._]

=Geographical Sketch.=

The table-lands of Verdun where the battle was to be fought are the
last of the series of heights which form the top of the basin in
which Paris lies. The Meuse which often overflows in winter divides
them from North to South.

The terrace of the table-lands of the right bank, for some ten
kilometres in width, separates the valley of the Meuse from the
marshy plain of the Woëvre.

Numerous streams flow at a depth of more than a hundred metres for a
very short distance, thus hollowing out deep ravines which give to
the hills of the Meuse a contour "jagged, cut in festoons, as though
it was hand-modelled in a clay substance". The summit line, where not
indented, contains the highest points (388 m.), keys to the battle

"_All this country with its partitions and compartments seemed built
like a natural fortress. The sheltered ways and ravines provided
covered approaches and first-rate artillery positions. Every wood and
copse could be converted into a redoubt._

"_If the branching off of the valleys and their innumerable
ramifications added to the dangers of movement or manoeuvre or
facilitated surprise attacks, the ridges, on the other hand, made
marvellous observation posts. On all sides were the very slopes,
banks and flank protection which engineers could desire._" (L.
GILLET: _La Bataille de Verdun_).

=German plans for a decisive attack.=

Following the lesson of the offensives in Artois (May 1915) and
Champagne (September 1915), the German commander intended to put
into practice the French offensive methods but to add, by means of
artillery fire, an unparalleled ferocity. To concentrate masses
of artillery, to cut by shell fire the only broad-gauge railway
that connected Verdun with France (_see plan p. 18_), to flatten
out the French defences, to isolate the occupants by barrages of
heavy shells, then to rush headlong on the town and crush the last
resistance, at the same time sending forward overwhelming masses of
troops, without regard to losses: such was the plan which the Germans
carried out on February 21st, 1916.


_The enemy concentration round the fortress of Verdun._]

=Character of the battle of Verdun=

The battle of Verdun was a battle of annihilation, mutual
annihilation. The method was to concentrate the fire of all the
guns, not over a line but on a zone, and not only on the position
to be captured but also as far as possible in rear on everything
that could support the position. The simile that best expresses it
is no longer that of a battering ram striking against a wall, but
that of a rammer falling perpendicularly and hammering an encircled
zone. The encircled zone was the part where the old territorials
who were screening from observation a road behind the lines, ran
almost as great a danger as men in other battles did in an attacking
wave. Here, while the shells continued to fall, no fatigue party of
men or munitions could go three hundred metres without being wiped
out entirely. Here the wounded in deep-dug aid-posts went mad from
lack of air. Here often a mug of water meant life or death to a
man. This encircled zone was bounded by a narrow stretch of ground
which the opposing artilleries tried to spare because the infantry
were fighting there hand to hand, with bombs, machine guns, and
flame-throwers; every square yard of ground being hotly disputed.


"In front of Verdun, one day, the O. C. of a new force asks the
officer of the chasseurs whom he has just relieved: "Where does our
line run here?--I'll show you. There where you will find on the
ground my dead chasseurs, lying side by side, that is where our line

"In front of Verdun, one day, a battalion commander being completely
cut off sends twenty runners one after another, to the Colonel's
headquarters. These runners are bound to follow a certain track to
go and another to return. Not one comes back and on the next day he
finds the bodies of all twenty, ten lying on the path there and ten
on the path back.

"In front of Verdun, one day, at nightfall, a battalion commander
goes up towards the front line to see his men and cheer them on. The
front line is a string of shell holes and in these holes, one by one,
the men are crouched. He leans over one of these pits of darkness,
for the night was pitch black, and in a low voice so that the enemy
may not hear asks: "How goes it?". There is no movement but a voice
replies in muffled tones as though telling a secret: "All well,
Colonel, they shall not pass". He goes on his way continuing his
rounds "How goes it?" and from each dark shell-hole rises the same
secret whisper.



"Where was that? At Mort-Homme or Froideterre? At Haudromont farm
or Chapelle Sainte-Fine? It makes no difference! It was "in front
of Verdun, one day" any day you like in this battle, in which so
many days were alike, and these innumerable stories, so magnificent
that no poet could have had the genius to invent one of them, these
stories--each one so immortal--are all as alike in their essentials
as were the countless actions in this "battle of annihilation"
(JOSEPH BÉDIER: _L'Effort français_).



[Illustration: FEBRUARY 21ST-25TH 1916.--THE CENTRAL ATTACK.]



_The central attack (February 21st-25th) endangered the position of
Verdun but the arrival of the first French reinforcements saved the

_The enemy widened his attacking front, but his effort to outflank
the position was a failure._

_The defence was reorganised, road and rail taking their part in the
battle. The enemy's attempts at attrition on the spot were a failure._

_On July 1st the allied offensive was launched on the Somme._


[Illustration: DECEMBER 15TH 1916.--THE BATTLE OF

[Illustration: AUGUST 20TH 1917.--THE BATTLE OF HILL 304 AND

_As soon as this new engagement allowed him, the French Commander
intended to turn the enemy's failure before Verdun into defeat._

_Three operations were prepared with the greatest skill and
most energetically carried out, by which the enemy were driven
out of the positions they had captured. These were the three
victories of October 24th 1916 (Douaumont-Vaux), December 15th
1916 (Louvemont-Bezonvaux) and finally August 20th, 1917
(Samogneux-Mort-Homme, Hill 304)._

[Illustration: THE CENTRAL ATTACK (FEBRUARY 21ST-26TH 1916).

_This attack was carried on from February 21st to 26th on the right
bank of the Meuse and narrowed its front as it advanced, finally
stopping on the sixth day at Poivre Hill and Douaumont._]


(_February-August 1916_).

1. =The central attack.=

=On February 21st 1916=, at 7.15 a.m., the enemy opened fire on the
two banks of the Meuse, over a front of 40 kilometres. Simultaneously
Verdun was systematically bombarded, the last residents being
evacuated by the military authority at midday on the 25th.

For nine hours, all the enemy guns and trench mortars kept up a
running fire without intermission. In all the woods adjoining
the front it was a regular fire-work display. A feature of this
overwhelming bombardment was the enormous proportion of heavy calibre
shells, 150's and 210's coming over like hailstones.

Under this deluge of projectiles all trenches were levelled, the
woods became a twisted mass of trunks and branches, and villages
collapsed and were blotted out.

The infantry attack was launched at 4.15 p.m. just before dusk, from
the Haumont-Ornes wood.

Three army corps, the 7th, 18th and 3rd advanced. They thought that
they had only to march, with their rifles slung, over ground like a
ploughed field.

The 51st (Boulengé) and 72nd Divisions (Bapst) of the 30th Corps
(Chrétien) sustained the first shock and for three days covered the
arrival of French reinforcements.

A heroic combat followed the most formidable artillery preparation
hitherto known. The chasseurs of Colonel Driant resisted the attack,
inch by inch, in the wood of Caures. By nightfall the advance of the
enemy was insignificant compared with their losses. They succeeded,
however, in capturing the wood of Haumont.

=On the 22nd=, with snow falling, the bombardment was resumed with,
if possible, greater intensity. Colonel Driant in the wood of
Caures was outflanked on both sides and died fighting, after first
evacuating his chasseurs to Beaumont.

Meanwhile the sectors of Woëvre and the left bank of the Meuse were
subjected to violent bombardment.

The fighting =on the 23rd= was even more furious. Brabant fell
into the hands of the enemy after a fierce resistance by the 351st
Infantry Regiment, which clung desperately to the ruins of Samogneux
until nightfall. Further east the battle raged fiercely. The French
counter-attacked unsuccessfully at Caures Wood and were attacked at
Herbebois. The 51st Infantry Division, fell back, making the enemy
pay dearly for his progress towards Fosses Wood. In the evening, the
front extended along the Samogneux-Beaumont-Ornes line. Samogneux
was captured by the enemy during the night. The situation was very

=On the 24th=, the enemy brought up fresh storm troops and, although
harassed by the French artillery on the left bank of the Meuse, they
succeeded in taking Hill 344 to the East of Samogneux, Fosses Wood
and the village of Ornes. But on the same day French reinforcements
arrived, namely the 37th Infantry Division of the 7th Corps, the 31st
and 306th Brigades of the 20th Corps under General Balfourier who
provisionally took charge from the Meuse to the Woëvre. At the same
time also General Pétain took over the command of the army of Verdun
from General de Castelnau.

=On the 25th=, the 37th Infantry Division, with orders to defend
Talou Hill and Louvemont village, resisted for a long time against
incredibly furious attacks, but on their right the enemy succeeded in
capturing Vauche Wood and, advancing towards Douaumont, carried the
fort by surprise (_see page 88_). However, their efforts to take the
village failed before the heroic tenacity of the 31st Brigade, while
the 94th Infantry Division, covered itself with glory. The enemy
advance from this side had the effect of compelling the 31st Infantry
Division to abandon Talou Hill.

During this time, in Woëvre, the front which was a dangerous salient
and only very lightly held, was withdrawn to the foot of the Meuse
Hills. This falling back was carefully cloaked and under cover of a
rearguard action a new front was organised.

Taking over the command on the night of the 25th, General Pétain at
once divided the battle-line into four sectors, officered as follows:
General Bazelaire, on the left bank, from Avocourt to the river;
General Guillaumat, from the Meuse to Douaumont; General Balfourier,
from this point to the Woëvre; General Duchesne, on the Meuse Heights.

There were no trenches, but he ordered that the forts should at least
be connected by a continuous line of entrenchments to be made while
the battle was at its height and which the "poilus", in their disdain
for the shovel and pick, called the "Panic Line". The entire 59th
Division was told off to build the earthworks on the second and third
lines. Thirteen battalions kept in repair the road from Bar-le-Duc to
Verdun, via Souilly (the =Sacred Way=), which became the main artery
for re-victualling the place in men and munitions, and along which
1,700 motor lorries passed each way daily. Lastly, General Pétain
managed to imbue all ranks with his energy and faith, and the enemy's
drive was stopped.

Indeed, during =the day of the 26th=, the 39th Division (Nourisson),
which had relieved the 37th, repulsed all attacks on Poivre Hill,
while the 31st Brigade continued to hold Douaumont until relieved in
the evening by the 2nd Division (Guignabaudet).

On the following days the fighting continued about and in the streets
of Douaumont, which the enemy finally captured on March 4th. The
Germans now began to show signs of weakening. Their effort on the
right bank had failed. Checked at Douaumont, they were taken in the
rear by the French positions on the left bank, and were obliged to
modify their plans. From that time they operated simultaneously or
successively on both banks.



(MARCH 1916).]


[Illustration: ON THE "SACRED WAY" (MARCH 1916).]



_The central attack which was to capture Verdun and force back the
French wings failed before it came to a head. The Germans, caught
on the flank by the French artillery on the left bank of the Meuse
attacked all at once, then alternately on both banks._]

2.--=The battle on the flanks= (_March-April 1916_).

The German offensive was unable on the right bank of the Meuse to
yield the expected results. The enemy intended to combine operations
on both banks.

=On March 6th=, two German divisions attacked from Bethincourt to
Forges, where the French front was held by the 67th Division (Aimé)
and succeeded in taking Forges and Regnéville, but were checked by
the positions on Oie Hill.

Continuing their advance, =on the 7th=, they succeeded in capturing
these positions, as well as Corbeaux Wood. The village of Cumières
was the scene of terrible fighting, but remained in the hands of the
French, while further to the west the enemy's attacks broke down at
Mort-Homme (_See page 112_).

=On March 8th=, while on the left bank French troops retook Corbeaux,
on the right bank the Germans brought into line units of five army
corps and began a general attack, which failed with very heavy
losses, their only gain being the capture of part of Vaux village.

=On the 9th=, they succeeded in getting a footing on the slopes of
Mort-Homme, but at the other end of the battle-line their attack on
Vaux Fort failed. Their radiograms announcing the capture of the fort
were untrue (_See page 68_).

=On the 10th=, Corbeaux Wood was taken by the Germans and the French
withdrew to the line Bethincourt-Mort-Homme, south of the Corbeaux
and Cumières Woods. The battle continued in the village and in front
of Vaux Fort, strongly held by the French. The enemy temporarily
ceased his massed attacks. In reality his offensive had failed.

=On March 10th=, Joffre was able to say to the soldiers of Verdun:

_"For three weeks you have withstood the most formidable attack
which the enemy has yet made. Germany counted on the success of this
effort, which she believed would prove irresistible, and for which
she used her best troops and most powerful artillery. She hoped by
the capture of Verdun to strengthen the courage of her Allies and
convince neutrals of German superiority. But she reckoned without
you! The eyes of the country are on you. You belong to those of whom
it will be said: "They barred the road to Verdun!"_

=From March 11th to April 9th= the aspect of the battle changed. Wide
front attacks gave place to local actions, short, violent and limited
in scope. On March 14th the enemy captured, from the 75th Brigade,
Hill 265 forming the Western portion of Mort-Homme, but they failed
to take the Eastern portion. On the 20th, Avocourt and Malancourt
Woods fell into the hands of the Bavarians, and after a fierce
struggle the village of Malancourt was lost, and then Bethincourt on
April 8th. On the right bank, after powerful attacks near Vaux, the
enemy reached Caillette Wood and the Vaux-Fleury railway, only to be
driven back by the 5th Division (Mangin).

A furious attack was made along both banks by the Germans at noon =on
April 9th=; on the left bank, five divisions were engaged, failing
everywhere except at the Mort-Homme, where, despite the heroic
resistance of the 42nd Division (Deville), they gained a footing on
the N. E. slopes; on the right bank, Poivre Hill was attacked but
remained in French hands.

On the following day in his order of the day, General Pétain
promulgated his famous message "_Courage ... we shall beat them!_"
(_Reproduction page 30_).

=On April 30th=, General Nivelle superseded in supreme command of the
Verdun forces General Pétain who had been appointed to the command
of the central army group.

     "_April 9th was a glorious day for our armies_", General
     Pétain declared in his order of the day dated the 10th, "_the
     furious attacks of the soldiers of the Crown Prince broke down
     everywhere. The infantry, artillery, sappers and aviators of the
     2nd Army vied with one another in valour._

     "_Honour to all._

     "_No doubt the Germans will attack again. Let all work and
     watch, that yesterday's success be continued._

     "_Courage! We shall beat them!_"

                                                       Ch. Pétain


[Illustration: MORT-HOMME.--HILLS 286 AND 295.

_In the background, the valley of the Forges stream, Bethincourt on
the left, Forges wood on the right._]



_The struggle continued obstinately and without interruption on the
two banks of the Meuse. The attempt of the enemy to wear down the
French forces was in vain, the latter re-organising their defences.
Division succeeded division in the defence of Verdun but then were
relieved before they were exhausted, so that they came out of the
furnace better able to stand its hardships._]

3. =The battle of attrition= (_May-August 1916_).

In May the enemy attacked on the left bank of the Meuse with an
assault upon Mort-Homme. Then, widening their attacking front in a
Westerly direction, they turned upon Hill 304, a strong key position
and valuable observation post. The French lost this Hill =on May
23rd= but retook it the following day. A further month's bitter
fighting only gained for the enemy the crest of Mort-Homme and the
north slopes of Hill 304.

=On May 22nd=, with the object of clearing the left bank of the Meuse
where the enemy were pressing, the 5th Division (Mangin) attacked on
the right bank, in the direction of Douaumont. The central attack
alone was successful, the enemy holding their ground inside the fort;
their numerous reserves, among them the 1st Bavarian Corps, succeeded
in dislodging the attackers =on May 24th= (_See page 90_).

Even though Douaumont remained in the enemy's hands, this attack
was successful in freeing the left bank by drawing upon the German
reserves. The struggle continued without respite or quarter. The
Germans, alarmed by the preparations for the Franco-British offensive
on the Somme, wished to be finished with Verdun. They, therefore,
launched attack after attack but every time they were met by the
irresistible will of the French.

The enemy, who in April had captured the village of Vaux, next
furiously attacked the fort, and though =on June 2nd= they occupied
the superstructure, it took them five days to subdue the garrison
(_See page 71_).

At the same time they advanced from Douaumont towards Froideterre.
=On June 9th=, Thiaumont Farm was captured, but the redoubt still
held out. On the left bank, the enemy resumed their attacks. =On May
31st=, they outflanked Mort-Homme by the Meuse valley and reached
Chattancourt station, but were driven back by a counter attack as
far as Cumières. Even if they captured the summit of Hill 304, they
could not conquer the South slopes, and they were still far from the
fortified barrier of Bois Bourrus.

On the right bank, on the other hand, by holding Douaumont and Vaux
the enemy were at hand to break through the barrier of Souville and
had within view the basin of Verdun. Here it was that the enemy were
going to work for the supreme decision.

=On June 23rd=, 70,000 men attacked on the front
Thiaumont-Fleury-Vaux. Thiaumont redoubt was captured, waves
of attackers being hurled upon the Froideterre redoubt. A
counter-attack, however, cleared the plain as far as Thiaumont. In
the centre, the enemy by outflanking Fleury on both sides gained a
footing there, but in front of Souville they failed utterly (_See
page 77_).

=On July 11th=, the enemy narrowed their attacking front, from Fleury
to Damloup. Putting 40,000 men into the attack, they went through
Fleury and crept round by the ravine to the west of the village. They
gained a temporary footing in Souville fort from which they were
almost immediately ejected (_See page 80_).

In spite of partial successes, the enemy had failed in their main
objectives. Their losses had been enormous and the Franco-British
offensive, launched on the Somme on July 1st, took up their

After nearly five month's siege, Verdun was safe. Still bitter
fighting raged right on until the middle of August, centreing chiefly
round Thiaumont redoubt which changed hands 16 times, Fleury village,
recaptured on August 18th after many attempts, and in the woods south
of Vaux where the enemy endeavoured to outflank Souville.


_Echelons of artillery on the slope of Houdainville._

_A pinnace, used as a rest billet, hit by a 380._

_Mass being celebrated in the church of Vaubecourt which had been
burnt by bombs from aeroplanes._]

[Illustration: IN THE VAUX SECTOR.

_A fatigue party coming from Tavannes tunnel.--Trenches of the Laufée
redoubt (June 1916).--Soldiers going to fetch water from shell-holes
in the ravine of Tavannes._]


_The French offensives of October 24th and December 15th 1916._]


=The French offensive of October 24th 1916.=

In August 1916, the battle of Verdun was a severe check to Germany.
It was about to turn into a French victory.

The object was to link up once again the unbroken line of fortresses
round Verdun. The time for small attacks aiming at the recapture of a
few hundred yards was past. After having first straightened out the
salients which the enemy had driven into the French line during June
and July, it was only by a complete and simultaneous forward movement
that they could make a really useful gain of ground.

To carry the operations to success, Generals Nivelle and Mangin
had a powerful artillery force at their command, consisting of 290
field-guns and over 300 heavy guns. Three picked divisions were to
form the front attacking line, the 38th (Guyot de Salins) reinforced
on the left by the 11th Line Regiment, the 133rd (Passaga), known as
"La Gauloise" and the 74th (de Lardemelle). The front line of the
enemy consisted of seven divisions.

The French commander intended to win the day not only by the
superiority of the troops under his command, but by giving them
training and carrying out with precision a new tactical method of
attack. The liaison which is so difficult between artillery and
infantry was perfectly arranged, following a carefully pre-arranged

The attacking waves kept just behind a running barrage which slowly
lifted forward according to programme.

The attack was made with a double line, and a halt was arranged to
allow the units engaged to reorganise.

On October 21st, the artillery preparation started, and was carefully
controlled and regulated day by day. On the 23rd a fire broke out in
Douaumont fort. On the same day a feint attack gave away the position
of new enemy batteries which were at once silenced. This feint
deceived the Germans, the Crown Prince being actually deluded into
announcing that he had broken up a strong French attack.

The enemy were on their guard; on the 23rd, a German officer taken
prisoner said positively: "We shall not capture Verdun any more than
you will retake Douaumont".

At 11 a.m. =on the 24th=, in a thick fog, the attack succeeded
brilliantly, giving the French the Haudromont quarries, Thiaumont
redoubts and farm, Douaumont fort and village (_see page 92_), the
northern edge of Caillette wood, right up to Vaux pond, the edge
of Fumin wood and Damloup battery. On the 24th and 25th more than
6,000 prisoners were taken and 15 guns. On November 2nd, when they
re-entered Vaux fort which the enemy had abandoned, the French were
practically on their line of February 25th.

On December 12th, General Nivelle took over supreme command. General
Guillaumat took his place in command of the Verdun army.

=The French offensive of December 15th, 1916.=

To completely clear Verdun to the east of the Meuse and give greater
freedom to the reconquered forts of Vaux and Douaumont, General
Mangin organised a new attack. A great amount of preparatory work
was done by the army of Verdun, who constructed about eighteen miles
of road including one of logs laid transversely for the artillery,
besides more than 6 miles of narrow-gauge railway, together with
out-going and incoming trenches, and depots for munitions, bombs and
material generally. As soon as these very considerable preparations,
often carried out under heavy enemy shell-fire, were finished, the
attacking troops took up their positions; the 126th Infantry Division
(Muteau), 38th Infantry Division (Guyot de Salins), 37th Infantry
Division (Garnier-Duplessis) and 133rd Infantry Division (Passaga),
with the 123rd, 128th, 21st and 6th Infantry Divisions as reserves.
Two lines of artillery prepared and supported the attack. The
six-mile German front from Vacherauville to Bezonvaux was held by 5
divisions in the first line with 4 divisions in reserve.

At 10 a.m., =on December 15th=, when Germany was proposing that
France should sue for peace, the attacking waves were launched,
protected by a moving curtain of artillery fire. Several of the
objectives, including Vacherauville, the first and second lines
before Louvemont, were reached in a few minutes at a single bound.
The woods and ravines before Douaumont took longer to capture, while
Vauche wood was carried at the point of the bayonet. Les Chambrettes
and Bezonvaux were taken on the following days. The success was
considerable, more than 11,000 prisoners, including 300 officers, 115
guns, several hundred machine-guns and important depots of munitions
and material, being captured. The enemy who, in July, had been
within a few hundred yards of Souville Fort, was now more than three
miles away. In June, the _Frankfort Gazette_, celebrating the German
successes at Verdun, declared: "We have clinched our victory and none
can take it from us", but on December 18th they had lost all the
ground it had taken five months and enormous sacrifices to conquer.

In congratulating the troops General Mangin reminded them that
Germany had just invited France to sue for peace, adding that they
had been "the true ambassadors of the Republic".

[Illustration: GENERAL NIVELLE.]

[Illustration: GENERAL MANGIN.]

DECEMBER 15TH 1916.]


[Illustration: IN THE GREAT QUARRIES (_500 yards west of Vaux fort_).

_Troops in reserve waiting for the time to move off._]

[Illustration: CHAUFFOUR WOOD (_1,500 yards north-west of


=The French offensive of August 20th 1917.=

For several months Verdun again became almost quiet, the battle area
shifting to the Chemin des Dames, Flanders and the Isonzo. General
Pétain decided to shatter the enemy on the Verdun front.

The victory of Louvemont-Bezonvaux, while completely clearing
Douaumont, had left the observation posts on Talou Hill in the
hands of the enemy, who still held, on the left bank, the excellent
positions of Hill 304 and Mort-Homme.

These they had had plenty of time to fortify, and the troops were
housed in deep tunnels and properly connected up positions. The enemy
had noticed the French preparations for this new offensive and had
accordingly considerably strengthened their artillery (to nearly 400
batteries) and their fighting effectives (to nine divisions on the
Avocourt-Woëvre line, with five in reserve).

On the French side, the ground had been for several months prepared
for the battle. Across the battlefield which had been shockingly cut
up by fire, roads had been prepared, liaison strengthened and the
question of supplies studied for a long while. Artillery preparations
included 2,500 guns of all kinds.

In this battle, artillery was to play the most important part. An
army corps of 20,000 infantrymen was to be supported by 40,000
artillerymen. Four corps, 13th (Linder), 16th (Corvisart), 15th (de
Fontclare), 32nd (Passaga) comprising 8 divisions in the line and 2
in reserve, took part in this offensive.

The artillery bombardment started on August 13th and systematically
flattened out the German positions. On August 20th, at dawn, under
the eyes of the officers of the new American Army who from various
observation posts followed the course of the battle, 8 divisions
attacked. Mort-Homme, Oie Hill and Talou Hill were captured, Hill 304
alone remaining in enemy hands. There was a stream of prisoners and
munitions, in the tunnels of Mort-Homme over 1,000 men being unable
to escape. On the following day Samogneux and Regnéville fell, and a
systematic attack led to the capture of Hill 304 on August 24th.

The booty from August 20th to 26th comprised 9,500 prisoners, 39
guns, 100 trench mortars and 242 machine guns.

On the left bank, the French line was advanced as far as the Forges

On the right bank, the enemy unsuccessfully endeavoured, by strong
counter-attacks, over a period of nearly two months, to recapture the
lost ground.

Verdun was completely cleared and the first French lines were
advanced to approximately 7 miles to the north.

Thus in 3 battles, October 24th, December 15th, August 20-21st, the
Germans were driven out of all the positions which they had held
since the third day of the battle. There was left in their hands
only what had formed, in February 1916, the advance line of the
French defence, where, during the first two days of the battle, the
covering divisions had been sacrificed.





The Battle of Verdun was not merely one of the hardest of the War's
many battles, it was also one of the most serious checks received
by the Germans. The enemy High Command had foreseen neither its
amplitude nor its long duration. Whereas, "according to plan",
Verdun--"Heart of France"--was speedily to be overpowered by a
carefully prepared mass attack, the Germans found themselves involved
in a formidable struggle, without being able either to obtain a
decisive advantage or keep the relatively small advantages obtained
at the beginning of the battle.

The battle did not develop "according to plan", its successive phases
being determined by circumstances. The huge reinforcements which
the Germans were compelled to call upon bring out very clearly the
immensity of the enemy effort.

From February 21st 1916 to February 1st 1917 the Germans made use
of fifty-six and a half divisions, i.e. 567 battalions, in front
of Verdun. Of these fifty-six and a half divisions, six divisions
appeared successively on both banks of the Meuse, eight others being
also engaged twice and six three times. In reality, in the course
of eleven months, eighty-two and a half German divisions (nearly
1,800,000 men), took part in the attacks on Verdun, which they had
expected to crush in a few days with ten to twelve divisions. The
contrast between this formidable effort and the meagre results
obtained is striking, and is a splendid testimony to the courage and
tenacity of the defenders.

This battle, by using up the best troops the Germans could put into
the field, had serious strategic results for the enemy.

Hindenburg in his Memoirs states "This battle exhausted our forces
like a wound that never heals."

"At Verdun France learnt to know herself", writes L. Gillet in his
wonderful book _The Battle of Verdun_.

"The Marne was not enough to show France what she really was. A day
of inspiration, a few hours of frenzy, a burst of enthusiasm, a
sudden glow of rage and passion with _Marseillaises_ sounding on all
sides, the world knew us to be capable of flashes like these. But the
world did not know--nor did we ourselves--our own sterling virtue.

"We were the country of improvisation, the country of laughing
nonchalance, varied with attacks of fever: we had forgotten our
strength of continuity. Thanks to the length of the battle, France
was able to measure her reserves of endurance. In this continuous
struggle which brought, one after another, men of every village to
the same tragic scene, each was inspired with the determination to do
at least as well as those who had preceded him. Then, when their turn
had come to be relieved, after unheard of ordeals, they read again
and again, in the communiqué's, the names of the same hills and awful
woods where they had held the line, and learnt that others in their
turn kept holding on....

"Instead of a succession of isolated deeds of valour, Verdun was for
the whole French Army an heroic exploit in which all shared alike.
France bled soldiers from all her wounds. At Verdun she was inspired
with something solemn, sacred and unanimous, like the spirit of a
religious crusade."

As President Poincaré declared on September 13th 1916, when he handed
to the Mayor of Verdun the decorations conferred upon the town by the
Allied Nations, it was before the walls of Verdun that "the highest
hopes of Imperial Germany were crushed". At Verdun, Germany had
sought to achieve an overwhelming spectacular success, and it was
there that France had replied quietly but firmly "They shall never

"For centuries to come, in all parts of the world the name of Verdun
would continue to ring like a cry of victory and a sound of joy
uttered by a people delivered from tyranny."



During the winter 1917-1918 the Verdun-Argonne front remained quiet,
but the year 1918 opened with ill omens.

Russia gave in and Rumania, left to struggle alone, was forced to

The Germans reckoned in 1918 to make an end of the Allies. They
attacked successively in Picardy, on the Chemin des Dames, in front
of Compiègne in Champagne. But whenever these attacks succeeded in
driving small salients in the line, the front was at once reunited
and the enemy fell short of victory. =On July 18th=, a decisive move
was reached when the Allies in their turn took the initiative.



After the counter-attack of July, which drove the Germans from the
Marne to the Vesle, the battle shifted to the flanks. Offensive
followed offensive with unfailing regularity, first on the left
(the Franco-British offensive of August 8th), then in Artois (the
offensive of August 20th) and lastly against the whole of the
Hindenburg line which the Allies attacked on September 1st.



_Franco-American offensive (September 1918)._]

The Germans were already greatly shaken but Marshal Foch gave them
no respite, and to prevent their recovery he redoubled his attacks.


_Franco-American offensive (September-October 1918)._]

Three simultaneous offensives were envisaged, on the left wing, in
Flanders, the combined Belgian, French and British Armies under King
Albert; in the centre the 3rd and 4th British Armies and the 1st
French Army; on the right wing, in Champagne and in Argonne, the 4th
French Army (Gouraud) and the 1st American Army (Pershing).

=The Franco-American offensive of September 26th, 1918.=

As a prelude to taking its place in the line for the great offensive,
the American Army had already fought the brilliant action of
September 12th-14th which reduced the Saint-Mihiel salient.

=On September 26th=, at the same time as the 4th French Army (General
Gouraud) attacked the enemy in Champagne, the American Army under the
command of General Pershing, took the offensive between the Argonne
and the Meuse.

The artillery preparation was terrific but of short duration, lasting
only three hours.

At 5.30 a.m. the Americans furiously assaulted the strong German
positions on the left bank of the Meuse and captured the whole line
from Avocourt to Forges right away. The artillery, keeping in close
support, cleared the stream of Forges during the morning.

The woods which were strongly held were also cleared and by midday
the Americans reached the south of Montfaucon.

During the afternoon a stubborn encounter took place on the
positions covering Montfaucon, a formidable peak and the most
valuable enemy observation post in the neighbourhood of Verdun.

The Americans wisely outflanked the peak on the right and advanced to
Septsarges, so that by nightfall Montfaucon was encircled.

=On the 27th and 28th=, the advance was slower and continued westerly
in spite of enemy counter-attacks; Montfaucon was captured.

The American spoils included 8,000 prisoners and 100 guns.

=On October 4th=, Pershing launched an attack on his whole army
front. But the enemy stiffened their resistance by bringing up
numerous reinforcements. On the right bank of the Meuse, the 17th
French Army Corps (Claudel) and two American Divisions were then
brought into the fray, reaching and quickly passing the famous line
from which the Crown Prince, in February 1916, had launched his
attack upon Verdun.

=On October 14th= a general attack was launched.

The Germans resisted desperately but could not regain any advantage.
Their resources were diminishing and battalions were withdrawn to be
hastily reorganised in rear and then put in the line again at once.

Round Grandpré a furious fight raged.

By the end of October the Germans had lost, on the two banks of the
Meuse, since September 26th, 20,000 prisoners, 150 guns, 1,000 trench
mortars, and 6,000 machine guns.

=November 1st-11th 1918.=

In the North, the Belgians had just cleared their coast-line, and
were menacing the enemy by an advance into the very heart of Belgium.
The British had occupied Lille and broken down the defences of the
Hindenburg Line. Meanwhile, the French, relentlessly driving back
the retreating enemy, had entered Laon, after forcing the formidable
bastion of the Saint-Gobain Forest.

=On November 1st=, a new offensive was opened up by Gouraud's Army
and the 1st American Army, resulting in a gain of several kilometres.
The enemy fell back on the great Sedan-Metz highway, the approaches
to which they wanted to defend at all cost.

=On November 4th=, the 3rd American Corps reached the Meuse between
Mouzon and Stenay.

The Germans withdrew on the right bank.

=On the 8th=, the French entered Sedan and, on the 9th, Mézières.

On the 10th, the enemy was driven back on the extreme right, to the
foot of the Meuse Heights and South of Stenay by the 17th French Army

=On November 11th=, with the threat of a fresh offensive in Lorraine,
the Germans surrendered in open country to save themselves from
complete destruction.


_A French photograph used in the preparation of the American
offensive on the banks of the Meuse in September 1918._

_The barbed-wire entanglements and trenches are plainly indicated._]


Nine days before the German capitulation in open country on November
11th 1918.

[Illustration: _This sketch represents a set of maps scale 1/200,000
on which the Staff-major of the 20th Corps used to trace the line
each day._

_By strengthening the two lines of July 15th and November 2nd, which
are accurately reproduced, and by adding a few lines inside and the
point of the helmet, a draughtsman of the Staff-major obtained this
curious figure of Germany brought to her knees._

_From the plan one can easily recognise the salients of Ypres and
Arras, the indentation of Montdidier, and that of Château-Thierry
intersecting the Vesle, the salients of Reims and Verdun and the
break through at Saint-Mihiel._]

[Illustration: Map of Verdun (TN).]



_The motorist coming either from Sainte-Menehould or Bar-le-Duc, via
the "Sacred Way" enters Verdun by the Porte de France, and reaches
the cathedral by the Rues: Saint-Maur, Chevert, and la Belle-Vierge._

_The tourist coming from the station by the Porte Saint-Paul,
reaches the Cathedral by the Rues: Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre and la

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL.]

=The Cathedral.=

The tourist, arriving at the Place de la Cathédrale, via the Rue de
la Belle-Vierge, finds himself in front of the North Façade (_photo

In the middle is the entrance porch; on the right, the Western
transept and the towers enclosing the remarkable, square-shaped old
Choir, on the left, the Eastern transept and the polygonal apse of
the Great Choir with the Roman basement and Gothic buttresses (_photo
p. 52_).

In front of the towers and on the right, _in the photograph
opposite_, is the entrance to Margueritte College leading to the
Bishop's Palace and the Cloister.


_In the foreground: Roof of nave, transept and great choir of the
Cathedral. In the middle-ground, The Meuse: on the left, the Porte
Chaussée in the middle: Military Club. In the background: Line of
trees marking the ramparts; behind Belleville Village (on the left)
and the Faubourg Pavé. On the horizon: Belleville Hills._]


_which can be seen from the banks of the Meuse._]

[Illustration: THE CANOPY (CIBORIUM) _and the altar of the Great


On entering the Cathedral by the central porch of the north façade,
the old choir is on the right and on the left the great choir.

The old square choir is intersected by the great organ.

In the great choir, notice the elegant panelling of Rococo-style and
the ciborium with canopy supported by twisted columns of grey marble.

The numerous side-chapels are 14th, 15th and 16th century.

The most interesting is in the South Aisle, that of the Blessed
Sacrament, Radial-Gothic in style (_photo above_).

The door of Margueritte College (_see photo page 51_) leads to the
courtyard of the BISHOP'S PALACE (18th century) and thence to the
CLOISTER (historical monument of the 13th and 14th centuries, _photos
p. 54._)

_From the Bishop's palace, go along the Rue Chatel to the Place
Chatel, then down the Rue des Hauts-Fins, and cross the Esplanade_
=to the Citadelle.=

[Illustration: THE NAVE OF THE GREAT CHOIR IN 1918.

_In the background, the old choir and the organ platform._]


_In the background: the East Gallery.--On the right: the ruins of the
South Gallery.--In the town can be seen the church of Saint-Sauveur
against the green background of the fortifications._]


_See above (on the right) its state after the War._]


=The Citadelle.=

The Citadelle occupies the site of the ancient abbeys or churches of
Sainte-Vanne, erected in the Merovingian period and the 15th century.

The first Citadelle was completed under Henry IV. The second was the
work of Vauban. The church of Sainte-Vanne which had survived was
pulled down in 1831. During the war, the deep underground caves were
a safe place of refuge for the inhabitants before their departure and
for relief troops during the battle.

_On leaving the Citadelle, turn right and go down the slope towards
the Meuse and the Rue de Rû, keeping to the right. Go by the stores
and then the octroi where the shops are located, and enter the
Citadelle by No. 4 listening-post, to visit some of the caverns
fitted up as they were in the war._

_Here can be seen in particular, under a military guide, the chamber
of honour where were laid to rest in November 1920 the bodies of 8
unknown soldiers, from among whom was taken the Unknown Warrior who
rests in Paris beneath the Arc de Triomphe._


(Photo Sommer.)]


[Illustration: VERDUN THEATRE IN JUNE 1916.]

_Return from the Citadelle by the Rue de Rû, passing the theatre.
Continue along the Rue Mazel to the site of the monument "Aux morts
de Verdun" (see next page), return to the Place Mazel, turn right,
cross the Meuse, and the Place Chevert is reached._



_Site of the War Memorial shown below._ (Photo Sommer.)]


_A crypt will be opened in the base of the monument where will be
laid to rest the 7 Unknown Soldiers, a touching symbol of the
sacrifice of the soldiers of Verdun (April 1925)._]

[Illustration: THE PORTE CHAUSSÉE (_before the war_).]

_From the Place Chevert, follow the Meuse to the right to the Porte

=The Porte Chaussée=

Its architecture is reminiscent of the Bastille. Half of the left
tower, on the river, was rebuilt in 1690 on exactly the same lines
and with stones of the old tower: the semi-circular arcade and the
pediment facing the bridge are of the same date.



[Illustration: Sketch routes of the Battlefields of Verdun and

Four hundred thousand Frenchmen died for their Country on the
battlefields of Verdun.

It is with feelings of deep respect that tourists visit the sacred
ground and thus pay tribute to the heroes who there laid down their

Four routes starting from Verdun lead to the most famous battle areas.

_1st Route._ The right bank of the Meuse and the forts of Tavannes,
Vaux, Souville and Douaumont.

_2nd Route._ The left bank of the Meuse, Cumières, Mort-Homme, Hill
304 and the "Sacred Way".

_3rd Route._ Calonne Trenches, Éparges Ridge and the Woëvre plain.

The battlefields of the Argonne adjoin on the West those of Verdun.
We pick up at Esnes the route that leads to this region (2nd route

_4th Route_. Montfaucon, Romagne, Vauquois mound, Varennes, the
forest of Argonne, Haute Chevauchée and the valley of the Biesme.

This volume ends with the _visit to Metz_, the Cathedral and the
Place d'Armes, the Esplanade, and the new and old quarters.

_1st Route_


_Leave Verdun by the_ =porte Chaussée,= _cross the Meuse, and the
fortified enclosure and turn left along the Rue d'Étain (N. 18)._

This takes one up the =Faubourg Pavé= used by relief troops holding
the Vaux and Douaumont sectors.

The bombardment of this suburb was incessant until after Verdun was
completely cleared in December 1916.

On the left, the tricolor floats over a military cemetery containing
over 6,000 graves. This is the Faubourg Pavé cemetery.


[Illustration: THE FAUBOURG PAVÉ MILITARY CEMETERY.--_On the horizon
the Hills of Belleville._]

On the crest of the hills, on the left, are the forts of Belleville,
Saint-Michel and the Marceau barracks which were utterly destroyed.
Here started the rear of the battlefield. Behind this crest the
field kitchens of the units in the line were concealed. Every night,
the fatigue parties, known as "cuistots", facing a thousand dangers
started from here to take up food to the men in the line.

_Follow the Route Nationale for about 6 km.; beyond the Cabaret Rouge
Inn on the right, and the Valteline ravine on the left, the road
ascends. Go past the cross-road at Bellevue farm and then turn left
by the road leading to_ =Tavannes fort.=

_The road runs downhill and then rises across the shattered Hospices

_Take the metalled road on the right leading to_ =Tavannes fort.=



=Tavannes Fort.=

Built of stone about 1880 it was never concreted, like Vaux and
Douaumont forts. Tavannes fort dominates the ground behind the
Vaux-Souville line and the Étain-Verdun road. The Germans, in their
effort to reach Souville, sought by frequent bombardments to destroy
the fort which resisted stubbornly, but on May 7th a 17-inch shell
destroyed one of the arches and caused serious damage. Looking
westwards, the horizon is bounded by the long straight line of
plateaux. There are three elevations on this line, three points which
mark the tragic battlefield of Verdun; on the left the Saint-Michel
fort which immediately dominates the basin of Verdun; in the centre
nearer still, Souville fort; and finally, further away, on the right,

_Return to the road by which the fort was reached and turn into it on
the right, following it for about 300 metres until you come to the

At this fork the road passes above =Tavannes tunnel=. By following to
the left the line of telegraph poles the West entrance is reached.

Although the entrances were constantly shelled by enemy artillery,
this tunnel was used as a shelter for the reserves of the
Vaux-Souville sector and as a munitions depot. Bunks were fitted up
in three superimposed rows, 300 to 450 feet in length, and separated
by spaces, where those who could not find bunks slept as they could
on the ground. Despite the ventilating shafts in this tunnel 1,500
metres long, the air remained foul owing to the stenches of all
kinds. On the night of September 4th-5th a grenade depot blew up,
causing many victims.

JUNE 1916.]

(Photo Martin Collardelle, Verdun.)]

[Illustration: IN THE TAVANNES RAVINE IN JUNE 1916.--_A shell has
just smashed in a dug-out._]

_At the fork, take the road on the right to Vaux Fort. At a sharp
bend on this road, the Tavannes ravine, where the railway from Verdun
to Metz runs, dips down to the plain of the Woëvre._

The road rises to a plateau formerly wooded but now only a kind of
brownish moorland, dotted with tree stumps. On the left can be seen
what remains of Vaux-Chapitre Wood and, on the right, the remnants of
Laufée and Chênois woods.

By crossing Horgne ravine an open plateau is reached, at the end
of which is silhouetted a kind of rock, rugged and uneven "like
sandbanks thrown up by a mighty sea over the ages". This rock is Vaux



=Vaux Fort.=

Built of masonry about 1880 and afterwards reconstructed in
reinforced concrete, the fort was only completed in 1911. Smaller and
less powerful than Douaumont fort, it dominates the plateau to the
south of Vaux ravine and the reverse side of Douaumont plateau. Hence
its importance.

To follow the battles which were unfolded round Vaux fort, let
us climb on to the superstructure of the fort. From there a huge
panorama lies before our eyes.

To the north is seen a deep ravine, Bazil ravine, at the bottom of
which glistens Vaux pool. Vaux village, situated more to the right,
has totally disappeared, Meusien station has been rebuilt there, its
red-tiled roof shewing vividly against the dark mass of Hardaumont

On the left, the ground rises towards a crest, forming the slopes
of Fausse-Côte and Caillette woods. The projection on the crest is
Douaumont fort.

On the right, the Woëvre plain extends to the horizon: in clear
weather the blue line of the Moselle Heights is visible. The plain
is overlooked by hills, on the nearest of which was the site of the
Damloup battery. At the foot are the ruins of Damloup village where
the Horgne ravine starts.


_The moat has been filled up by the bombardment._]

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

=The battle round Vaux. Attacks of March and April 1916.=

During the early days of March 1916, the Germans reached the crest on
the horizon, to the north of Vaux fort, from Douaumont to Hardaumont

To storm the entrance to Bazil ravine by capturing the village and
Vaux pool, then to outflank the fort by the ravine at the same time
as they delivered a frontal attack, such was the manoeuvre which the
enemy intended to attempt in March and April.

On March 1st, in front of Vaux village and fort, the French front was
held by the 303rd Brigade (Naulin), 408th and 409th Regiments, which
were going to be reinforced by the arrival of the 1st, 3rd and 31st
Battalions of chasseurs and parts of the 38th, 86th, 158th, 149th
infantry Regiments and the 71st territorial Regiment.

From March 6th to 11th the enemy, regardless of sacrifices, attacked
madly in mass.

They reached the western edge of the village but were driven back at
the point of the bayonet. Barricades blocked the main street of the
village which was defended at all costs.

The enemy were so eager that they made a direct attack on the fort.
The attacking waves climbed the brow. The slopes, which are very
steep to start with, concealed them and gave them protection, but as
soon as they reached the more gradual slopes leading to the fort,
they were mown to the ground and fled back in disorder, leaving more
than 200 corpses in front of the barbed wire.

The attack of March 9th was made with such confidence in their
victory that the German commander announced in his communiqué: "Vaux
village and fort, after a strong artillery preparation, were captured
in a brilliant night attack by the 6th and 19th Posen Regiments".

On the next day, to justify this lying message, a new attack was
ordered, which failed in spite of a deluge of fire rained upon the
shell of the fort.

Colonel Naulin, commanding the 303rd Brigade, wrote in his report:
"This period is particularly trying, especially from March 9th
onwards. The iron rations have been eaten up: food supplies no longer
reach us and we are out of water: on the 10th and 11th the garrison
is reduced to drinking melted snow. In spite of everything, the
morale has never been better. The men realise that the sacrifices
cheerfully made have not been in vain and that behind them, Vaux
fort though battered beyond recognition is still ours...."


_On the left, Bazil ravine and the tip of Vaux pool._

_In the centre, the village ranging along the northern slopes of hill
containing Vaux fort._]


_In the background, the hill where Vaux fort is situated._]

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

Losses were however, heavy on both sides, the 303rd Brigade when
relieved having lost 2,500 men and 65 officers.

On the 31st, fighting broke out afresh. In the village of Vaux, the
attackers surrounded the garrison which made its escape and clung to
the Western outskirts.


_A signaler reaches the fort._]

On April 2nd, a fresh enemy division swarmed down the southern
slopes of Caillette wood and reached Bazil ravine. It was a serious
moment. Douaumont was outflanked to the South, and Vaux to the West.

The 3rd Corps (Nivelle) was rushed to the relief, the 5th Division
(Mangin) at the head; Mangin had only the 74th Regiment available at
the moment. There was no time to lose. Mangin reached Souville where
he turned and said to the colonel of the 74th who accompanied him:
"My friend, no half-measures here but get to close quarters with the
Boches and get after them with bombs".

The 74th and then the whole 9th Brigade crossed Bazil ravine, which
was filled with gas, cleared Caillette wood with bombs and at the
point of the bayonet, and held fast to the recaptured line, repelling
all counter-attack.

On April 9th and 10th the enemy again attacked unsuccessfully in
front of the fort but captured Vaux village.

=The June attacks.=

At the beginning of June the enemy planned to make violent attacks
upon Vaux fort.

Occupying the village, they held the head of Bazil ravine. Their plan
was to outflank the fort simultaneously on the West by Fumin ravine
and wood and on the South-East by Horgne ravine.

On June 1st, in front of Damloup, their attack failed, but in the
centre the bombardment overwhelmed and almost buried the 6th French
Division which barred the Bazil ravine.

Deploying from the ravine the enemy advanced through Fumin wood.

On June 2nd, after the fall of Damloup, the enemy progressed
through Horgne ravine. The fort, pounded by a storm of 210, 380,
and 420 shells was threatened simultaneously from 3 sides, and
closely besieged. Survivors from the trenches at hand took refuge
in the fort. In the redoubt to the west of the fort a handful of
foot-soldiers of the 101st died fighting to the last man.

[Illustration: THE SOUTH MOAT OF VAUX FORT IN MAY 1916.]

The Germans reorganised on the flanks of the hill and repulsed all


_On the horizon, Douaumont fort._ (Photo Martin Collardelle.)]

=The capture of the Fort (June 3rd-8th).=

On June 3rd, at dawn, a wave of German pioneers crept through the
fog and smoke, eluding the look-out men at the fort, captured the
Casemates on the North Moat (_Photo above_), then got down into the
half-filled moat, and crept stealthily along the funnels on to the
superstructure of the fort, where they put their machine guns in

Since March, the fort and its surroundings had received no less than
8,000 heavy shells every day. The Commandant Raynal, who was O. C.
of the fort, was imprisoned underground with his men. The garrison,
regularly composed of the 6th company, a company of machine guns of
the 142nd and about 40 artillery men and sappers was augmented by
two companies of the 142nd, a company of the 101st and a company of
machine guns of the 53rd who had taken refuge there.

To economise food and water, the surplus contingents were ordered by
Commandant Raynal to leave the fort. On the night of the 4th-5th, a
first detachment of the 142nd made its escape under the direction of
Lieutenant Buffet, who returned next evening to the fort bringing
orders. On the night of the 5th a hundred more men managed to get
away. Carrier pigeons and optical signals soon furnished the only
means of communication.

On the afternoon of the 4th, the last pigeon was released. On the
morning of the 5th, thanks to two signalmen who volunteered to change
a signal post which the Commandant had difficulty in observing,
communications were maintained.

On the evening of the 5th, Commandant Raynal sent his last message
that could be read in its entirety, and which ended: "We have reached
the limit, officers and soldiers have done their duty. Long live
France". Nevertheless, the fort continued to hold out and refused to

On the night of the 6th, 7th, reinforcements tried to relieve it and
reached the moat, but after losing nearly all their officers they
were compelled to fall back.


_View of the north casemate demolished by the bombardment._]

The Germans who had gained a footing in the ruins of the
superstructure, were only able to drive the French out of the
casemates by lowering baskets of grenades with time fuses and by
spurting liquid fire and asphyxiating gas.

Driven back in the underground passages, the defenders continued
the fight with grenades and bayonets. The sand bags which were used
to barricade the passages were thrown into the air by the rending
explosions. Attackers ran at every turn against machine guns or

"Captain Tabourot, who was defending the north-east gate, lies
writhing in agony, wounded in the stomach and with broken legs. The
aid post is a hell where hundreds of wounded lie parched with thirst
in the stinking darkness of paraffin lamps. Water is unobtainable.
The stench increases, in the atmosphere of smoke and gas it is
impossible to breathe. On the 7th, at 3.50 a.m. the fort signals
again, and these are the only words that are read "... at the bitter
end.... Vive la France!" (L. GILLET).

The 2nd regiment of Zouaves and the Colonial regiment of Morocco made
a last effort on the morning of the 8th to relieve the garrison. They
reached the approaches of the fort, from which clouds of thick black
smoke, caused by a violent explosion in one of the casemates, were
pouring. Exposed to the fire of the enemy machine-guns installed in
the superstructure of the fort and attacked by constantly increasing
reinforcements, they were unable to hold their ground.

On the 8th, at 4 p.m. when the German communiqué announced the
capture of the fort, the heroic defenders were at last overpowered,
the unwounded among them not having tasted a drop of water for two

By winning the admiration of the enemy, the Commandant Raynal was
allowed to keep his sword in captivity and his heroic men were
accorded special treatment.

Five months later, on November 2nd, after the victory of Douaumont,
the Germans hurriedly evacuated the fort.

_Under the escort of one of the garrison the interior of the fort
may be viewed._


Notice in the passages the marks made by bursting bombs. The dummy
barricades with loop holes which obstruct the passages were built by
the French in 1917, after the recapture of the fort, they replace the
walls of sandbags which Commandant Raynal's heroic garrison had put

_On leaving Vaux fort, return along the same road to the fork of
Tavannes tunnel._

A hundred metres beyond the first bend on this road, the furthest
line reached by the Germans in September 1916 is crossed: this
line then runs down to the left to Woëvre, passing between Damloup
battery, captured on July 11th 1916, and Laufée redoubt.



_The whole field of battle is entirely pounded up. A few rudimentary
trenches can only be discerned with difficulty here and there._

_The woods which used to cover the plateau of Vaux fort and the
slopes of Horgne ravine have disappeared.--The much worn surface
looks like a sponge._]


a. Froideterre Hill.--b. Thiaumont Redoubt.--c. Douaumont
Mortuary.--d. Douaumont Fort.--e. Hardaumont Crest.--f. Vaux Fort.]

=The panorama from Souville fort.=

_At the fork at Tavannes tunnel, turn right towards_ =Souville fort=
_seen immediately in front._

On the right, the ruins of Tunnel and Hôpital batteries; on the
left, the ravine of Hôpital wood, with trees denuded of branches.
This ravine was crammed with artillery batteries which were daily
subjected to fire and deluged with poison gas.

The road turns to the right, at the foot of the escarpments of
Souville fort, the shapeless mass of which dominates the ridge.
After passing the ridge, the vast panorama of the Souville-Douaumont
battlefield unfolds itself. This was "the supreme arena, captured
and recaptured, the holy of holies of this sacred ground" where the
soil has been ploughed and blistered with thousands of furrows like
as it were to a cataclysm unprecedented in nature. No one can regard
unaffectedly this battlefield, unique in the world, the furnace where
for ten months millions of men fought face to face and nearly 700,000
laid down their lives.

To understand properly the battle which look place before Souville
in June and July 1916, let us examine from left to right the vast
panorama reproduced above.

On the left the horizon is bounded by the long Froideterre hill.
(It was on this crest that the mortuary of Douaumont was afterwards
built). On this straight line stand out conspicuously Froideterre
and Thiaumont redoubts, then the ridge rises appreciably towards
Douaumont fort which crowns the highest point, 388 metres.

Between Thiaumont and Douaumont a tricolor floats above the temporary
mortuary of Douaumont. Lower the cemetery of Fleury is conspicuous
by a big white patch, and the site of the village is a little more
to the left on the reverse of a slight slope encircled, from East
to West, by the ravines of Poudrière and Vignes. Nearer, at the
cross-roads, is the site of Chapelle-Sainte-Fine; the road which
branches off to the right plunges into Fontaines ravine and leads to

To the right of Douaumont, the ridge drops slowly towards Hardaumont
hill, separated from Vaux Fort hill by Bazil ravine.

Between Souville and Vaux stretch the old woods of Vaux-Chapitre,
Fumin and Chênois.

=The battle in front of Souville (June 1916).=

Thiaumont redoubt, Froideterre hill, Fleury and Souville fort formed
the last powerful barrier which the enemy, in June 1916, wanted to
break through in order to get an uninterrupted view of the basin of

With Souville captured, the enemy dominated the town at a distance
of hardly two miles, while the defenders in acute danger were driven
back upon the last zone Belleville, Saint-Michel, with the Meuse
immediately behind.

Time was getting on and the enemy felt themselves menaced on the
Somme and the eastern front. This is the time for success the Kaiser
announced. A German officer, taken prisoner before the attack, was
reported to have said "The capture of Verdun was anticipated in four
days". A curious map distributed to each one of the attackers and
later found on the prisoners showed the various stages to Verdun and
with false figures of distances the road from Verdun to Paris.

From Froideterre to Vaux fort the French line was held by the 11th
and 6th Corps (Mangin and Paulinie).

From the 21st, an unprecedented bombardment was directed upon the
zone Froideterre-Fleury-Souville-Tavannes. The ridges were set on
fire, smoking like volcanoes and black and yellow smoke clouds rose
from all the ravines. It was a continuous bombardment, marked every
now and then by the terrific bursts of enormous shells of 380 and 420
calibre which deluged down upon Froideterre, Souville and Tavannes.

On the evening of the 22nd, the enemy, to complete his task of
annihilation, poured down upon the plateau of Souville, the ravines,
the battery emplacements, and the tracks nearly 200,000 gas shells.
The atmosphere became unbearable to the point of suffocation. The
enemy expected to meet with no further resistance, so certain were
they of having annihilated artillery, food and supply convoys, and

Nevertheless, reinforcements proceeded up to the "furnace", under the
protection of gas masks, stooping under the weight of their packs,
stumbling in shell-holes, while shells were falling about them on all

"All night long, the troops climbed this Calvary. In the morning,
tired out, they would withstand the shock of the attacking infantry."

At daybreak on the 23rd, the bombardment reached an intensive fury.

"Masked, blinded, half-suffocated and half-buried in the earth
thrown up by the incessant shell-fire, the troops in the line of the
Garbit, Toulorge Giraudun Divisions knew perfectly that, when the
tornado lifts, that moment would be the signal for the attack. They
waited (and what a waiting that was!) on ground churned up by fire,
listening to the pitiful cries of the wounded, and with the dead to
keep them company. They waited, controlling their nerves, all on edge
but strung towards one object, one idea, never to give ground but to
fight and hold on. The sentries wiped with their benumbed fingers the
glasses of their periscopes, and peered into the smoking horizon. The
barrage lifts, the enemy are leaving their trenches, Ah! here they
come!" (H. BORDEAUX: _La Bataille devant Souville_).

[Illustration: THE BATTLE IN FRONT OF SOUVILLE (_June 23rd and July
12th 1916_).]

It was 7 a.m. when across the hills and by all the ravines converging
on the plateau, Couleuvre and Dame ravines which lead to Froideterre,
Caillette and Bazil ravines which lead to Fleury, Fontaines ravine
which extends from Vaux towards Souville, the thin columns wended
their way, 80,000 "feldgrau": Bavarians, chasseurs of the Alpine
Corps, troops inured to hardship, advanced on the 5 kilometre front.

In the first line, the storm battalions marched in mass formation,
preceded by an extended line of bombers who held the handle of their
bombs and leapt from hole to hole. In the rear, supporting troops
assembled in the ravines. The French batteries kept up an incessant
barrage, harrying these ravines which became charnel-houses of blood,
poisoned with gas fumes.

On Froideterre hill, Thiaumont redoubt was forced to capitulate with
its garrison. Attacked from front and flank, the chasseurs of the
121st Battalion struggled, outnumbered ten to one, and hand-to-hand
fighting took place along the whole front of the battalion which
was encircled, only sixty chasseurs being able to escape with
their lives from the encounter. Through this breach in the line 4
Bavarian companies burst through as far as Froideterre redoubt. But
the obstinate defence of Thiaumont enabled the 114th Battalion of
chasseurs to come up, who then deployed, "as though on parade" and by
a dashing display with bayonet and grenade harassed and overwhelmed
the Bavarians who, for a moment, had got possession of Froideterre

In the centre, Fleury village was outflanked. A battalion of the
Alpine corps who had succeeded in crossing Bazil ravine before the
lifting of the French barrage, hurled themselves against Fleury and
gained a footing in the western outskirts.

Before Souville, fortunately, the main German attack was broken by
the 307th Brigade (Colonel Bordeaux). The 407th Infantry Regiment
held the line on the wooded slopes of Vaux-Chapitre. The right
held on without giving way, but on the left contact was broken
through a gap being made: this enabled the Germans to fall upon the
defenders in rear. It was a critical moment, saved by the Colonel
of the 407th who had posted several machine gun batteries near his
headquarters, and was able to slow down the attacking waves. At the
same time he improvised a force of reserves, adding telephonists,
stretcher-bearers, pioneers, orderlies and cooks, and with these he
attacked the enemy who were surprised and fell back.


The Souville road was still barred. The fort, where so many heroic
artillery observers had been buried or blown to pieces by the
bombardment, continued to remain the ever-alert sentinel of the

[Illustration: THE HEAP OF SHELL CASES FIRED (45,000 IN 3 DAYS) BY 8

The flags of the attacking German regiments, which had been sent up
from the depots to the front to be unfurled in captured Verdun, were
sent back to the rear by higher orders.

[Illustration: IN SOUVILLE FORT (MARCH 23RD 1917).--_General

But the enemy had not yet finished his attempts to force the barrier.
They captured Thiaumont and Fleury, and on July 11th they intended
to try, by way of Poudrière and Vignes ravines, to outflank Souville
fort on the West while at the same time making a direct attack upon
the north slopes (_Plan p. 78_).

In front of Souville, the line was held by the 131st Infantry
Division (Duport) and in front of Vaux fort by the 79th (Mordrelle),
reinforced by the 128th Infantry Division (Riberpray).

In the Vaux sector the attack failed.

But on the left of the battle, the enemy passed Fleury and penetrated
into Poudrière and Vignes ravines. On the 12th, at daybreak, they
captured Chapelle Sainte-Fine, thereby threatening Souville fort. The
enemy quickened his pace and climbed the slopes of the fort, with
the French barrage playing right on them. Under this rain of fire
the attackers swerved and a final headlong rush carried 150 Germans
to the summit of the fort, "like the edges of foam from a packet
steamer which dissolves into spray". All were captured or killed in
an instant in the moats. The Germans could not take Souville.

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

_From the slopes of Souville, go down to the cross roads of_
=Chapelle Sainte-Fine,= _where the memorial (page 79) marks the limit
of the German advance before Verdun._

_From Chapelle Sainte-Fine, Vaux pool may be reached on the right by
following the famous Fontaines ravine, between the stumps and the
brushwood of Vaux-Chapitre wood and Fumin wood._

_Five hundred metres from the cross roads of Chapelle Sainte-Fine,
on the right_, is =Haie Renard=, the scene of one of those undying
exploits which contributed to the safety of Verdun. On August 1st
1916 the Germans had progressed as far as this crest which dominates
the head of Fontaines ravine.

[Illustration: FONTAINES RAVINE IN FEBRUARY 1917.--_A demolished
French battery._]

On August 5th, the enemy by a hustling attack on the 10th Regiment
and the left of the 56th, forced a new indentation in the line
whereby the position of the 4th Zouaves was threatened, more to the
west. The colonel realising the danger decided to counter-attack
in the neighbouring sector, but his whole reserve only numbered 24
zouaves, a pioneer section commanded by Lieutenant Charles.


The position was acute: on the other side of the ravine the Germans
were continually advancing. The Colonel sent his section into action.
The men fell to the bottom of the ravine which was beaten down by
150's, then crossed the road, and climbed up in the face of the
enemy's fire. Lieutenant Charles calmly reorganised the line. This
little band lay on the ground and fired full at the enemy.

[Illustration: VAUX POOL (MARCH 4TH 1917).]

Presently the order to charge with the bayonet was given: every man
got ready. The leader rose and with a cry of "Advance" the Zouaves
leapt forward. Disconcerted and wavering the Germans turned tail and
raised their arms: those who resisted were run through and forty
prisoners were sent back to the rear under charge of one man, for
by this time Lieutenant Charles had only 7 Zouaves left. With his
7 Zouaves, 2 men and one sergeant of the 56th Lieutenant Charles
held the recaptured line. In the middle of the night this handful of
heroes was relieved by an entire battalion.

[Illustration: VAUX POOL (MAY 1921).

_On the right, Bazil ravine; on the left, Fontaines ravine._]


_Continue towards_ =Vaux pool= _and stop a hundred metres from the

_Make your way to Vaux pool on foot between the crests of Hardaumont
and of Vaux fort._

[Illustration: WHERE VAUX VILLAGE WAS (APRIL 26TH 1917).]

_Make a half turn and come back by the same road as far as the
Chapelle Sainte-Fine cross roads. Then continue some 40 metres,
taking the turn on the right to_ =Douaumont.=


_In the foreground, on the crest, big calibre shells bursting. Then
just behind, Poudrière ravine. The first white blot in the middle
of the photograph is the Fleury sector. In the background, amid the
smoke of exploding shells, Froideterre Hill and Thiaumont._]

_About 500 metres from the cross-roads is the site, on the left, of_
=Fleury village.= A slight raising of the soil is the only sign that
is left that a village once existed. Captured on June 23rd, 1916,
Fleury village was not definitely freed until August 18th, after two
month's incessant fighting.

On June 26th, the 114th Battalion of chasseurs clung to the borders
south and west of the village. On July 15th, in an attack made by
the 3rd Zouaves, one battalion lost all its officers. On August 2nd,
the 56th and 10th Infantry Regiments captured the station to the
south of the village, with 350 prisoners and 11 machine guns. Next
day, some units of the 207th crossed the village but they ran short
of ammunition so that after a close combat somewhat ill-matched,
they had to withdraw to their original line. On August 4th, the
134th Infantry Regiment captured some buildings, as also did the 8th
Tirailleurs four days later.

On August 10th, at length, the colonial regiment of Morocco planned
a systematic capture of the village. From the 10th to the 16th, they
advanced to the sap and organised their starting points. On August
18th, supported by a battalion of the 8th Tirailleurs, the colonials
attacked singing the _Marseillaise_ and the _Anthem of the Marines_.
Two battalions encircled the village, but in the centre each
shell-hole and every hollow had become a miniature fort to be stormed
in the teeth of machine gun fire. Next day was a fight of knives
and bombs. At night a hundred surviving Germans gave themselves up.
After the capture of the village the enemy concentrated a terrific
artillery fire on it, and up to September they endeavoured to retake
the ruins.


_The Southern edges of Fleury, in July 1916._

_The Main Street of Fleury, in July 1916._

_A trench in the ruins of Fleury, in October 1916._]

[Illustration: THIAUMONT REDOUBT IN 1920. (Photo Martin Collardelle.)]

_One kilometre beyond the ruins of Fleury, the road divides; the left
fork leads straight to Bras, but take the right hand one as far as
the road to Douaumont fort, 300 metres to the right._

On the crest =Thiaumont redoubt= stands out prominently. To the
left of the redoubt is Froideterre Hill, which was, at the end of
June and July 1916, a palpitating centre of the battle. Thiaumont
is, in fact, at the junction of several ravines, where Douaumont
crest joins Froideterre and that of Thiaumont joins Souville. For
three months the rival artilleries poured their fire on this tragic
mound. The redoubt was almost pulverised and buried under these
terrific bombardments, changing hands 16 times in all. Recaptured by
the 128th, on June 30th, it was held by the 202nd Regiment when, on
July 4th, the 6th Regiment of Prussian Guards attacked it after a
tremendous bombardment.

The colonel of the 202nd, though lying wounded on a stretcher,
assisted the commander who took his place. The latter took with him
at all risks, to sound his orders, a bugler who had not finished
his training and did not know much about bugling. Moreover, his
instrument was far from perfect.

"Sound all the same", ordered the commandant, "Sound every time you
see the Boche".

[Illustration: THE VAST CEMETERY OF FLEURY.--_On the horizon
Douaumont fort._]


_The communicating trench in the foreground was levelled everyday by
heavy shells and remade at night._]

Though he extracted from his instrument some dreadful noises, the
bugler conscientiously carried out his job, which made him a target
for any number of projectiles. By his side in the same shell-hole a
"feldwebel", captured at the outset of the action, was poking fun at
him. When questioned, he arrogantly replied: "In half an hour, the
Prussian guard will be here. You will see".

Provoked by this, the commandant shouted in his face: "You do not
know my soldiers, it is they whom you will see". Then and there the
commandant led a brilliant counter-attack which threw the enemy back
on the Thiaumont road.

When the commandant returned to his post, the bugler blew a blast as
loud as an ass brays: the "feldwebel" stood to attention, saluted and
said "The French are brave, yes, brave": But he added, throwing a
provoking glance upon the bugler: "Their music is ... rotten".


_In the foreground, the barbed wire entanglements in front of the
French line._]


=Douaumont fort.=

_The gorge of the fort_ with its heaped up moats _is now reached_.

_Climb on to the superstructure of the fort_, a kind of rough and
devastated field where grass grows and the wind whistles.

Several French 400 shells and a German 420 have broken the thick
shell of the fort; deep funnels mark their track.

From Douaumont fort, southwards, the plateau falls and ends in
wooded slopes which overhang Bazil ravine: these are Caillette and
Fausse-Côte woods. Above rise Vaux fort, then to the right Tavannes,
and next Souville. The plateau which contains Douaumont extends to
Froideterre Hill.

[Illustration: THE SUPERSTRUCTURE OF DOUAUMONT FORT.--_On the right_:
AN OBSERVATION POST. _On the horizon_: a. Hill 378.--b. The Twin

Turning towards the valley of the Meuse, the monument of "Bayonet
Trench" can be seen about 1,500 metres away, the site of Douaumont
village being half-way. Beyond the monument are the slopes which
surround Dame and Helly ravines. On the horizon are outlined the
heights of the left bank of the Meuse, Mort-Homme and Hill 304. The
peak of Montfaucon also rises on the horizon.

To the north is the battlefield of the surprise attack of February
21st-25th. The plateau is marked with small hills and culminates at
Hill 378, Vauche wood with its skeletony trees standing out: further
to the right are two adjoining mounds, the Ornes twins, and finally
to the West, by the Hardaumont Hill, the plateau falls on the plain
of Woëvre.

[Illustration: DOUAUMONT FORT IN MAY 1921.

_In front of the entanglements, the path leading up to the
superstructure of the fort._]

[Illustration: DOUAUMONT FORT IN JANUARY 1916.]

=The capture of Douaumont fort (February 25th 1916).=

For four days the German infantry, advancing from the crests which
formed the horizon to the North (the twin Ornes, Caures wood), made
ground in the region of woods and ravines lying before the slopes of
Douaumont, despite the heroic sacrifices of the 37th Division, the
Chasseurs (2nd and 4th Battalions) of the 20th Corps and the 31st
Brigade (Reibell), all hopelessly outnumbered.

On the 25th the enemy, encouraged by their advance, hurried forward
their attacks. Near Vauche wood they climbed the slopes leading
to the plateau of Douaumont. The units composing the van of the
24th Brandenburgers had orders to halt and reorganise about 800
metres from the barbed wire entanglements of the fort. One of the
lieutenants commanding a company of this regiment decided, however,
to take a chance and push on to the fort situated on the crest which
was covered with snow. The company advanced under cover of patrols
and made a breach in the entanglements. They then discovered the side
casemates and, seeing no one, they slithered along the poles in the
moats and then climbed up the wall of the scarp on a bank of snow. In
this way they gained an entry into the fort which was only held by
the turret artillerymen and a few engineers who were surprised and

The attackers were presently joined by another company of the same

The French officer in command of the fort had been misled by the snow
storm into taking the attacking party for Frenchmen who were falling
back and consequently made no effort to stop them.

Why was Douaumont fort almost unmanned?

After the fall, in 1914, of Liége and Maubeuge forts, the high
Command had decided against garrisoning forts, and for merging the
garrisons with the troops in the field.

Suddenly, on February 25th 1916, the fort till then in the third
line, became the first line of defence and moreover at the junction
of two units already widely deployed. On that particular day, the
staff of General Balfourier which took the place of that of General
Chrétien did not imagine for an instant that the fort was so denuded
of defenders. Hence this unfortunate incident.


=The French attack of May 22nd 1916.=

Douaumont became an excellent observation post for the enemy. On
May 22nd, the 10th Brigade of Mangin's division intended to try and
capture it.

From the 19th to the 22nd the French heavy guns bombarded the fort.
On the 20th, the bursting of a 400 shell caused a tremendous fire in
the fort, which blew up a munitions depot and annihilated a whole
battalion, according to prisoners' accounts.

On the 22nd, at midday, the 129th Line Regiment occupied the west
part of the fort, but the 74th, unable to take the east part, held on
to the crest about 200 metres away.

During the night and the day of the 23rd, the enemy artillery pounded
the narrow salient recaptured by the French. A battalion of the 74th
lost 75% of its effectives.

On the 24th, the 1st Bavarian Corps reserved for the attack on the
left bank of the Meuse, recaptured the fort and its approaches from
the decimated troops of the 10th Brigade.

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

=The Victory of Douaumont (October 24th 1916).=

For five months the enemy progressed inch by inch from Douaumont fort
to Chapelle Sainte-Fine. In a few hours on October 24th, Mangin's
troops were destined to recapture all this field of battle.

On October 24th a dense fog overhung the whole plateau, but Mangin
decided to attack all the same. At 11.40 a.m. three attacking
divisions were launched.

They marched by the compass without hurrying, in good order and with
assurance, over muddy ground, full of holes, where it was essential
to avoid sinking in or stumbling. At first observation posts were
useless but several aeroplanes went up, and as masters of the air and
flying very low, they followed the progress of the troops and kept
the Commander informed.

West of the fort, on Froideterre Hill, the "tirailleurs" of the Guyot
de Salins division captured Thiaumont redoubt at a single dash, which
had cost so much blood and effort. While the "tirailleurs" were
consolidating the captured positions, the zouaves went through them
and hurled themselves upon the village of Douaumont, outflanking the
fort to the west.

East of the fort, chasseurs and foot soldiers of the Passaga division
advanced towards Hardaumont Hill, crossed Bazil ravine, without
check, and captured Caillette woods.

General Ancelin who commanded the left brigade of the division was
killed at the start of the engagement.

The dense fog, which had concealed the starting of the attacking
waves and had enabled them to reach the railway without having a
single shell directed at them, cleared and showed Douaumont fort on
the left.

This view magnetised the chasseurs and foot soldiers. A soldier waved
a flag on the muzzle of his rifle, while another man, standing on the
crest, madly sounded the charge.

But Douaumont fort was the prime objective and upon a Colonial
regiment from Morocco, the one that captured Fleury, fell the
glorious task of taking it.

Croll's battalion was to surround the fort, then go beyond and cut
it off while Nicolay's battalion was to attack and enter it, drive
out the enemy and take up their position there. However, in the thick
fog, this battalion inclined too much to the West and was late. The
captain commanding the first wave of Croll's battalion not catching
sight of his comrades, instead of going round the fort, took the
initiative of crossing the superstructure. There his men fell in
with foot soldiers of the 321st Infantry Regiment the extreme left
wing of Passaga's division, who were trying to find touch with the
Colonials. The battalion came up at the very moment when the fog
lifted and revealed the fort.


"With the French aeroplane cruising low just over the fort", wrote
Commander Nicolay in his report, "the battalion approaches the moats
in single column line, their leaders in front and rifles slung.
Then they climb the steep slopes of the rampart gorge. On reaching
the top of this rampart, they find in front of them the mouths of
the casemates wide open, and, further forward, the court in an
extraordinary state of disorder. In front of this chaos which the
great fort had become, emblem of determination and power marvellously
recovered, the heads of the column stand still and gaze. The
battalion commander, who had halted for a moment at the bottom of
the moat to see the movement was correctly carried out, rejoins at
this instant the head, and while paying homage to this sacred and
unforgettable sight, he gives orders to attack the machine guns which
start to fire from the bottom of the casemates. This first resistance
is overcome, and everyone reaches his objective (the operation having
been fully rehearsed before the attack). All opposition from the
turrets is likewise successively dealt with".


The superstructure of the fort was conquered. There remained the
posts and the corridors to be attacked: bombers made themselves
responsible for these and in a short while a hundred prisoners,
including four officers, were brought in with 10 machine guns, 2
cannons, provisions and material of all kinds.

The prisoners assisted their conquerors in putting out the fire which
was still burning.

During the night the line was advanced 400 metres more to the North.
Douaumont fort, the famous "corner-stone" of the defence of Verdun,
lost by surprise on a day of grief, was recaptured in a magnificent

On the following December 15th, a new French offensive cleared the
Douaumont line 2 miles more to the North, thus robbing the enemy of
any possibility of re-taking the fort.

_Visit the interior of the fort under the escort of one of the guard._

At the entrance, a casemate has been burst open by a French 400 shell.

The lower structure of the fort, corridors, casemates and rooms are
almost intact.

In one casemate is a small museum of shells, grenades, trench
mortars, machine guns and all kinds of respirators.

THE 3RD BATTALION OF THE 74TH. (Photo Martin Collardelle, Verdun.)]

_East of the fort the monument erected in honour of the 3rd battalion
of the 74th Infantry Regiment can be reached._

_On the other side, to the West, the tourist can go as far as the
ruins of Douaumont village._

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

=Douaumont village.=

It was chiefly in front of this village that the surprise attack of
February 21st was checked.

On the evening of February 25th, zouaves and the "tirailleurs"
rescued it. From the 26th to the 28th, the 5th German Infantry
Division made five furious attacks, but were unable to break down
the resistance of the 95th Line Regiment and units of the 153rd
Division which were defending the village. On March 2nd, after a
preliminary bombardment which destroyed the village and isolated the
battalion holding it, the 113th German Infantry Division attacked
about 1.15 p.m., North and East. The Germans wore French helmets as
they advanced. After a second bombardment the enemy again attacked,
overwhelming the defenders, one company of whom resisted to the
last man. The remains of the French battalion took their stand
fifty metres South-East of the village and prevented the enemy from
debouching. On the 3rd, two battalions of the 172nd and 174th Line
Regiments retook the village at the point of the bayonet. During the
night the Germans counter-attacked twice unsuccessfully with heavy
loss, 800 dead being counted in front of one of the French trenches.
On the 4th a third and more powerful counter-attack succeeded in
driving the French from the village, but broke down against new
positions 200 yards to the south.

_Return to the Thiaumont road._



_Continue to the left, towards the crest where the_ =temporary
mortuary of Douaumont= _is situated._

A memorial fund to the Defenders of Verdun is being raised for the
purpose of erecting a mortuary in the centre of the battlefield, on a
lofty point giving a clear view of the whole area. (_See the yellow
pages at the beginning of the Guide_). The memorial will include,
besides the mortuary, a large Catholic chapel and a mausoleum of each



The remains will not be all placed together, as is the case in most
existing mortuaries, but will be collected according to the sectors
where they were found and placed in a hundred separate tombs. By this
arrangement those who mourn a lost hero can kneel before a particular
tomb with the hope that his remains are there.

On August 22nd, 1920, Marshal Pétain, honorary President of the
Committee, laid the foundation stone of the permanent mortuary. That
of the Catholic chapel was laid with the co-operation of M. James A.
Flaherty, supreme head of the Chevaliers of Colomb.




_It will shine forth at night over the immortal battlefield of



[Illustration: THE MONUMENT OF "BAYONET TRENCH" (A. Ventre,

_On the right, the trench leading to the porch of the monument._]

="Bayonet Trench".=

_From Douaumont mortuary, go down towards the monument of Bayonet
Trench. The road passes through the ruins of Thiaumont farm, which
once adjoined this road._

Near the bend in the road rises the monument of "Bayonet Trench",
erected to the memory of the heroes of the 137th through the
generosity of the American citizen, George F. Rand.

How were the foot soldiers of the 137th buried alive? Many stories
centre round this tragic episode. The following version of the story
is vouched for by one of the surviving officers, Lieutenant Foucher:

"Setting out from the citadelle of Verdun on June 9th 1916, the 1st
battalion of the 137th reached the line on the night of the 10th-11th
and relieved the 337th.

"Bayonet Trench" lay on the right of the 3rd company and on the
left of the 4th company. On the morning of June 11th, a violent
bombardment took place, lasting all that day and part of the night.
During the course of the 11th under the bombardment of shells of
150, 210 and larger calibre, the trench assumed the appearance from
which it gained its name. The men were awaiting the attack with
fixed bayonets, but their rifles were propped against the parapet
within reach, for they had in their hands bombs to be used as a first
means of repelling the probable attack. Shells falling in front,
behind and on the trench broke in the edges of the latter, burying
our brave Vendéens and Bretons. Owing to the men not having their
rifles in their hands, the bayonets stuck out after the collapse of
the trenches. From that evening, June 11th 1916, the trench kept the
appearance which it was found still to bear at the Armistice."



_carried out by M. E. Brandt, art iron-worker (101, Boulev. Murat,


_On the horizon, Poivre Hill._]

_Return to the car._

_The road merges into_ =Dame ravine.= Formerly, Nawé wood extended to
the left, but now not even the stumps remain, so churned up is the
ground. From the ridge to the bottom of the ravine the soil is pitted
with shell-holes.

From June to October 1916, the first German lines ran over the ridge
which stands out on the left. On October 24th 1916, the day of the
victory of Douaumont, the Zouaves and the "tirailleurs" of the 36th
Division cleared these slopes which were honeycombed with dug-outs.
All who were cowering in these shelters gave up without a show of
fight. An officer of high rank, was captured as he was getting out of
bed and a quarter-master was made prisoner with all his mail.

During the following night, Sergeant Julien of the 4th Zouaves,
returning from a ration party was captured by the Germans who were
still occupying a dug-out. However, he took a high tone with them,
telling them of the fall of Douaumont, and invited them to give
themselves up in their turn, then and there. He so impressed them
that they soon laid down their arms. He then collected them and
brought back to the rear of the French lines his magnificent "bag", a
company and six officers.

_At a turning in the road_ =Haudromont Quarries= are shortly visible.
Their steep white walls show up against the clay of the hill. The
enemy had cut galleries in the stone, proof against the heaviest

These quarries were captured from the enemy at the time of the taking
of Douaumont by the 11th Infantry Regiment, who on the left wing
extended the general attacking front.

The infantrymen set out, singing: "We shall get in the quarries when
the Boches are no longer there ...", and surrounded the quarries
from the North. They encircled the defenders, firing on them from
top to bottom, while the Germans who had taken up their refuge there
protracted the resistance. The fight continued with bombs in the
galleries until evening.


_From_ =Haudromont= _quarries a further 300 metres to the right is_
=Helly ravine.=

On the left is Couleuvre ravine, to which the battered slopes of
Chauffour wood, captured during the offensive of December 1917,

These slopes are crowned on the east by Douaumont fort which is
plainly silhouetted against the sky.

_Next, return to the quarries and keep straight on to_ =Bras.=

_Before reaching Bras, a road goes off to the right to_ =Poivre Hill=
_and_ =Louvemont.=

_The road which goes uphill to Louvemont was reconstructed after the
village in May 1921._

[Illustration: HELLY RAVINE IN MAY 1921.--_On the horizon, Poivre

[Illustration: LOUVEMONT VILLAGE IN APRIL 1917.]

=Poivre Hill.=

On the evening of February 25th, the 37th Infantry Division which
had suffered severely and was afraid of being outflanked on the
South-East, fell back on the ridge of Froideterre. Verdun was almost
unguarded in the valley of the Meuse. The 39th Division of the 20th
Corps promptly reoccupied Poivre Hill and barred the road to Bras.

[Illustration: POIVRE HILL. (Photo Martin Collardelle.)

_In the foreground, the last train to run at the foot of Poivre Hill
in February 1916. It was wrecked on the spot by artillery fire._]

The enemy endeavoured to break through this barrier, but they were
enfiladed by salvoes of artillery which was in position on the left
bank of the Meuse. During the entire battle of Verdun, the southern
slopes of Poivre Hill and the woods which extend down the slopes on
to the Meuse formed, along the edge of the Meuse, an unbroken pivot
of the whole of the French line on the right bank of the Meuse.


In 1916 the Germans converted the opposite slope, north of Poivre
Hill, into a regular fortress, with concrete galleries, redoubts and
armed posts. On December 15th 1916, three columns of the 112th Line
Regiment, supported and covered on the march by quick-firing guns,
rushed this fortress, flanking the entire German line. It was a
complete surprise and in half an hour Poivre Hill was in our hands.
German officers were captured as they were getting out of their beds.
During this same attack, but more to the east, Commander Nicolay,
one of the victors of Douaumont, was killed in front of a fortified

_The tourist who wishes to see the monument of Caures wood, erected
to the memory of Colonel Driant and his chasseurs will turn right at
Bras, in the direction of Vacherauville, where he will turn right
along G. C. 6a to Ville. The monument is situated about 4-1/2 miles
from Vacherauville at the junction of the road followed with the road
which branches off to Flabas (See plan p. 60)._

[Illustration: THE RUINS OF BRAS IN 1918.]


_Return to Vacherauville and turn left towards Verdun along R. N. 64:
the road follows the Meuse, and twists round the foot of Froideterre
Hill, then Belleville and Saint-Michel. Verdun is re-entered by the
Porte Chaussée._


_The R. N. 64, camouflaged, crosses the village. On the right branch
off the Louvemont road towards Poivre Hill, and the Douaumont road
(itinerary). In the left foreground, the canal that runs parallel
with the Meuse and a lock._]

_2nd Itinerary:_


[Illustration: Map (TN).]

_Leave Verdun by the_ =Porte de France.= _Beyond the railway bridge,
keep straight along the valley of the Meuse which is dominated on the
right by Belleville Hill._

_Pass through_ =Thierville= _village._

_Opposite is seen_ =Marre fort.= _At the foot of the hill on which
the fort stands, turn to the right._ _Leaving on the left the farm of
Villers-les-Moines, the road then climbs a small eminence, Hill 243,
below which is the_ =Charny redoubt.= _The road branching off to the
right crosses the railway and leads to_ =Charny.=

It was at Charny that the Germans crossed the Meuse in 1870. Here
they shot the retired notary, M. Violard, on the pretext that he had
aided the francs-tireurs in a surprise attack.

_The road skirts the north slopes of the hills on which stand the
modern forts of_ =Vacherauville=, =Marre= _and_ =Bois-Bourrus.=

[Illustration: CHARNY.

_The Church and the main street in January 1916._]

[Illustration: CHARNY.

_The village in January 1917._]

[Illustration: _The church and the main street in May 1919._]

=Marre= _will be found almost entirely destroyed. After passing the
ruins of the church, take the right-hand road and keep straight on
to_ =Cumières.= _Half-way the station is passed on the right and on
the left is the road to_ =Chattancourt.=

Attacked on March 14th, and destroyed by shell fire on April 25th,
=Cumières= was only captured by the enemy during the night of May
23rd-24th. On May 26th, in the evening, after a desperate struggle
the French retook the eastern portion.

[Illustration: THE RUINS OF MARRE. _After passing the church, the car
turns right, towards Cumières. On the left, the road to Bourrus woods
is impassable._]

On May 29th and 30th, after two days of continuous bombardment,
they were momentarily driven back by superior numbers towards
Chattancourt, but a vigorous counter-attack brought the French again
to the southern outskirts of the village. Caurettes wood, however, to
the south-west of Cumières remained in the enemy's hands.

On August 20th 1917, Cumières village and wood were recaptured by a
regiment of the Foreign Legion who attacked singing _La Madelon_.

_From_ =Cumières= _the road goes straight on to_ =Oie Hill.=

[Illustration: CUMIÈRES VILLAGE IN AUGUST 1917.]


_From_ =Cumières,= _return to Chattancourt station and keep right
along the road to_ =Chattancourt.= _About 800 metres further on
the village of Chattancourt, completely levelled to the ground, is

From Chattancourt the positions of =Mort-Homme= can be visited _by
the road going to Bethincourt_. _Motor-cars can go as far as the top
of Hill 295 or Mort-Homme, where it is necessary to turn the car
round and return to Chattancourt, as the road is cut near Bethincourt
by the Forges stream, which has entirely flooded the lower part of
the village._


[Illustration: CHATTANCOURT ON MAY 16TH, 1916.--_On the horizon,_ THE


[Illustration: Map (TN).]


Like Hill 304, Mort-Homme was one of the most fiercely disputed
positions on the left bank. It consists of twin hills: No. 265 (of
which the Bethincourt-Cumières road skirts the summit) and No. 295
(the Morte-Homme proper, round which the road winds on the N. E.),
and formed an excellent observation post and artillery position in
front of the real line of resistance.

On March 5th, 1916, the German offensive, which, until then, had
been confined to the right bank of the river, developed with great
violence on the left flank, progressing in six days to the slopes of

On the 14th, after a bombardment lasting five hours, sometimes at the
rate of 120 shells to the minute, consisting of shells of all kinds,
time-fuse, percussion, poison gas and tear gas, the enemy's infantry
attack on Mort-Homme began.

The 25th Division (Debeney), under orders not to fall back, was half
buried and asphyxiated. Four colonels, including Colonel Garçon
commanding the brigade, and their staffs fell, rifles in hand.

Hill 265 was taken but the infantry and zouaves, by a magnificent
defence, held their ground on Hill 295, the key to the entire
position. A counter-attack by the 15th Regiment further drove back
the attackers to the North-West counter-slopes.

[Illustration: MORT-HOMME IN APRIL 1916.]

On April 9th, the enemy crept up the ravine of Corbeaux wood and
attacked the line between the summits of Hills 265 and 295. During
a struggle of unprecedented fury lasting over four hours and foiled
four times in succession, the enemy reorganised and made fresh
attacks until evening. The 8th and 16th battalions of chasseurs and
the 2nd battalion of the 151st Line Regiment repulsed the Germans in
terrific hand-to-hand fighting. The 8th battalion of chasseurs, "the
battalion of Sidi Brahim" was outflanked on the wings and fought with
three fronts, determined to hold on till the last man fell.


On the 20th, the 32nd French Corps (Berthelot), in their turn,
took the offensive. After a careful artillery preparation,
three battalions of the 40th Infantry Division passed Hill
295 and established their line on the north slopes. The enemy
counter-attacked with an effort to outflank Mort-Homme by Hayette
ravine but suffered terrible losses.

On the summit of Mort-Homme, the 150th Infantry Regiment repulsed all
the attacks of a determined enemy and held Hill 295.

In order to ensure a greater measure of security, orders were given
to protect, by means of wire entanglements, the small defensive post
at the top of the hill. As soon as night fell, a man volunteered to
put the first entanglement in place and was immediately shot dead.
A second man immediately took his dead comrade's place and carried
on with the work. He too, was killed. The same fate befell a third
man, who after seeing his two fellow-soldiers killed, volunteered to
continue with the task. A fourth man brought in the three bodies of
the men who had just been killed in trying to put the entanglements
in position, and then volunteered to fix a fourth entanglement
alongside the others. Eventually the small outpost was entirely
protected, and thanks to the sacrifice of these four brave men of the
150th Regiment, the enemy's efforts failed to pierce the defences.

Finally on May 23rd, a fresh German Corps was hurled against the
summit of Mort-Homme, and succeeded in gaining possession of it.

From June 9th to 24th, the enemy were unable to debouch from
Mort-Homme owing to the firm stand taken up by the 15th Corps

On June 15th, more than a kilometre of trenches was actually
recaptured from the enemy.


In 1917, the sector was often the scene of violent combats, the
Germans ending by occupying Hills 265 and 295. In these they
organised formidable defences, according to their usual practice,
especially as regards deep shell-proof tunnels. During the offensive
of August 20th 1917 the 31st Infantry Division recaptured Mort-Homme
and its tunnels.

_Follow the clearly marked path which ascends the slopes of
Mort-Homme as far as the monuments to the 40th and 69th Divisions.
By following the trench a little beyond the monument to the 40th
Infantry Division and to the right, one reaches the mouth of and
steps down to the Bismarck tunnel. Continue along the ridge towards
Corbeaux wood, from whence there is a panorama view of the valley
of the Forges stream and the heights north of this valley (the old
French line of March 1916). On the right can be seen Caurettes ravine
with its denuded wood._

_About 200 yards in front of the edge of Corbeaux wood, a stairway
with a hundred steps gives access to an enormous German tunnel,
joining Forges ravine and Caurettes ravine._

This tunnel, called Corbeaux tunnel by the French and Gallwitz tunnel
by the Germans was captured by the 7th tirailleurs of the famous
Morocco division.

On August 20th 1917, this tunnel was passed over but the enemy still
held out in it.

Zouaves and tirailleurs kept careful watch at all the exits and
ventilating shafts of this immense underground cavern, and it was
not until the following day that the garrison of eleven hundred men
including a colonel, three battalion commanders, and all their staff
gave themselves up.

_Continue as far as the northern edges of_ =Corbeaux wood.=

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

DIVISION. (Photo Martin Collardelle.)]

=Corbeaux Wood.=

The table-lands dominated by the two Mort-Homme hills are cut on the
north by a ravine bounded at the bottom by Corbeaux wood. This was
a favourable spot for the massing and launching of attacking troops
to reach Hill 295. On March 6th, the French line was brought back to
the northern edges of the wood. On the 7th, the enemy succeeded in
getting a footing there, wild hand-to-hand fighting being accompanied
with so much bloodshed that in many places the snow became red.
On the 8th, the 92nd Infantry Regiment retook the wood in twenty
minutes; on the 10th, at nightfall, the 92nd, deprived of its colonel
and receiving no support from the French artillery who failed to see
their rocket signals on account of the intervening wood, had to give
ground inch by inch under the assault of an entire German division.


[Illustration: THE ROAD FROM CHATTANCOURT TO ESNES, _at the foot of
Hill 275._

_In the background where the roads meet (Montzéville to the left,
Esnes to the right), take the one on the right to Esnes._]

_Return to the car by the same path. From Mort-Homme go back to_
=Chattancourt= _and take the road on the right to_ =Esnes.= _This
rather steep road climbs the northern slopes of Hill 275, bringing
one to a pass from which Hill 304 may be seen opposite. Continue
as far as the cross-roads where turn right to go into Esnes. After
passing the ruins of Esnes church, keep straight on, taking the
second turn on the right not the first which leads to Bethincourt._

[Illustration: ESNES VILLAGE, SEPTEMBER 25TH 1916.]


_Do not take the left-hand road which ends in a very steep rough
track in a bad state of repair (plan p. 118). The second road to the
right twists and turns, leading to the Calvary of Esnes, from which
there is a magnificent view of the battlefields on the left bank from
Mort-Homme to Bois-Bourrus. At the Calvary, take the right-hand of
the two roads._

This road passes between Hill 287 and the famous Hill 304.


[Illustration: Map (TN).]

=Hill 304.=

Hill 304, with Hills 287 and 310 South of Esnes, forms a line of
natural fortresses which kept under their cross fire not only the
roads of approach but also the bare glacis or the steep escarpments
immediately bordering them.

The nearest sheltered approaches to Hill 304 are Avocourt and
Malancourt woods. From these woods started the first attack conducted
by the 11th Bavarian Division against the hill on March 20th 1916.

The Bavarians were checked, however, by the French cross fire, on
the long barren slopes leading to the ridge. From March 20th to 22nd
their three regiments lost, to no purpose, from fifty to sixty per
cent of their effective strength. On April 9th, before Hill 287, the
first German attacking wave succeeded in gaining the support trench,
but the French survivors in the advance trench crawled out from among
the dead and debris of their trench and annihilated the attackers.

On May 3rd, 80 German batteries concentrated their fire on Hill 304
and its approaches.

Clouds of black, green and yellow smoke rose from the hill-top
as from a volcano, obscuring the sky to a height of 2,500 feet,
according to the reports of aviators. As a British war correspondent
put it: "The sky was like a dome of invisible rails on which fast
trains ran madly". On May 4th and 5th, a fresh German division
attempted to occupy the position, believing it and its defenders to
have been annihilated. On the 4th, they gained a footing on the North
slopes of Hill 304, from which they were dislodged during the night
by the 68th, who then had to withdraw. On the 5th the same German
division attacked the Camard Wood and Hill 287 on the left. In this
wood, entirely levelled by an eleven-hour bombardment, the 66th Line
Regiment first held up, then charged the assailants at the point
of the bayonet. At Hill 287 a battalion of the 32nd Line Regiment
likewise brilliantly repulsed two attacks. On May 7th, after a
tremendous shelling, the enemy attacked Hill 304 simultaneously from
three sides with troops from five different divisions. It was their
greatest effort against this position. Thanks to two French regiments
of picked troops (125th and 114th), one company of which charged,
to the strains of _La Marseillaise_, the Germans were thrown into
disorder and driven back to the N. slopes. During the rest of the
month the enemy counter-attacked but without success.

On June 29th and 30th, the enemy endeavoured to outflank Hill 304
East and West, by means of liquid fire.

During December, fresh efforts came to nothing.

[Illustration: RECAPTURED TRENCH ON HILL 304, AUGUST 24TH, 1917.]

During 1917, the Germans continued stubbornly with their attacks on
Hill 304.

On June 28th and 29th, a powerful attack carried Hill 304 and an
advance was made between the hill and the south-east corner of
Avocourt wood, in a slight hollow, known as =Col de Pommerieux=. This
hollow was, however, reconquered on July 17th by the French 51st and
87th Infantry Regiments, supported by two battalions of the 97th
Infantry Division (335th and 346th Regiments) and one battalion of
the 73rd Infantry Division. After a remarkable artillery preparation,
the French infantrymen, in half-an-hour, reached the fortified crest,
and regained a kilometre of ground. The 87th Line Regiment, went 300
yards beyond their allotted objective and captured an observation
post, in front of the crest, which they promptly christened "Le
créneau de Gretchen". The attack caught the enemy off their guard at
the very moment a relief was being carried out, and 520 prisoners
belonging to three different divisions were taken.


On August 24th, Hill 304 was wrested from the Germans by the 272nd
and 128th Infantry Regiments of the 5th Brigade (Nérel). This brigade
which attacked in front of Hill 304, on the Pommerieux plateau and at
Camard wood, captured prisoners belonging to five German divisions.
On the same evening, after capturing Hill 304 this brigade stormed
several redoubts and carried the first line to the Forges stream,
i.e. more than two kilometres from the starting point.

[Illustration: AVOCOURT VILLAGE IN MARCH 1916.]

From Hill 304, return to =the Esnes Calvary= _and from there take the
road on the right to_ =Avocourt.=

=Avocourt, Avocourt and Malancourt Woods.=

One of the finest feats of arms in the battle of Verdun was performed
at Avocourt.

[Illustration: THE CENTRE OF AVOCOURT, IN APRIL 1916.]

On March 20th, 1916, the Germans who had never been able to take the
village, attacked the wood with a fresh division, the 11th Bavarian
Division. The attack succeeded, with the help of liquid fire. A
French counter-attack on the 29th by the 210th Infantry Regiment,
and a battalion of the 157th, recaptured the wood and the redoubt
known as the "Réduit d'Avocourt". The attacking troops which had not
been revictualled for four days, had finished their reserve rations
twelve hours previously. So fatigued were they that they slept
standing despite the bombardment. To rouse them, their chiefs, at 3
a.m. next morning, ordered the buglers and drummers to play. As the
day was breaking the music suddenly stopped, a shell having buried
all save one drummer. Furious at this, the men, with the drummer at
their head, rushed forward, and by 8 a.m. the wood had been entirely



[Illustration: MALANCOURT WOOD IN 1916.

_Photographed from the French line. The sandbags mark the German



_From Avocourt, return to Esnes. Again take the Chattancourt road
but about 1,500 metres from Esnes, take the road on the right to_
=Montzéville,= _G. C. 18, as far as_ =Dombasle-en-Argonne,= _where
take R. N. 3 to_ =Verdun.=

Dombasle was one of the points where the Sainte-Menehould-Verdun
railway was bombarded.


[Illustration: IN THE CIRCUIT DE NIXÉVILLE (_the loop which bounds
the "Sacred Way" on the north_), A REGIMENT ENTERING LORRIES TO BE

_Going through_ =Blercourt,= _there are two level crossings to pass:
after the second, the_ ="Sacred Way"= _branches off on the right to
Bar-le-Duc, via Souilly._

The fate of Verdun, even of France, depended on this road.
Disintegrated by frost and thaw, and subjected to the wild rush
of transport which in the space of five days raised the fighting
strength of the Verdun army from 150,000 to 800,000, this road
visibly sank. When General Pétain took command of the battle on
February 25th, his first care was to ensure that this road was firm
and sound. All along the road 16,000 men divided into gangs were
engaged upon the task of repairing it. Quarries were opened in the
vicinity, and without interrupting the convoys of lorries which ran
at regular intervals, thousands of roadmen threw tons of stones on
the road. The road stood up to the strain and carried all necessary
supplies up to the vast battle.

[Illustration: _Refugees from the Verdun District passing through_
SOUILLY _along the_ "SACRED WAY" _worn into furrows by motor

_Re-enter_ =Verdun= _by the_ =Porte de France.=

_3rd. Itinerary:_



[Illustration: Map (TN).]

_Leave_ =Verdun= _by the Pont Beaurepaire, Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville,
Rue St-Sauveur, Rue St-Victor, the Porte Nationale and R. N. 3 (See
plan of Verdun, exit III)._

_Follow R. N. 3 for two and a half kilometres and then take R. N. 64,
on the right, which follows the Meuse valley, towards Houdainville
and Dieue-sur-Meuse. At the latter village, turn left along I. C. 5
to Sommedieue. This very picturesque road climbs through Amblonville
forest towards the_ =Tranchée de Calonne,= _I. C. 3 which should be
taken on the right._

=The Tranchée de Calonne.=

It is almost straight, crossing the entire Amblonville forest. It was
formerly the haunt of poachers and hunters only.

But now the Tranchée de Calonne evokes more tragic memories. From the
word "Tranchée" it might be supposed that it was a relic of the Great
War. It is not so, however, since for more than a century this name
had been given to the road which M. de Calonne, Minister of Finance
under Louis XVI, had had laid out on the ridge of hills to approach
his château, built at the foot of the Heights of the Meuse. This
château was destroyed during the Revolution.


_French trenches and observation posts, on the right of the road, in
the Taillis de Sauls, in front of the Éparges road (plan on opposite

The story goes that M. de Calonne hoped one day to receive the king
in his residence, and wishing to welcome him in a worthy manner, had
planted rose trees all along the road. Anyway, during the war wild
roses could be seen blooming along this forest road which became
indeed a "trench" in the military sense of the word.

The front cut the "tranchée de Calonne" a little to the south-west
of Saint-Rémy. On both sides it was bombarded and kept busy with
never-ending attacks and counter-attacks.

In March 1915, the French brought into position there naval 140 guns
intended for firing at a 12,000 metre range over Éparges, right
behind the enemy lines. It was with difficulty that the sailors
installed their heavy guns in this clay soil.

This effective bombardment irritated the Germans, who on the 24th,
launched a mass attack which reached the third support line.

The naval officers who were isolated in their post with their
telephone wires cut and no contact with the infantry, rapidly
organised their defence and swept the ground with the fire of their
only heavy guns and a few 75s, dragged up by hand, which fired with
their sights at zero.

The Germans, however, continued to advance, and on the 25th they
were no more than one kilometre from the guns, the only protection
for the sailors now being broken down trenches and the remains of
barbed wire entanglements. On the 26th, while the sailors were
preparing to make a firm stand against the enemy's attack, two French
battalions of chasseurs, called in to reinforce, crawled through the
undergrowth and gradually got up to the position from which they
counter-attacked. On the 27th, the firing died down, but the Germans
reorganised and again attacked on May 5th. The first rush gave them
some advantages, which were quickly wrested from them by the arrival
in the field of the Moroccan brigade and six battalions of chasseurs
who recaptured, in a few hours, all the ground lost on April 24th.


_On the left, commences the Éparges road which is impassable for

The Tranchée de Calonne enters the forest, every part of which was
used by both sides during the war for engineers' and artillery parks,
aid posts, shelters, small-gauge railways and gun emplacements of
which trace can still be found.

_On the left the bifurcation of Mont-sous-les-Cotes is passed._

Soon the forest clears and then only blackened tree stumps are seen,
cut by shot and shell, as the old lines are crossed.

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

_Pass the road junction, to the left of the Éparges road, a road
which is broken up and impassable. Continue along the Tranchée de
Calonne which crosses, at 1,500 metres, the hill of Senoux near which
were the enemy first line trenches. Turn left along I. C. 13 in the
direction of Saint-Rémy. After 2-1/2 kilometres the road descends as
far as the stream of Longeau or Éparges._

All along this road, on the left side, the Germans had built into
the hill concrete dug outs, pillboxes, underground galleries and
headquarters posts and there are also some German tombs.



_On the right the horizon is bounded by Combres Ridge, on the left by
Éparges Crest._]

_On reaching the valley, near the stream, there are cross-roads,
the road on right leading to_ =Saint-Rémy,= _the ruins of which can
be seen. Continue straight on to_ =Combres,= _along an uphill road.
Beyond the crest, at a sharp turn to the right, opposite a large
blockhouse, get out of the car and proceed left along the path to
the Éparges crest, which at first runs along the south slope of the
spur in the old German positions. Notice on the right the entrances
to many huge mine galleries which, under the crest, communicate with
the openings on the north slope. The path rises to the eastern edge
of the spur, point X (on plan), whence there is a wide view over
the Woëvre. Return along the trenches on the crest. On the north
slopes were the French lines containing a series of huge mine craters
organised into defensive positions. At the highest point marked by a
sign post, an excellent general view of the position is obtained._

[Illustration: ÉPARGES SPUR.

_The path of the itinerary is shown by a dotted line._]

=Éparges Spur.=

Éparges spur, 1,400 metres in length and 346 in height, dominates
the Woëvre plain. Its sides are steep and slippery, springs break
out of the soil and small streams drain down its slopes. It is in
very truth, as it has been called, "a mountain of mud". It is a
magnificent observation post which dominates the surrounding country.
"He who holds Éparges, has all the roads under fire".

The Germans gained possession of Éparges on September 21st 1914 and
quickly organised several lines of trenches between the summit and
the valleys; at certain points five ranges of fire could be brought
to bear on a point, and the whole crest was transformed into a strong
redoubt, flanked east and west with two bastions.

The French occupied, to the North, the brow of Montgirmont and
Éparges village, about 600 metres from the German trenches.

It was at the West part of the Spur (point C) that, at the end of
October, the French commenced their attack, step by step, to the sap,
at the same time penetrating into the woods which cover the flanks of
the ravine.


In February there started a series of almost daily attacks and
counter-attacks, only finishing at the beginning of April. On
February 17th, thanks to a mine explosion, the French got a footing
in the enemy first line; attacks and counter-attacks lasted five
days during which Colonel Bacquel was mortally wounded at the head
of his troops. The French held all the west bastion and they started
to advance towards the east bastion. From March 13th to 21st, they
returned to the attack and occupied the enemy front line.

On March 27th a battalion of chasseurs made a fresh push, bringing
them nearer the summit. On April 5th, started the last big attack
which the 12th Division was to carry on day and night until the 9th.
The rain and muddy ground seemed for the moment to hold them back and
render their efforts in vain.

In the evening, part of the crest was occupied but the use of
aerial torpedoes which blotted out whole ranks of men, and a massed
counter-attack, launched on the morning of the following day at 4.30
a.m., robbed them of the gains of the first advance. During the
evening of the 6th and all the night of the 6-7th, in spite of a
continuous downpour, the trenches were recaptured step by step, with
100 prisoners including several officers.

On the 8th the summit and the west ridge were firmly occupied and at
midnight, after fifteen hours of furious and uninterrupted fighting
practically the whole ridge was in French hands.

On the night of the 8-9th, it took fourteen hours to get fresh troops
into position in squalls of rain and a blinding wind. The attack was
resumed at 3 p.m. on the 9th, the ground being hollowed out into deep
pits into which men sometimes disappeared altogether. Finally the
French held the west bastion (point C), the fortified curtain and
stood their ground in front of the east part (point X).




At the end of 1915 and in 1916 the struggle was rather less bitter
but still deadly enough: the story of a mine exploded by the Germans,
as told by a young Lieutenant of the 74th Infantry Regiment, brings
out vividly the tragic side.

     "On the evening before, I had relieved, between the point "X"
     and the point "C", a section of the 129th. My night had been
     spent in visiting my posts and establishing contact. At daybreak
     I returned to my hole, a mine listening gallery running down
     crosswise for about 15 metres. Everything was quiet and it
     appeared that the enemy had done no work for two days on their
     mine chamber. Were we going to be blown up? No one dreamt it
     would be so.

     "About 4 p.m. we distinguished quite plainly the detonations of
     several petards. "Good, the Boches are working, we are alright
     for to-day!"

     "At that very moment we heard a formidable rumbling, our dug-out
     rocked and came to earth again as though a Hercules had lifted
     it several metres high and then let it fall again with a bump.
     We were turned topsy-turvy one on top of the other in the

     "Cries were heard, some one was wounded. We lighted a candle and
     extricated the man who fortunately had nothing the matter. "Come
     on, boys, at them with bombs".

     "To get out--the exit was blocked three metres high at least.
     Moreover a stream of water had been let in at the higher end of
     the sap.

     "Without loss of time we got down to work. To reach the piled up
     debris a man had to crawl in the midst of the stream, flat on
     his stomach, and only one could work at a time.

     "An hour passed, then two, centuries it seemed. The water rose,
     the air became less and less pure.

     "I spare you the agony of a man who perceived that his end was
     near, who saw it coming and knew that he could not escape it.

     "It was now three hours since the mine went up. The water had
     reached our feet. The candles had gone out, we could breathe
     only with the greatest difficulty, and everything seemed to be
     going round.

     "All of a sudden a cry was heard: "Lieutenant, here is the
     daylight." A man had succeeded in making a hole through the mud
     with the barrel of his rifle.


_The series of mine craters and chambers (see plan p. 115)._]

     "At last! Everyone felt restored to life. Already we could
     breathe again. Our candles would burn.

     "After another half-hour we got out of this hell and it was time

     "Where were we? In the enemy's lines or our own? What had
     happened during these four hours? What had become of my posts?

     "I pointed out to my men the direction of our lines and I
     tried to regain my bearings. But the aspect of the ground had
     completely altered. For half-an-hour I probed the darkness. I
     could make nothing of it, when, suddenly, I seemed to see two
     shadows. I made myself known, but the two men moved off and
     fired a star-shell in my direction. It was a German star-shell.

     "I made my way to the rear and reached the Battalion Command
     Post at Bois Joli. I had been posted "missing".

     "No one had news of my section. I went back to the line and
     found a corporal and two men who were in the line at the time
     of the explosion. For four hours they had prevented the enemy
     patrols from investigating the ground and occupying it. They
     were the sole survivors."


[Illustration: ÉPARGES MONUMENT. (Photo Sommer)]


_On the right, Montgirmont mound. On the left, Hures Hill._]

_Return to the car by the same path._

_Continue straight along and rejoin, at Combres, G. C. D. 10 that
leads to Fresnes or making a half-turn, go down to the cross-roads of
Saint-Rémy, turn to the right towards_ =Éparges,= _cross the village,
and keep on towards_ =Trésauvaux= _passing between the crest of
Montgirmont and Hures Hill, on the left (photo above), and so reach

[Illustration: ÉPARGES VILLAGE IN 1915.]

[Illustration: ÉPARGES VILLAGE IN 1915.

_Barricade of boxes filled with earth barring the main street: on the
right, the church._]

_At Fresnes turn left, on leaving the village, towards Manheulles and
follow R. N. 3 straight on to Verdun._

[Illustration: ÉPARGES VILLAGE.

_A cemetery in front of the last house on the right on the road to

[Illustration: MORT RAVINE (1915) _(See plan p. 129)._

_Dug-outs and French mine entrances on the slope of Éparges Spur._]


A. The Woëvre.--B. The trench from which the photo was taken, on the
crest of Montgirmont.--C. The Éparges crest.--D. Mort ravine.--E.
Dug-outs on the side of Éparges Hill, F. A Trench.]



_4th Itinerary:_

[Illustration: Map (TN).]



_This itinerary is a continuation of the circuit of the left bank of
the Meuse. It joins it at the village of Esnes (see plan above, on
the right)._

_Tourists who do not wish to prolong their itinerary by the loop
Montfaucon-Romagne can make straight for Vauquois, then, in Argonne,
by the G. C. 28, the road from Esnes to Varennes via Avocourt and

_Tourists starting from Sainte-Menehould can reach Varennes by R. N.
3 from Islettes and Clermont-en-Argonne road: from Clermont, climb
the Aire valley as far as Varennes, then Vauquois by G. C. 2a and R.
N. 46._

_This itinerary joins up with that from Champagne via Vienne-la-Ville
and Ville-sur-Tourbe._

_Starting from Esnes by G. C. 18, the road climbs to Hill 304, then
falls to Forges stream and Malancourt, beyond which were our first
lines from 1914 to 1916._

_The road then climbs towards the peak of Montfaucon, one of the most
famous German observation posts along the whole front. This peak
embraced a horizon extending from the plains of Champagne to the
Heights of the Meuse._

From Hill 304 the tourist traverses the battle area of the 79th
American Division when the latter attacked the formidable heights of
Montfaucon on September 26th 1918.

To the 313th American Regiment fell the honour of making a direct
attack on Montfaucon while the other regiments of the division had to
outflank the peak right and left. Reaching the bottom of the slopes
the 313th attacked with two tanks at nightfall. They were overwhelmed
with a deluge of fire and forced to withdraw to the northern edges of
Montfaucon wood.


On the following morning they returned to the attack, supported by
tanks and a barrage of machine guns. At 11 a.m. the 313th entered the
village and at 1 p.m. units of the 27th Division effected contact
with the victors.


_It was constructed on the site of and with the ruins of the



_In the background in front of the trees, the German observation


_In this cemetery, the most impressive in existence, the Americans
have massed together 25,500 graves._]

[Illustration: ROMAGNE. _Straight ahead is the road to Bantheville._]

_A large number of bodies have since been taken to the United States,
but 15,000 graves still remain in this cemetery._

_From Montfaucon follow I. C. 4 to Cierges and Romagne. In Romagne,
near the church keep right along the Cunel road and cross the bridge.
About 250 metres beyond the village, the vast American cemetery
of Romagne on the slopes of a hill comes into view. Return to the
church, then follow the Charpentry-Varennes road, G. C. 2a._

_Pass through Eclisfontaine and then Charpentry. Beyond this village
the road descends the valley of Aire. Two kilometres beyond the
village, turn left along R. N. 46 to Varennes._

_In Varennes, after crossing the railway, and before reaching the
church, turn left for 200 metres, then turn left again along G. C. 38
which goes down to Vauquois. Cross the railway and about 4 kilometres
from Varennes, take the road leading right to the new village of
Vauquois at the foot of the famous mound._



=Vauquois= is one of the famous points of the Argonne battlefield.
The Germans took it in September, 1914, during a strong attack on
the French 3rd Army, in their efforts to encircle Verdun. The ridge
concealed their operations to the north of Varennes, covered the
re-victualling of the Argonne front by the Four-de-Paris road, and
in addition furnished their artillery with an excellent observation
post. The importance of the position caused the Germans to convert
it into a veritable fortress. Caves were made in the rock and
connected by underground passages. The streets of the village were
excavated, so that the vent-holes of the cellars formed loop-holes
on a level with a man's head. The walls of the houses and gardens
were battlemented, and trenches were dug in the slopes in front of
the village. The position was supported and flanked by the guns
in the Woods of Cheppy, Montfaucon and Argonne. Approach was the
more difficult, in that the position was surrounded on all sides by
ravines and glacis, which provided admirable firing positions for the

This formidable position, which, earlier in the war, before the
improvement in the French artillery, would have been considered
impregnable, was taken by the French 10th Infantry Division (Valdant)
after heroic sacrifices. The first assaults especially, made without
artillery preparation or support, cost the splendid French Infantry
heavy losses.

The first attack was made on October 28, 1914, by two battalions of
the 46th Regiment of the line. The French front lines were then on
the Mamelon Blanc, facing Vauquois. Two companies debouching from
Noir Wood attacked the western slopes of Vauquois, the sections
deployed in skirmishing order, without artillery preparation, and
without a single big French gun being fired on the village. As
the men dashed forward up the slopes, they were shot down by the
carefully concealed German riflemen, but continued nevertheless to
advance, in spite of the rain of bullets, till an avalanche of big
German shells overwhelmed and scattered them. At the end of half an
hour almost all of them were out of action.

The second assault was made on the following day (the 29th), after
a very short artillery preparation, during which only a few shells
were fired, most of which failed to burst. Fresh companies attacked
further to the right, near the Cigalerie. The men charged with the
bayonet, but as on the previous day, were mown down by the German
machine-guns and rifles, and failed, after heavy losses. At night, an
attempt to rescue the wounded left on the field was unsuccessful, the
enemy firing pitilessly on the stretcher-bearers, in spite of the Red
Cross lantern.

The third assault was carried out on February 17th, 1915. The
operation went near to success. The artillery preparation with 75's,
155's and 270's lasted more than twelve hours. Before the attack,
three mines should have gone up and destroyed the enemy lines. Only
one exploded, but not being dug deep enough into the hill, the effect
was merely that of a small mine and the stones thrown up fell back
for the most part on the starting off trench, killing or wounding 30
men. In spite of the confusion created by the mine, the men climbed
the ladders and proceeded to the attack. The band of the 31st Line
Regiment, grouped on the Mamelon Blanc, in full view of the enemy,
played the _Marseillaise_. In a few minutes several bandsmen fell
killed or wounded, but the attacking waves had gone forward and
the surviving bandsmen sounded the charge. The colonel of the 31st,
who was leading the attack, fell mortally wounded but the companies
leading the attack scaled the slopes of Vauquois. The 31st charged
into Vauquois and reached the ruins of the church, but caught by the
fire of the Argonne and Montfaucon batteries and the machine guns of
Cheppy, they were forced after heavy losses to fall back. Abandoning
the plateau they held on half-way down the hill.


V. V.: V. de Vauquois; B. N. Noir Wood; V. Vauquois, site of the
village; C. Cigalerie Farm; M. the Maize; M. B. Mamelon Blanc; F. H.
Hesse Forest; B. C. Cheppy Wood.]

A fourth attack was carried out on February 28th with no more
success. At last, on March 1st, the decisive attack was executed by
the 31st, supported by the 46th and the 89th. The preparation was
further improved. A plan of the village, of which only the ruins
were left, was issued to the troops. Each company had its precise
objectives and the men were armed, for the first time, with the new
hand-grenades, charged with melanite.

The bombardment began at dawn. Big guns shattered the dug-outs, and
75's hoisted to the top of Mamelon Blanc, and fed by infantry who
carried up shells on their backs, fired directly on the village.

The start off was magnificent. Suddenly, a flashing line of bayonets
stood erect on the flank of the hill.

[Illustration: VAUQUOIS HILL

_The slope occupied by the French lines: view taken from the Mamelon

_In the foreground, the Gabionnade, then the road from Boureuilles to
Cheppy and the communicating trenches leading to the front line at
the top of the hill._

_In the background was the pretty village of Vauquois of which
nothing is left._]

The slope was hard to climb. Standing on the parapet a bugler
madly sounded the charge until he was laid low by a bullet. At his
observation post, General Valdant, who was following the attack,
turning with great emotion to his officers, raised his kepi, and
said: "Gentlemen, salute!" The fight was stubborn: twice the troops,
dashing from one shell-hole to another, reached the plateau, the
second time standing firm. The houses were taken one by one, and the
church reached. The village had been wiped out--only shell-holes,
heaps of stones, bits of walls and shattered cellars remained.
Throughout the next day the Germans shelled the defenders, who were
armed only with rifles. Outflanked, the French were slowly forced
back from shell-hole to shell-hole, fighting all the time, but their
line of defence, organised under fire on the edge of the plateau,
brought the enemy to a standstill.

[Illustration: ON VAUQUOIS HILL

_A mountain gun placed in position on Vauquois hill, after the
attacks of March 1915. This photograph was taken ten minutes before
the gun was destroyed by a 210 shell (See opposite)._]

At 2 p.m. the French infantry again attacked the village, carried
the German trenches, entered the ruins at 2.35 p.m. and drove back
the enemy at the point of the bayonet. At 3, 4, 5 and 5.30 p.m., the
Germans counter-attacked, but although troops of fourteen different
units were successively launched, they could not dislodge the French
from the main street. Twice during the night they tried, in vain,
to take the church. For four days and nights, under an incessant
pounding by high-explosive shells and a rain of bullets, the French
troops held on, without supplies, dependent for their food on the
rations taken from the dead. The Colonial Infantry, who for a short
time relieved the attacking troops, were decimated in a few days. The
Germans were already making use of a powerful minenwerfer, to which
the French could only reply with hastily-devised mortars roughly made
out of 77 mm. shell-cases, and which carried only 100-150 yards. It
was an unequal contest. The Germans attacked almost every night, but
were repulsed with hand-grenades and rifle fire, sometimes with the
bayonet. The position became untenable, and the French had either to
retreat or advance. Once more they attacked.

On the afternoon of March 4th, the 76th Line Regiment took the German
trenches west of the church, and reached the wall of the cemetery in
spite of small mines being blown up under their feet, and the enemy's
bombs. On the 5th a German counter-attack was repulsed.

The capture of Vauquois by the French was definite. During the night
of the 15th-16th, a fresh German attack was easily repulsed. On
the 16th, at the Cigalerie, which during the attacks of February
and March had served as a dressing station, Standard-bearer
Collignon, of the 46th Regiment of the line, Councillor of State,
and former Secretary-General to the Presidency of the Republic,
who had voluntarily enlisted at the age of fifty-eight, was killed
by the explosion of a shell while trying to rescue a wounded man
belonging to the 76th Regiment of the line. Ever since, at Regimental
roll-calls, his name follows that of La Tour d'Auvergne, and the
reply is made: "Died on the field of honour".

[Illustration: ON VAUQUOIS RIDGE.

_Clearing out the shelter under which the mountain gun, photographed
opposite, used to fire, after its destruction by a 210._]

Cazeneuve, of the Opéra Comique, Adjutant of the 46th Regiment of the
line, who had volunteered at the age of fifty-four, was also killed
at Vauquois by a bomb which shattered his dug-out.

Vauquois for long remained a particularly dangerous sector, the scene
of frequent surprise attacks, of mining and counter-mining, and of
continuous bombardment. The Germans were not reconciled to the loss
of this position, which gave the French an outlook over Varennes and
the road which formed a continuation of the light railway which they
had built between Montfaucon and Spincourt. On March 22, 1915, near
the ruins of the church, they attacked a trench with liquid fire.
Mines were exploded almost every month, followed by fighting for
possession of the craters.


The battle of Verdun was followed by comparative calm in this
sector, both sides practically abandoning mine warfare. In 1917,
there was hardly anything except surprise raids or reconnoitring
parties. On September 26th 1918, the first day of the Franco-American
offensive, the outskirts north of Vauquois were completely cleared
and Boureuilles was captured by the Americans.


_After visiting Vauquois, return to and follow_ G. C. 38 _to_
=Varennes= (214 _miles_).


_Crater formed by a 380 German shell. On the right, Colonel Cuny
commanding the 31st I. R._]


_On the right, the ruins of the house where Louis XVI was arrested._]


_Coming from Vauquois, the lower town is entered, opposite the
church. Cross the bridge over the Aire. The Rue de la Basse-Cour
brings you to the Place du Marché where you will see, on the right,
the ruins of the house in which Louis XVI spent the night before his

Drouet who had recognised the king at Sainte-Menehould, reached
Varennes before him by a short cut. The whole town, aroused by the
tocsin, assembled and compelled the king's carriage to stop.


_Ascend to the upper town which is situated on the slope of a hill.
On leaving the village turn right along G. C. 38, the road to
Vienne-le-Château, which climbs towards the forest of Argonne. At the
edge of the plateau look behind for a view of the Aire valley and
Vauquois Hill. About 3 kilometres past Varennes, a road leads right
to some German dug-outs said to be those of the Crown Prince._

_Return to the Vienne-le-Château road._

One kilometre further and 200 metres beyond the highest point of the
road, the Haute-Chevauchée road branches off right and left, an old
Roman road running along the central ridge of the Argonne plateau.

_Turn left and drive carefully for the first two kilometres which are
in pretty bad repair._

The road passes through Bas-Jardinet Woods, which are full of gun
emplacements. On leaving the woods, the road climbs towards Hill 285.
On the right and behind this hill are the sectors of Fille-Morte and
Courte-Chausse, the scene of struggles as stubborn as those in Grurie


The Haute-Chevauchée road is the central pivot where the Germans
endeavoured, on July 13th 1915, to dent in the French front so as to
reach Clermont-en-Argonne and the Sainte-Menehould-Verdun railway.

On July 13th, the 113th Regiment held the sector of Haute-Chevauchée,
on their right the 4th held Hill 263, while on the left the 91st
were on the plateau of Bolante. After an annihilating fire which
completely destroyed these sectors, five regiments of the 16th German
Corps broke through the French lines. The Germans, who no longer had
any troops to face, believed that they could march unhindered to the
south. Already the enemy patrols had reached the cross road of Maison
Forestière, 2 kilometres south of Hill 285.

The 82nd and 66th Battalions of chasseurs and the 131st who had
just been relieved received warning at their billets and went up
into the line under a barrage of enemy fire, by paths marked out
with corpses, through ravines full of poison gas. The men, who were
exhausted by a whole night's march, hurried forward, gasping and
almost suffocated. The order was given to the infantry and chasseurs
to counter-attack. The 3rd Battalion of the 131st, led by their
commander, swarmed up the steep slope of Bolante plateau. The Germans
crouching among the tall ferns endeavoured to withstand them, but
they were sharply hustled and did not waste time in turning tail.
Bolante plateau and the crest of Fille-Morte were cleared at the
point of the bayonet, without artillery support. Further to the
right, the 66th Battalion of chasseurs captured Hill 285, while
the 82nd, with three battalions in the field, recaptured the crest
joining Hills 285 and 263.

The 1st Battalion of the 82nd relieved the battalion of the 4th which
was defending the redoubt of Hill 263.

The line was established along Hill 285.

_By going on as far as the cross road at the Maison Forestière, the
large cemetery is reached._

ARGONNE". (Photo Sommer.)]

_Return to the Varennes-Four-de-Paris road, downhill road skirting
the Meurissons ravine._

It was in this wild ravine of the Meurissons spring that the
Garibaldian regiment, placed at the disposal of General Gérard,
commanding the 2nd Corps, received their baptism of fire. On December
26, 1914, the 2nd Garibaldian Battalion was detailed to take a German
trench. The attacking front was limited, about 150 yards, but the
position was strongly held and protected by a deep entanglement of
barbed wire. After an artillery preparation lasting from midnight
until dawn, the Garibaldian companies rushed forward, one behind the
other, to make a breach at all costs, but were held up by the uncut
wire. At one point an opening was made and a few men got through to
the edge of the German trench, only to be killed there. It was during
this engagement, which cost the 2nd Battalion 30 dead, 17 missing,
and 111 wounded, that Second-Lieutenant Bruno Garibaldi--a grandson
of Giuseppe Garibaldi, "the old red bird" whom, in 1870, the Prussian
General Werder confidently expected to "catch in his nest" in the
Vosges, but failed in the attempt--was killed. Bruno Garibaldi,
though in reserve, advanced to the assault with the 2nd Battalion,
his sword drawn, his green tunic unfastened, showing the traditional
and symbolic red shirt. Wounded in the hand, he went back to the
trench to have it dressed, then returned immediately to the fight.
Struck by a bullet, he continued to urge his men forward, until
another laid him low. Before dying, he embraced a wounded comrade
near by, saying "Kiss my brothers for me".


_The German front line cut the road at this point. On the left,
Meurissons ravine; on the horizon, Biesme valley._]


_German shelters on the counter slope. Bolante plateau riddled by
machine gun fire._]

[Illustration: ON BOLANTE PLATEAU.

_The forest laid waste by mine craters and machine gun fire._]

On January 7th, after a half-hearted German attack, which was easily
beaten off, rough trenches were dug on the plateau--in view of a
possible retreat--by men belonging to the 46th French Regiment of
the Line, who worked under heavy fire. General Gouraud, commanding
the 10th Infantry Division, who came to examine the position, was
wounded in the shoulder by a machine-gun bullet. On the following
day a violent German artillery preparation began at dawn. At 7.30
a.m. three regiments of Bavarian chasseurs advanced to the attack.
A trench held by men of the 89th Line Regiment was blown up and the
Bavarians took the first and second lines held by troops of the 89th
and 46th Regiments of the Line, who put up a fierce resistance. On
the plateau the 11th Company of the 46th, which held the unfinished
supporting trench, stopped the rush of the enemy. The Germans,
unwilling to risk a frontal attack, turned the position on the right
flank, and finally took the trench, but only after the gallant
defenders had fired their last cartridges. The Germans penetrated
into the ravine, capturing the regimental headquarters, and wounding
the colonel and his staff. The 11th Company, however, still held
on. On the crest, the cooks and the sick seized rifles and joined
in the fight. At about 9.30 a.m. a blast of trumpets on the right
announced the arrival of reinforcements. Units of the French 89th
Regiment of the Line and 2nd Garibaldian Battalion charged through
the undergrowth. A furious hand-to-hand struggle ensued in the
copse-wood, no quarter being given. The French succeeded in saving
their comrades of the 46th, and checked the enemy, who eventually
evacuated the ravine.


_In the foreground, the road from Paris to Varennes._]

_At Le Four-de-Paris, turn right along G. C. 63 towards La Harazée
and Vienne-le-Château._

The road follows the valley of the Biesme, dominated on the right
by a series of spurs separated by ravines where flow the streams of
Fontaine au Mortier, Fontaine aux Charmes and Fontaine de Madame.

The crests and ravines covered by Grurie Wood were in 1914-1915 the
scene of fierce struggles.

Marie-Thérèse, all these sectors were made famous by communiqués
as the scenes of terrific fights.

[Illustration: LA HARAZÉE.

_The church bell was used as a gas alarm. It was placed on the new
road, between Vienne-le-Château and La Harazée, on the right bank of
the Biesme._]

[Illustration: Map (TN).]

_From La Harazée a path leads to Fontaine-aux-Charmes, following the
stream which falls into the Biesme at La Harazée and to which it
gives its name; another path follows the stream of Fontaine-Madame._

These two streams enclose a plateau broken by ravines along which the
French advanced in September and October 1914, seeking to threaten
the German lines of communication through the Argonne.

The German troops of Von Mudra decided to reach the valley of the
Biesme by penetrating the ravines of Fontaine-aux-Charmes and
Fontaine-Mortier towards La Harazée.

In Grurie Wood, the French line was held by regiments and battalions
of chasseurs of the 32nd Corps. For over a year a desperate struggle
was destined to take place without quarter day and night.

Attacks followed attacks and counter-attacks counter-attacks: every
inch of a devastated area was disputed without truce or rest.


Every day saw the same fearful struggle in the depths of the forest:
the rival trenches were hardly 30 metres apart, sometimes only 10,
protected merely by line of barbed wire which could not be carried
far out nor fixed down. Barricades of sandbags were built up in the
communicating trenches, which often ran through the enemy lines, to
mark the boundary, and, behind these, men kept watch. On each side
the temptation was too strong to pay a surprise visit to this "no
man's land" and to spring into the opposite trench.


The front trenches were blotted out by aerial torpedoes and mine
explosions which completely demolished the frail barricades often
made up of human corpses. Then followed hand-to-hand fighting with
bayonets and knives.

Among the numerous encounters which all resembled each other, here is
the account of one taken from the annals of the 150th Regiment, one
of the gallant regiments of the 32nd Corps.

On April 18th, the 2nd Battalion attacked Bagatelle trench which
was held by the Germans. Our attack, which started at 2 p.m., was
successful and we advanced 80 metres. A German counter-attack
straightway robbed us of the fruits of our effort. At 7 p.m. the 2nd
Battalion again started the attack but were mown down by machine
gun fire. A third attack was launched by the same battalion, only
to be thwarted by a counter-attack. Their fourth effort ended at 11
p.m., with a gain of a yard and a half! Commander Grosset of the 1st
Battalion was mortally wounded.

From April 25th to 27th the Germans unsuccessfully attacked, the
150th not yielding a single inch of ground.

On the evening of May 1st, at 5 p.m., the 3rd Battalion of the 150th
relieved the 2nd Battalion of the 161st. At 5.30 p.m., before the
relief was complete, the Germans blew up one of our block-houses
by means of a mine and hurled themselves upon our trenches. On the
whole front of the 3rd Battalion, the German attack broke out with
ferocity, the enemy artillery firing behind our lines and reaching
an extreme intensity, so that our companies in the front line were
completely cut off. Liaison with the front line became impossible and
no reinforcements could be sent up to the units in the first line

[Illustration: GRURIE WOOD.

_Cooks carrying up soup to the front line trenches (Saint-Hubert

In the centre, the 9th company, commanded by Captain Juge, held on
splendidly against the incessant attacks of the enemy who used liquid
fire and an unlimited supply of bombs. To keep up the supply of
ammunition in the sector was difficult, the 9th company running out
of bombs: their casualties kept mounting and the situation was grave.
Standing upright on the parapet, with his revolver clasped in his
hand, Captain Juge cheered on his men. He fell wounded but got to his
feet again shouting: "Stand your ground, stand your ground, my men,
and be brave". He was wounded again but refused to be taken back to
the rear. This valiant officer continued to keep up the courage of
his men who stood on the exposed ground and fired point blank at the
enemy who were making incessant attacks. Captain Juge was wounded a
third time. By this time the company was reduced to one officer and
23 men, with no bombs and no cartridges. The 10th and 11th companies
counter-attacked, checking slightly, though not stopping, the furious
onslaught of the Germans. Attacked in rear, these two companies after
losing many men were forced to fall back. The 10th, though they had
run out of ammunition, only gave ground inch by inch, building up and
defending nineteen barricades in succession while falling back 100
metres. At every one of the barricades there was furious hand-to-hand
fighting: our men counter-attacked from the parapet with the bayonet
and fought with the butt end of their rifles and thus succeeded in
bringing the enemy advance to a standstill.

On the left, the 12th company held the Germans in check, and though
at one time surrounded, they cut a way through with their bayonets.

At 7 p.m., the Germans attempted a new attack and wrested from us a
second line trench. The 12th company under the command of Lieutenant
de Marolles counter-attacked once more, regaining the lost ground.
Our men snatched sacks of bombs from the hands of the German bombers,
and supplied with these, the grenadiers of the 12th company following
the irresistible lead of their officer, 2nd. Lieutenant Germain, went
forward and captured a machine gun from the enemy after killing the


At 9 p.m. quiet again reigned. Our first line was left entirely
in the enemy's hands, but the second line after being lost and
recaptured, then lost again and again retaken, remained wholly in our

On August 10th, the regiments and battalions of chasseurs of the 32nd
Corps, all included under the command of the 3rd Army, were relieved
by those of the 10th Corps.



_After passing through La Harazée, Vienne-le-Château is reached. Turn
left opposite the church and follow G. C. 67 to Vienne-la-Ville. The
tourist reaches the edge of the Argonne plateau which gives place to
the chalky plains of Champagne._

_For a tour of this region, read the guide entitled_: The Battles of

_Sainte-Menehould, on the Verdun-Paris railway, can be reached, by_
G. C. 67 _and then_ G. C. 17, 15 _kilometres._


_Picture taken from the Guide: "The Battles of Champagne"._]


_Before the attack, the first waves wait for "Zero" in the starting
off trench: in the distance, smoke of the bursting shells used in the
artillery preparation._]

[Illustration: _The first wave has gone over, and has just got into
the first enemy trench from which they are about to start for their
new objective._]

[Illustration: _Parties known as "moppers up" follow the first

[Illustration: _Supporting lines, scattered in the open in small
columns follow the advance. In the foreground some attackers in the
first wave caught by a storm of machine gun fire._]

_Pictures taken from the Guide: The "Battles of Champagne"._


_The tourist can go from Verdun to Metz either by the Route Nationale
No. 3, the Porte Saint-Victor--Haudiomont--Mars-la-Tour and the
battlefields of August 1870 (see page 166), or by the Route
Nationale No. 18 (the Route d'Étain) and R. D. 1._


In 1914 Étain was bombarded on August 24th and 25th. On the 24th many
inhabitants were killed. On the 25th, the inhabitants who took refuge
in the cellars of the town hall perished under the ruins of the
building, but 200 others escaped to Verdun.

On the same day the French forces, north of Étain, crushed the 33rd
German D. R. Nevertheless the order to retire was given and the enemy
occupied the town which they pillaged methodically. Every other day
convoys took back to Germany, furniture, linen, wines, groceries,
cloth, footwear, tools, and even materials.

In April 1915, the French troops came back quite near Étain where the
line was established until February 1916.

In the town, which is partly destroyed, the church, much damaged, can
be seen on the left.

Through the steeple which was cut in two by the bombardments can be
seen the internal structure: the Germans had fitted up an observation
post inside.

Viollet-le-Duc used to consider the church of Étain with its three
naves one of the five noteworthy churches of the Meuse. It was
commenced in the 13th century and finished in the 15th.

The majestic choir, with its large windows with manifold mullions,
was 15th century. Inside (right aisle) could be seen the font and the
Notre-Dame-de-Pitié by Ligier-Richier (_photo page 164_).

[Illustration: ÉTAIN CHURCH IN 1918.--_The Central nave, looking
towards the choir._]

[Illustration: ÉTAIN CHURCH.--_Notre-Dame-de-Pitié, by

SIRÈNE (RUE NATIONALE), _formerly the Crown Prince's Headquarters in

[Illustration: Map of Metz (TN).]

(Cliché LL.)]



The origin of Metz dates back to the Celtic epoch; it was the
capital of the Mediomatrice. The Romans fortified it to defend the
frontiers of the Empire against the Barbarians. Thus Metz became
the starting point of the six great Roman roads which led to the
distant provinces, two roads from Metz to Reims, two roads from Metz
to Treves, one by the right bank, the other by the left bank of the
Moselle: the road from Metz to Strasbourg and the road from Metz to

Being a very rich and densely populated town, it was embellished with
numerous Roman monuments, of which excavations have brought to light
important traces: the _Amphitheatre near the Porte Mazelle_, and
especially the _Aqueduct of Gorze_ dating from the 4th century, which
was 22 kilometres long, bringing to Metz the waters of Gorze. _There
are splendid remains to be seen at_ JOUY-AUX-ARCHES.

The Roman Emperors during their stay at Metz lived in the palace of
the governors which stood on the Place Sainte-Croix.

METZ was captured and devastated by the Huns in 451 A. D.

A half-century later the ruins were restored and the city became,
on the death of Clovis (in 511 A. D.) the capital of Austrasie and
the cradle of the Carolingian branch. Louis-le-Débonnaire was buried
in the Abbey of Saint-Arnout. The treaty of Verdun (843 A. D.) gave
it to Lothaire who made it the capital of his kingdom, Lotharingia,
which became, later on, Lorraine. But thirty years later the treaty
of Mersen (870 A. D.) assigned it to Louis-le-Germanique.

In the name of the Emperor it was first administered by counts and
then by bishops. In 1220, on the death of Count Thiébault, the town
was raised to a kind of republic under the title of "Imperial free
town" and until 1552 was administered by sheriffs.

Under Henry II, the French, lead by Montmorency, occupied the town
after a treaty had been concluded with Maurice de Saxe. The Duc de
Guise, appointed governor, skilfully and energetically defended Metz
to which the Emperor Charles V had laid siege (October 19th, 1552).
On January 1st 1553, Charles V withdrew after losing 30,000 men. The
kings of France for a long time held the title of Protector. Henry
III was the first to be called the sovereign lord. The Parliament of
Metz, constituted in 1633, finally brought about the downfall of its
municipal independence and the treaty of Westphalia (1648) definitely
made it part of France. It became the capital of the province of
Trois-Évêchés, composed of Metz, Toul and Verdun.

Up to the Revolution, METZ escaped the horrors of war, though on
every occasion the town suffered from the consequences. Troops were
continually passing through and the barracks were used as a place of
muster. Turenne, Villars, the Marquis de Créqui, and Marshal Villeroi
encamped within its walls, and at Metz, Louis XV, in August 1744,
fell seriously ill, and the whole of France prayed and fasted for the

In 1790, METZ became the headquarters of the new department of
Moselle. Two sieges in 1814 and 1815 were successfully repulsed.

The year 1870, however, marked a sad date in the history of Metz,
till then nicknamed Metz the Virgin City.

[Illustration: _The French army of Moselle, beaten at the frontiers,
fell back on Metz. Intending to rejoin the army of Mac-Mahon at
Châlons, it began a slow and uncertain retreat. The Germans hindered
this retreat (Borny, August, 14th), crossed the Moselle south of Metz
and stopped the French columns on the march to Verdun. (Rezonville,
Mars-la-Tour, August 16th), narrowed the circle round Metz and
surrounded Bazaire (Gravelotte, Saint-Privat, August 18th.)_]

The battles of Borny (August 14th), Rezonville (August 16th),
Saint-Privat (August 18th) forced Marshal Bazaine to fall back on
the walls of the town. He put up a feeble resistance, being content
to await developments, without even attempting a serious sally which
might have saved his military honour. On October 28th, he put his
name to the capitulation, and on the following day he handed over
173,000 men, 60 generals, 6000 officers, 58 standards, 622 field
guns, 876 heavy guns, 72 machine guns, 137,000 chassepots, 123,000
other rifles and masses of untouched munitions. Six months later,
the treaty of Frankfort (May 10th 1871) ceded to Germany Metz and a
part of the department of Moselle. Metz became the capital of German

Marshal Fabert, Generals Custine, Richepanse and Lasalle, the
composer Ambroise Thomas and the poet Paul Verlaine _were born at

=The fortifications of Metz.=

The situation of METZ destined it to become a stronghold of first
importance. The Romans fortified the town, which had been built
by the Gauls, and constructed the first citadel. The walls were
preserved for a considerable time, and Bishop Robert in the 10th
century, again utilised their outline. It was only in the 12th
century that the new circumvallation was extended to the island
formed by the two arms of the Moselle; it was composed of a high
rampart protected by 68 towers. In 1532 the Duc de Guise ordered the
engineer Pierre Strozzi to restore these fortifications which had
undergone two sieges (1444 and 1552) and were in a pitiable state.
Four years later (1556), Marshal de Vieilleville had a citadel
flanked with four bastions constructed on the site of the ancient
monastery. This citadel (which lasted till 1802) was on the spot now
occupied by the Esplanade.

Vauban, nearly a century later, realised the strategic worth of
Metz and conceived a vast project which the engineer Cormontaigne,
in the 18th century, was to realise. At all events Vauban was able
to construct a "horned redoubt" and to add eleven new bastions to
those which already guarded the citadel, but it was Cormontaigne who
carried out the plan of the inundation of the valley of the Seille,
by using the vast waters of the pool of Lindre.

METZ became one of the most formidable fortresses of Europe. Under
Louis-Philippe the fortifications were entirely remade and in
1866 preparations were in hand to reconstruct them on a new plan
in accordance with the requirements of the then existing military
armament. Of the four separate forts of Saint-Quentin, Plappeville,
Queuleu and Saint-Julien, only the first two were completed in 1870.

[Illustration: METZ.--THE FORT OF SAINT-QUENTIN. _View taken from the
Esplanade._ (Cliché Prillot.)]

The Germans considerably strengthened the wall of circumvallation by
the addition of 19 bastions surrounded with moats, and themselves
protected with 13 advance works. The extent of the zone of forts
reached 30 kilometres and 11 new forts were added.


Before the War the Germans had drawn up their famous "black
lists" in which were recorded numbers of manufacturers, political
men, journalists, priests and members of Lorraine societies. The
inhabitants of Metz were not spared in these lists; many were
arrested on the suspicion of exercising "a provocative action and
a pernicious influence over the population". Among them were M.
Prevel, M. Winsback, secretary of the "Souvenir alsacien-lorrain",
league which was dissolved in 1913; M. Gangloff, whose two sons and
his brother-in-law, as French officers, laid down their lives for
France. Some were able to escape, as occasion offered, and get back
to France, like Paul Piquelle, editor-in-chief of the _Messin_, and
the canon Collin, director of the _Lorrain_.

Before mobilisation had begun or hostilities declared, the "suspects"
were forcibly torn from their families and confined in cells, without
trial, in the military prison of Metz. A few days after they set
out, without saying goodbye to their families, for Coblentz. When
taken to the fort of Ehrenbreitstein they only escaped the frenzy
of an excited populace on account of thirty German bayonets which
surrounded them. Worn out with exhaustion, they were shut up in the
casemates which were used some years before the war for confining to
barracks soldiers undergoing disciplinary punishment and which had
been evacuated under the orders of the authority on account of their
unhealthy condition.

For months they existed in these dungeons under the most deplorable
physical and moral conditions. Some of them, by depositing a surety
of 30,000 marks, left to go and live under a kind of penal regime
in the Prussian Rhineland. The less submissive element stayed where
they were more than two years and were then subjected to the same
regime as their comrades who had already left. They were absolutely
forbidden to enter the fortress of Metz.

These "suspects" never knew the reasons for their arrest until August
1917. Permission to return to their town was given them in November
1918 by the "Soldiers Council" which had replaced the Imperial

Several inhabitants of Metz were promptly seized and drafted into the
units sent up to the front, especially the Russian front. Among them,
one of the brothers Samain, president of the "Lorraine Sportive" was
sent to the French front in the batteries most exposed to danger.
When crippled in the legs he was brought back from the front and
thrown into prison.

The Germans subjected Metz to a regime of terror. The German
inquisition was not confined to the street, but it intruded into the
homes. Everything that reminded them of France, books, sacred family
relics, had to disappear.

Speaking French became a provocation.

To say "Merci, Monsieur" and "Bonjour, Madame" were court-martial
offences at the courts--ordinary and extra-ordinary--which sat
permanently at Metz. Sentences never stopped. All the French
newspapers were suppressed and only the official German papers were

The German authorities instituted an organ, _La Gazette de Lorraine_,
to be modelled on the infamous _Gazette des Ardennes_ and to further
the same purpose, the demoralisation of the French nation. In this
gazette, the Germans carefully published, in the first issues all the
sentences pronounced by the courts-martial, in the hope of terrifying
and cowing the inhabitants of Metz. It was a vain hope: it had the
opposite effect of strengthening their resistance. The system of
spies and informers was widespread under official orders.

A young girl, slily exhibiting surprise at seeing a squadron of
French aeroplanes pass overhead, shouted in front of her house: "Oh
Kolossal!" Denounced by a loyal German woman, she was called before
the court-martial (the first of three appearances).

To the military judges who tried to force her to admit to her
anti-German sentiments, she replied: "My father who was imprisoned
in a fortress is exiled with my mother in Prussia. My two brothers,
French officers, are no doubt dead by this time, and I cannot yet
love Germany". She was set free this time, but a stricter watch was
kept on her.

Orders were given to celebrate the "great German victories". The
"Mutte" of the Cathedral was rung. The Germans noisily showed their
delight on the Esplanade round the statues of the "idols". The mayor,
a noted German naturally, read the bulletin of victory from a window
of the Hôtel de Ville decorated and illuminated.

The inhabitants shut themselves up in their homes. "Though we live
side by side we shall never meet one another", they said. When forced
to fly flags, they hoisted, as far as they could, the decorated
emblem of the cross of Lorraine.

The bombardment of Verdun was audible at Metz and caused much
anxiety. But the people of Metz saw the return of the "feldgrau" who,
once mad with enthusiasm, now had fear in their eyes at the mention
of Verdun.

Russia succumbed. Could they still hope? The most obstinate did not
give up hope and they buoyed up the falling spirits. Pious families
prayed in the churches.

1918.--The inhabitants of Metz felt that the end was near. Hunger
held the German population in its grip, though the natives of Metz
managed, by every known and unknown ruse, to conceal food which
their friends in the country obtained for them almost under the
noses of the police. The allied squadrons of aeroplanes came every
night to bombard the station of Metz-Sablons. Forts thundered, bombs
burst, and munition trains blew up. The Germans proclaimed with loud
shouts the offensive that was to bring peace. At the end of July
the newspapers, which had been extolling the German attack, started
talking about defending themselves.

The people of Metz knew that they were certain of becoming French
again. And now the battle drew near the fortress. With feverish haste
the Germans manned and equipped the forts. Were they to undergo the
devastation of a bombardment? Already American shells were falling
on the south suburb of the town. "At what price shall we buy our
liberty" was the feeling in every heart. Events moved swiftly and at
the same time the iron discipline of the imperial army crumbled. In
the numerous barracks soldiers grumbled, argued and refused to obey

Threatened with an offensive in Lorraine, the Germans ceased holding
some of the defences of the fortress.

The catastrophe was quite near. Mutiny broke out, and lead by the
insurgent sailors who had come from Kiel, a howling mob of soldiers
rushed headlong through the streets, seizing their officers, tearing
their ensigns and smashing their rifles. Council of workmen and
soldiers drove out the imperial government, proclaimed a republic and
hoisted the red flag. The men of Lorraine who had been brigaded in
the German army demobilised themselves and returned to their homes.

The Germans were reduced by all this to a standstill and signed
the armistice. The inhabitants of Metz waited with silent pent up
feelings for their deliverers.

The sad hours were finished and done with: the "wonderful hours of
Freedom" sounded.



=Metz after the signing of the Armistice.=

When the Armistice was signed on November 11th, the American
artillery was within range of the forts of Metz which they had
already bombarded several times, and the troops were all in position
for the offensive fixed for November 16th.

NOVEMBER 19TH, 1918.

_The Place de la République and the corner of the Rue Serpenoise._

(Cliché Prillot, Metz.)]


By the terms of the Armistice, invaded countries, including Alsace
and Lorraine, had to be evacuated by the 26th. So on Tuesday November
19th 1918 the French troops made their solemn entry into Metz,
evacuated by the German soldiery, amid scenes of indescribable


_In the background, the statue of Marshal Fabert; on the right, the

(Cl. Prillot, Metz.)]

Then the march past took place on the Esplanade in front of General
Pétain who was appointed Marshal the same morning.

On a white horse and in his large blue cloak he took up his position
in front of the statue of Marshal Ney: he was supported by General
Fayolle, commanding an army group and General Buat, major-general.

General Mangin, commanding the 10th army, owing to an accident
on his horse, was unable to be present, his place being taken by
General Leconte for the parade. On the same day there took place the
induction of M. Mirman, commissary of the Republic, who was received
by General de Maud'huy, governor of Metz.


_On the Place d'Armes, in front of the Cathedral._ (Cl. Prillot,

Salvos of guns and the sounding of the "Mutte" in the Cathedral
heralded this festal day.

On the following Sunday, November 24th, the chief men of Metz
appointed the new municipal council and decided that the streets
should revert to the names they held before 1870 and that the
new streets should be named after generals and great men who had
distinguished themselves during the War. The list was settled by a
by-law on December 7th.

On Sunday, December 8th, President Poincaré, with a retinue
consisting of the Minister for War, the President of the Council, G.
Clemenceau, the Presidents of the Chambers, Ministers, Marshals and
French and Allied Generals came to announce the definite restoration
to France of the lost provinces.

It was an unforgettable day. Girls in Lorraine costume lined the
streets and flowers were thrown from windows on to the procession.
The review took place in the morning on the Esplanade, and also
the presentation of the star-studded baton to Marshal Pétain. The
ceremony was opened with a speech by the President. Then followed a
touching scene, when M. Poincaré and M. Clemenceau approached each
other and joined in a long embrace.

In the afternoon there was a reception at the Hôtel de Ville when
President Poincaré conjured up all the history of Metz concluding

"The years have passed on Metz, and Metz has not changed.

"The protests which her great Bishop, Mgr Dupont des Loges, used
formerly to carry to the Reichstag in the name of all the people of
Metz, in the name of all the inhabitants of Lorraine, have continued
after his death with the same quiet firmness, you, inhabitants of
Metz, have repealed them, year by year, in your pilgrimages to
Mars-la-Tour, in your visits to the cemeteries, in your worship of
the memory of France.

"Beloved town of Metz, your nightmare is past, here is France back
again opening her arms to you".

The procession was then received with great ceremony by Mgr Fell at
the Cathedral and visited the cemetery of Chambière to pay homage to
the dead of 1870.

On October 27th, 1919, the Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
was bestowed on the town of METZ with the following inscription:

     _Town whose persistent loyally to France never faltered during a
     captivity of 48 years;_

     _Rich in a past glorious and without stain, unsullied by her
     misfortunes, exposed for centuries to the covetousness of a near
     enemy, she has richly deserved to be honoured because she has
     suffered so long._

     _She symbolises, in her deep affection for her Mother country,
     Lorraine, at last wholly restored as a French province._

(DECEMBER 8TH, 1918).

_Behind Marshal Pétain, from left to right: Marshal Joffre, Marshal
Foch, Marshal Douglas Haig, General Pershing, General Gillain,
General Albricci, and General Haller._]


_The cathedral used to finish, on the left, with a Doric porch
erected in the 18th century by Blondel who had in mind a similar
style of architecture for the whole Place d'Armes. The Germans
destroyed this porch in 1903 (See p. 179) and erected in its place a
pseudo-Gothic construction which would undoubtedly have been better
in keeping with the rest of the edifice, had it not been carried out
in a stilted and unskilful manner._]


=The Place d'Armes.=

The =Place d'Armes=, on to which the Cathedral and the Hôtel de Ville
look, is adorned with fine buildings. On this site the cloister of
the Cathedral, the musicians' quarters, several chapels and private
houses used to stand.

In 1753 the Marshal de Belle-Isle, governor, decided that a "Place"
should be made on this spot and that a West door giving access from
the Cathedral to the Place should be constructed.

The plans of the architect Blondel necessitated a lowering of the
ground level.


_on the Place d'Armes_. (Cliché LL.)]

For months and years the canons and sheriffs set themselves against
the work or held it up. During the night of August 9th 1755, M. de
Belle-Isle called together the garrison and by the light of torches,
had the whole work completed: by the morning the excavations were

On the PLACE D'ARMES the statue of Marshal Fabert, by Etex (1840),
stands between military trophies.

The statue of the great Metz captain (1599-1662) who was governor of
Sedan, has only the following words as his inscription:

"If, to prevent a place which the king has entrusted to me falling
into the enemy's hands, I had to throw myself, my family, and all my
possessions into the breach, I would not hesitate for a moment to do

Marshal Fabert, who was as clever an administrator as he was a
magnificent soldier, restored agriculture and commerce in Champagne,
and established at Sedan the manufacture of broadcloth, which till
then belonged to Flanders and the Pays-Bas. King Louis XIV held him
in very high esteem.


_On the left extremity of the cathedral is the pseudo-Gothic porch
built by the Germans (see photograph on p. 179) in the decoration of
which William II is represented as the prophet Daniel (Photo p. 178)._

_In the foreground, on the Place, the statue of Marshal Fabert._
(Cliché LL.)]


_All one side of the Place d'Armes_ is occupied by the CATHEDRAL
SAINT-ÉTIENNE, a masterpiece of the pointed style. The fabric recalls
Amiens and Beauvais. If from the outside it may seem curtailed, the
interior (121 m. long, 22 wide and 43 high), with its resplendent
stained windows, is vast and altogether beautiful.

The most ancient parts of the cathedral do not date back beyond the
13th century.

The nave has eight bays--it was completed in the 14th century; at the
top of the fourth bay it is flanked by two square towers.

The north tower is the tower of the Mutte, so called from the
municipal bell hung there. It is topped with a beautiful spire which
forms an excellent observation post over the surrounding country.

Here was the post of the look-out man who had to report fires. On
the other side of the nave rises the tower of the Chapter which was
finished in 1839. A monumental door opens at the base of each of
these towers.

Another tower, polygonal and smaller, called the Tour de l'Horloge,
is added to the south aisle. On each side of the choir, where
the branches of the transept meet, rise the two small towers of
Charlemagne, so called in memory of those which stood in the Roman
building. They lead by spiral staircases to the outside terraces
which run along the cathedral.

While the nave is 13th century, the transept dates from the 15th, and
the choir, built over a huge sepulchral crypt, is contemporaneous
with the last period of Gothic art.

[Illustration: THE INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL. (Cliché LL.)]

Although completed in 1546, the Cathedral had still to undergo
numerous modifications. Fires caused repairs to be made and then in
1753, by the Governor's orders, Marshal de Belle-Isle, the making of
a "Place" in front of the cathedral necessitated the demolition of
the Bishop's quarters and the construction of a west door.

The ground level was lowered from 8 to 9 feet and the architect J. B.
Blondel was instructed to make out elaborate plans.

They were worked out from 1761 to 1764 and were at once put into
execution and continued with till 1771. While endeavouring to have
regard to the ancient structure, Blondel strove not to make a west
door to the Cathedral but rather to create in front of the cathedral
an independent door, the classic lines of which would blend happily
with the buildings of the "Place" but would contrast with the style
of the edifice (_See page 174_).

In 1791 other alterations were made: following the plans of
Gardeur-Lebrun the rood-loft was done away with, and likewise the
ancient altars and the vaults. Finally the roof which was burnt on
the night of May 6-7th 1877--the day of the entry of William I into
Metz--was replaced in 1880-1882 by a copper roof, raised several

The Doric fore-part of Blondel's design was pulled down in 1903 by
the Germans, to make way for a west door conceived in the style of
the rest of the church. It was not, however, a very happy effort.
At the corners were sculptured statues of the prophets. One of these
statues, that of Daniel, had the face of William II. The inhabitants
of Metz, who had always resented the presence of this effigy at the
entrance to their Cathedral, before the arrival of the French troops,
fastened to its hands a chain from which hung a small board bearing

[Illustration: _William II as the prophet Daniel over the porch
erected by the Germans with The board in his hands commemorating his


It will be replaced by a work of Hanaux, a sculptor of Metz, who was
responsible for the French monument of Noisseville.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL.--_Western façade._ (Cliché LL.)]

(Cliché LL.)]

There is no church which has so much space open to the light. In the
transept and choir it has been calculated that there are 4,071 square
metres of window and it is no exaggeration to say that the whole
structure is like a huge stained-glass window.

Some of these windows date back to the 13th century. The large
rose-window, at the bottom of the nave, which dates from the 16th
century, is the work of the master glass worker Hermann. The windows
of the north transept date from the 15th century. Those of the south
transept, of the choir and the apse, are 16th century.

The bell named "=La Mutte=", which is in the tower of the same name,
did not belong to the church but to the town. The existing bell,
which is rung on all great occasions, was cast in 1505. It weighs
13,000 kilos, so that when it is put in motion, a perceptible swaying
can be fell in the large spire and in the small spires. It bears the
following inscription:

  Dame Mutte suis baptisée,
  De par la Cité ci-posée
  Pour servir à la Cité
  Aux jours de grandes solennités;
  Et aussi pour crier justice,
  Prendre ban de bonne police;
  Les contredire quand bon me semble
  Et pour convoquer gens ensemble.

From the top of the Cathedral tower the best general view is
obtainable of Metz and the country round. One can realise the
importance of its forts round which the Moselle seems to be an
immense moat. On the left bank, the hills fall sheer and are a
natural defence: on the right, the hills are not so high but
are strengthened by a line of forts. Likewise, by seeing them
glistening in the distance, a better idea is gained of the many
streams which encompass or pass through Metz: _the Seille and the
stream of Saint-Pierre, the stream of Noisseville, the stream of
Châtel-Saint-Germain--the Moselle_ which the canal doubles and
which is itself divided, forming in front of Metz the large island
_Saint-Symphorien_, then, near the dam called Wadrineau, the smaller
island of _Saulcy_. At the foot of old Metz flows yet another branch
of the Moselle which divides in two to isolate on an island the
PRÉFECTURE and the THEATRE. Beyond is the large island CHAMBIÈRE,
recognisable by its drill ground and its cemeteries.

=The Hôtel de Ville.=

_After leaving the Cathedral_, THE HÔTEL DE VILLE _is also to be
found in the Place d'Armes._ It was started in 1766 and finished
in 1771. Its style is simple, the façade being ornamented with two
pediments and fine grilles. A porch leads to a beautiful staircase.
Opposite the stairs is to be seen a bas-relief in white marble on
which are engraved the famous line of Ausonius:

  _"Salve magna parens frugumque virumque Mosella" ..._
  _Hail, Moselle, illustrious mother of crops and men!_

Inside there are vast banqueting halls where the public sessions of
the Academy are held. The Academy of Metz was founded in 1760 by
Marshal de Belle-Isle under the title of Royal Society of Letters,
Sciences and Arts and endowed with a sum of £60,000.

It was suppressed at the Revolution and re-formed on March 14th, 1819
with the motto "l'Utile" and obtained from Charles X, on September
5th 1828, the title of Royal Academy. It consists of 36 titular
members and 18 resident members, in addition to 4 honorary members,
correspondents and associates.

The Academy has been largely instrumental in maintaining French
culture in Lorraine during the years of annexation.

On the grand staircase are to be seen three stained-glass windows
put up in 1582: the middle one is the Duc de Guise after the siege
of Metz; the right, the Metz bishop Bertram; the left, the sheriff
Pierre Baudoche.


The flag which floats on its façade is the one previously used in
1870. Carefully preserved in the Carnavalet Museum at Paris, it was
returned to the Mayor by the vice-president of the Paris municipal
council on December 25th, 1918.

[Illustration: STATUE OF THE VIRGIN.

T. Martin, Sculptor. (Photo. Prillot, Metz.)]

_On leaving the Hôtel de Ville, take, to the left of the Place
d'Armes, the Rue Fabert (see, on left, the statue of the Virgin),
then the Rue des Clercs which is a continuation of it. Coming to
the bottom of the Rue des Clercs, on the left is the Place de la
République, and on the right the Esplanade._

The magnificent space of =the Esplanade= was used as a parade ground
for the garrison troops.

STATUE OF MARSHAL NEY. (Cliché Prillot, Metz.)]


Ney, Duc d'Elchingen, prince of the Moskwa, was born at Sarrelouis.
He is depicted with his rifle in his hand, ready to fire (_Photo p.

_Next, go to the end of the Esplanade, beyond the music kiosk, on
the terrace_: there is a magnificent view over Saint-Quentin Hill
and Fort, Plappeville fort and the Moselle. The ISLAND OF SAULCY and
POUDRIÈRE exactly opposite will also be seen.

[Illustration: THE STATUE OF THE "POILU" IN 1918,

_erected on the pedestal on which William I used to stand._ (Cliché
Prillot, Metz.)]

On this terrace used to stand the bronze statue of William I on
horseback (1892). The inscription on the pedestal used to state that
the statue had been erected to the Emperor "by his grateful people".
The conqueror pointed with his finger to Moselle and the powerful
forts of Plappeville and Saint-Quentin which protect the town.
William I was knocked down headlong some days before the entry of the
French (_Photo opposite_).

[Illustration: THE WALK ALONG THE MOSELLE. (Cliché LL.)]

In place of William, a statue "to the victorious poilu" was erected
during the night of January 6-7th with the inscription: "We've beaten
them". This was done as a pleasant surprise for Marshal Pétain who
was coming on the following day to present colours to 16 regiments,
and to confer decorations on several officers and men. This statue
was made in seven days in a workshop of Metz by the sculptor Bouchard.

The PALAIS DE JUSTICE, built in 1776, _looks out on to the
Esplanade_. On its site formerly rose the Hôtel de la Haute-Pierre,
which belonged to the Duke of Suffolk, lover of Queen Mary of
England. He had it pulled down, and built, in a year and six months,
the beautiful "Hôtel de Suffolk", which for a long while was used
as the town hall. Finally, in 1776, Clairisseaux built the existing
palace. _The following should be seen_: the iron banisters of the
great staircase, and, in the interior court, two bas-reliefs, one
commemorating the humanity of the Duc de Guise in assisting the
soldiers of the Duc d'Albe after the siege had been raised; the other
commemorating the peace of 1783 concluded between England, France,
Spain, United States of America and Holland. Behind the Palais de
Justice stands the beautiful equestrian statue of Lafayette.

_Return to the Place de la République and turn right along the
Avenue de la Citadelle which separates the Esplanade from the Place
de la République. Follow this road, which presently passes, on the
left, the Engineers' barracks and then a garden._

[Illustration: STATUE OF LAFAYETTE (Cliché Prillot.)]

_After passing the garden, turn left into the Avenue du
Maréchal-Joffre which leads to the Place du Roi-George (in front of
the former station)._

_Not far from the Place_, a round tower _is visible_, the remains of
ramparts of the Middle Ages. _Leave the old station behind you and
go alongside the gardens by the Avenue Serpenoise which follows the
tramway; immediately to the left is the_ PORTE SERPENOISE (1852).


[Illustration: THE MONUMENT OF DÉROULÈDE. (Cliché Prillot.)

_On the right of the Porte Serpenoise stands the statue of Déroulède.
To the right extend the modern quarters, with the General Post Office
and the Station of Neo-Roman style in very questionable taste._]

[Illustration: THE GENERAL POST OFFICE. (Cliché Prillot.)]

[Illustration: THE CENTRAL STATION. (Cliché Prillot.)]

[Illustration: THE RUE SERPENOISE. (Cliché Prillot.)]


_Beyond the Place de la République, follow the Rue Serpenoise which
is a continuation of the avenue._ It is the busiest street in Metz.
_It is further continued by the Rue Ladoucette which leads to the Rue

_Keep right along the Rue Fournirue and then still right along the
Rue du Change to reach the Place Saint-Louis._

The =Place Saint-Louis= or du Change was formerly occupied by
sixty stalls of money-changers. Some of the houses in the "Place"
have preserved their battlements, their pointed or semi-circular
arches and their three-cusped casements as well as some Renaissance
balconies. This name of Saint-Louis comes from a statue of Louis
XIII, found in the ruins of the citadel and converted by the priest
of Saint-Simplice into a Louis IX. Mystery plays were acted in the
"Place". It was then used for the executions of criminals and after
that a corn market.

_At the far end of the "Place" take the Rue Royale and then turn left
into the Rue Coislin which runs alongside the Coislin barracks (plan



_View taken from the Quai des Allemands._]

_At the bottom of the Rue Coislin take the Rue Pont-à-Seille which
leads to the Place des Charrons, then at the end of the Place, the
Rue du Grand-Wad leading to the_ RAMPART DES ALLEMANDS _and continue
left as far as the_ =Porte des Allemands.=

The PORTE DES ALLEMANDS, on the Seille, is a remarkable edifice.

It is mentioned as far back as 1324. In the 15th century it was
entirely restored by the architect Henri de Banceval.



_Opposite the_ =Porte des Allemands,= _take the Rue des Allemands_
(_see the interesting_ CHURCH OF SAINT-EUCAIRE _on the right) and
continue to the Place des Paraiges._

_At the end of the Place, turn right along the Rue Saulnerie and its
continuation on the left, the Rue du Paradis leading into the Rue des
Capucins. At the end of the latter is the Place des Maréchaux where
is_ SAINTE-SÉGOLÈNE CHURCH, built on the site of an oratory founded
by Saint Segolene in the 7th century. The present church, built at
two different periods (the choirs, the nave and the doorway are
earlier than the aisles) dates back to somewhere in the 13th century.
The long and narrow windows are mostly in pairs and with a spear-head
finish. The side chapels contain beautiful stained-glass windows
and there is a curious openwork gallery in the organ-loft and some
interesting pictures.

_Turn left and take the Rue des Trinitaires, passing an old building
with square turrets, near a gateway_ "Hostel Saint-Ligier". _Then
turn right into the Rue de la Bibliothèque._

_In this street is situated, at the corner of the Rue Chèvremont_,
a huge building, formerly the church of Petits-Carmes, the work
of Sébastien Leclerc, which includes both the =Library= (80,000
volumes and 1,987 manuscripts) and the =Museum= (collections of
local archaeology, natural history, objets d'arts, and three picture

_At the Museum, take the Rue Chèvremont which ends at the Rue
de la Boucherie, into which turn left and so reach the_ =Pont
Saint-Georges,= _over the Moselle._

_Cross this bridge from which there is a beautiful view (Photo page
190), and enter the Rue du Pont-Saint-Georges. Immediately to the
right branches off the Rue Chambière leading to the_ =Chambière
Cemetery= where are the graves of the French soldiers who fell
during the siege of 1870.

(Cliché LL.)]

_The road runs between the vast slaughterhouse, the cattle market and
the huts used as an army storehouse. An old cemetery is crossed with
some monumental tombs standing in the midst, and then by skirting
the Israelite cemetery and the Moselle the_ =military cemetery= _is

There are plain tombs under bushy trees. In the centre is a tall
pyramid 12 m. high; all the base is represented by numerous coffins
piled on each other. There rest the soldiers who died in the
hospitals of Metz from wounds received at the battles of Borny,
Gravelotte, Saint-Privat, Servigny, Pletre and Ladonchamps. There are
7,203 in all.

Wreathes, tri-coloured cockades, and ribbons have never ceased, for
48 years, to adorn these graves which the ladies of Metz piously
decorate with flowers every anniversary.

_Return by the same route to the Rue du Pont-Saint-Georges. The Rue
Vincentrue is soon reached on the left and should be taken._

_Then turn right into the Rue des Bénédictins._

_Apply, at No. 7 in this street, to visit the_ =Church of

It was started in 1668. The choir, the nave and the aisle were begun
in 1680 by the Italian, Spinga. The West door was damaged in the
Revolution. The church is now part of the College founded by the
Jesuits, where Marshal Foch began his education.

_Return to the Rue des Bénédictins and continue along it until the
Rue Saint-Vincent is reached on the left, leading to the "Place"
of the same name, on which stands the remarkable_ =Church of
Saint-Vincent= _built in 1248._

The straight-built nave supported by 12 small-columned pillars, the
very regular choir, and the beautiful ogival chapels should certainly
be seen.

_Continue along the Rue Saint-Vincent on the other side of the
"Place". The Rue Saint-Marcel, which is its continuation, leads to
the Rue du Pont-à-Morts which should be followed to the left._

_Cross the Moselle by the Pont-Moyen_ (pretty view). _Follow the Rue
Sainte-Marie which follows the bridge and then turn left along the
Rue du Faisan leading to the small and charming_ PLACE DE CHAMBRE.


_From the_ PLACE DE CHAMBRE _return to the_ CATHEDRAL _and the_ PLACE
D'ARMES _by the little Rue d'Estrées._

ISLAND. (Cliché LL.)]



  Avocourt and Wood,                 120


  Bayonet Trench,                     98
  Bras,                              105


  Charny,                            108
  Chattancourt,                      110
  Col de Pommerieux,                 119
  Combres,                           135
  Corbeaux (Wood),                   115
  Cumières,                          109


  Dame Ravine,                       102
  Dombasle,                          123
    Mortuary,                         96
    Fort,                             88
    Village,                          95


  Éparges,                           129
  Esnes,                             102
  Étain,                      125 to 127


  Fleury,                             85
  Fresnes-en-Woëvre,                 124


  Haie Renard,                        81
  Haudromont (Quarries),             102
  Helly Ravine,                      103
  Hill 304,                          118


  La Harazée,                        156
  La Haute-Chevauchée,               152
  Le Four-de-Paris,                  156


  Montfaucon,                        139
  Malancourt,                        140
  Marre (fort),                      107
  Metz,                       165 to 191
  Mort-Homme,                        112


  Oie Hill,                          190


  Poivre Hill,                       104


  Romagne,                           142


  Sacred Way,                        122
  Saint-Rémy,                        128
  Souville (fort),                    76


  Tavannes (fort),                    64
  -- (tunnel),                        65
  Thiaumont,                          86
  Tranchée de Calonne,               125
  Trésauvaux,                        135


  Vacherauville (f),                 107
  Vauquois,                          145
  Vaux (fort),                        67
  -- (pool),                          83
  Verdun,                       51 to 59
  Varennes,                          151
  Voie Sacrée,                       122

[Illustration: TWO "POILUS" OF VAUQUOIS.]

1-4-932-5-258--R. C. nº 2.213 Clermont-Ferrand--Printed in France.


[Illustration: The Michelin Road Map

  of France in 36 sheets.
  Scale 1:200,000 or 3.15 miles to the inch.

  Note on
  the key-map the
  sheet numbers you require
  (Verdun No. 57)]

[Illustration: The Michelin Road Map

  of Great Britain and Ireland
  in 24 sheets.

  Scale: 3.15 miles to the inch.

  On sale at all Booksellers and Michelin Stockists and Agents.]

The Michelin Road Map

is the cheapest and the most practical

[Illustration: It opens like a book,]

without risk of tearing in the wind

[Illustration: as occurs frequently with other Maps when unfolded.]

The Michelin map is on sale at all

Booksellers, Michelin Stockists and Agents.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious printer's errors have been corrected.

Hyphenation and accentuation have been standardised; all other
inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling
has been maintained.

Other changes made:

  --"Under the command of General Guerin" to
    "Under the command of General Guérin"

  --"Gallvitz" and "Galwitz" to "Gallwitz".

  --"the canal that runs parelled" to
    "the canal that runs parallel"

Illustrations' captions with (TN) have been added while transcribing
this book.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Verdun Argonne-Metz 1914-1918 - Michelin's Illustrated Guides to the Battle-fields (1914-1918)" ***

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