1914 Trench, Tranchée de Calonne

The Tranchée de Calonne, despite it’s name, was not actually a trench: tranchée being the French for trench. Instead it was a long road running for more than 25km through the wooded area south-east of Verdun into what became known as the Saint Mihiel Salient.

The area saw heavy fighting from September 1914 and some of the earliest trenches used by the French Army were dug among the trees here. French writer Alain Fournier was killed in this sector during this period and close to where his body was found in 1991 is an area of early war trenches, including the 1914 trench pictured here. These early war positions are sometimes more obvious to spot among the mass of surface archaeology of the Great War in areas like this as the trenches are usually a lot simpler. In this case it is a straight trench leading to an area where small firing pits were scattered, once facing the German lines. Each pit looked like it had two Poilus in it, with their rifles and kit.

This photograph also shows how difficult it is to capture the remains of trenches in a modern image, especially in an area with heavy tree coverage and for much of the year covered with leaves.

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