The Argonne hills were the scene of terrifying “Mine Warfare”. The village of Vauquois, which was razed to the ground by the fighting, the “Kaiser Tunnel”, the underground galleries and the pillboxes were part of everyday life for the German, American and French soldiers who suffered four years of horror here.
Just under a century ago, more than two million American soldiers were in France fighting in battles whose names can still send a shudder down the spine. With its 14,256 crosses, the cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon is the largest American military cemetery in Europe. Such a place is Meuse-Argonne.
What's astonishing when you travel to these battlegrounds is how much remains on, or just below. Still today can be seen many craters, trenches and tunnels, striking witnesses to those events, even after over one hundred years.
The Battle of Verdun (February to December 1916) was a ten month long ordeal between the French and German armies, and no strategic advantages were gained for either side. The estimated casualties are 540,000 men for France (including 163,000 deaths) and 430,000 men for Germany (143,000 deaths). The Battle of Verdun is considered to be one of the most brutal events of World War I, and the site itself is remembered as the "battlefield with the highest density of dead per square yard."
The bloodiest day in the history of the British Army is still the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. One purpose of the battle was to draw German forces from Verdun 180 miles to the east.
As the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in History, the battlefields of Verdun bear the traces of the bitter fighting that took place here between 1914 and 1918. In the fortified sector around Verdun, Fort Vaux and Fort Douaumont, the Bayonets’ Trench, the razed Villages, the Verdun Memorial and the Douaumont Ossuary all serve as memorials to the terrible battle fought here in 1916. The open-air museum also gives a view of the battle sites, from a signposted path running through the red zone. Alongside this path you'll find block houses, trenches, tunnels and underground shelters, but also wild orchids which thrive next to the water filled shell holes!
World War II 1939-1945
The RN3 (D603) which leads to our B&B is incidentally part of the Voie de la Liberté, the Liberty Highway marking the US Third Army's advance through France and Belgium of 1944, and distinctive kilometer marker posts can be seen at the roadside.