Bloody Battlefield: Morhange 1914

A century ago today the Battle of Morhange saw the start of one of the bloodiest periods of the war for France, now largely forgotten, especially outside of France. Morhange was in Lorraine and was in a region annexed by the new nation of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Therefore Morhange was in Germany in 1914 and called Mörchingen. In the fighting here on 20th August 1914 the French lost more than 5,000 men, but it was just the start of a very dark period leading up to the blackest day on 22nd August 1914 when more than 22,000 French soldiers were killed in one day. By the close of the year the French had lost more than 300,000 killed on the battlefield; nearly a fifth of the total losses for the whole war in just the first few months.

This battlefield cemetery near the village of Oron, close to Morhange, is typical of those from this period of the war. It is a mass grave of men from two different regiments who fell here, in the fields beyond the cemetery on 20th August 1914. The number of officers buried here are noticeable, including a battalion commander. The cemetery is proudly maintained and honoured by the local population and today around Morhange a number of centenary events are planned the following weekend.

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