Les Crapouillots was a satirical magazine during the Great War and also the name given to the Trench Mortar branch of the French Army by the Poilus in the trenches. This memorial in the village of Laffaux in the battlefields between Soissons and the Chemin des Dames commemorates 12,000 men of the unit who died on the Western Front. Constructed in the 1930s it was badly damaged in May 1940 during the… Read More
The village of Sommepy in the Champagne battlefields was behind the German front line for most of the war until the ruins of it were taken by American troops from the American Expeditionary Force in September 1918. This archway, which was once part of the entrance to a large chateau, is the only remaining structure from the pre-1914 days still standing in the village. It is peppered with shell impact marks and… Read More
The sight of front-line barbed wire remains a powerful image of the Great War. In the early stage of the war the use of so-called ‘Chevaux de Frise‘ (or knife-rests as they were known by the British) enabled soldiers to prepare barbed wire defences behind the lines and bring them up, putting them in place at night. Being portable they could also be moved. Few survive intact but this section is part of… Read More
Small French battlefield cemeteries are rarer than the British ones on the Western Front as most battlefield cemeteries were concentrated into larger burial grounds in the 1920s. This small battlefield cemetery is close to the village of Chavannes les Grands in the Vosges and commemorates men from a French regiment who fought here in August 1914. Buried here are Lieutenant Paul Genairon and his comrades of the 260th Regiment of Infantry. On… Read More
When the Great War went static during the winter of 1914/15 and trench warfare began, steel “sniper’s plates” started to be used by both sides to afford protection to their troops and enable them to fire safely across No Man’s Land. There were many designs of these and some just had a hole to fire through, while others used a ‘key-hole’ system so that the protected area could be sealed up again… Read More
The Ouvrage Froideterre was part of the defences built around Verdun in the late 1880s. It was added to a number of times before WW1 and then re-organised when the war started in 1914. The position was defended by two twin machine-gun bunkers and a 75mm turret (seen above) along with a 75mm Bourges casemate. The position saw heavy fighting in 1916 and the ground around it smashed to pieces by shell-fire…. Read More
By the close of the Great War the French Army had lost more than 1.4 million dead: their burials are scattered across more than 350 mile of the Western Front occupied by French forces. In the Department of the Aisne the cemeteries are very evident between Soissons and Reims, and this one at Braine, taken in early evening light on a bright March day, commemorates the dead from operations on the Aisne… Read More
The trenches of the Western Front were protected by barbed wire – The Devil’s Rope – from early on in the war. This section of preserved barbed wire is in front of a French trench on the Champagne battlefields where heavy fighting took place in September 1915. Taken on a Nikon D7000 at the end of a bright spring day.
The village war memorial in Thiaucourt-Regniéville bears a striking bronze showing a soldier of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) shaking hands with a French soldier, a Poilu. This recalls the occasion during the fighting for the St Mihiel Salient in 1918 when Americans and Frenchmen fought side by side. The War Memorial shows sign of battle damage from the fighting in this area in 1940 and 1944.