Description: The battle of Vauquois is a battle of the First World War on the Western Front. It lasted almost the entire duration of the conflict and took place on the mound Vauquois, height of the Meuse, 25 km northeast of Verdun. It is one example of the "mine war" in this conflict where underground tunnels ( "mines") were dug under enemy lines, filled with explosives that were detonated.
The Battle :
The small village of Vauquois was located on a hill 290 meters high, which dominates the surrounding plains over 130 meters, the mass of the Argonne West Shelf of Woëvre east From August to September 1914, during the war of movement, the village was captured by the Germans on September 3, taken by the French lost again on 15 and 24 The Germans then fortified position. The 28 and 29 October 1924, French troops, without artillery preparation beforehand, tried to regain the position but both times were swept by German machine guns.
Located west of Verdun, the hill became a strategic point in the stabilization of the front at the end of 1914. Natural observation post on the surrounding area, it allowed the adjustment of artillery fire.
On 18 and 28 February 1915, the 31st Infantry Regiment resumed but the village must be evacuated under shelling from German artillery. In early March the frontline will freeze at the height of the mound, on both sides of the ruined village. Both sides will then be buried, digging trenches and shelters as well as galleries around the mound. The fighting area will become more sporadic.
April 1915 marks the beginning of the mine warfare, with an initial advantage to the French. Narrow tunnels were dug under enemy lines and boxes filled with explosives. Over time, digging ever deeper into the basement of the hill, the gaize a siliceous rock composed of fossilized remnants. In April 1916, a first large German mine exploded in the east of the hill killing 11 French soldiers.
The French retort March 23 by blowing up under the German fortified position of the church, 12 tons of explosives killing 30 men. On May 14 the Germans detonated a mine west containing 60 tons of explosives destroyed and buried part of the 1st and 2nd lines and 108 French soldiers. The explosion will be felt several miles away and dig a crater more than 25 meters deep and 100 meters wide. This will be the most powerful explosion of the battle. The following months will see the explosion of mines, but other smaller scale. In each camp, we monitor the undermining of the opponent, or cons slap-mines are dug. Accidents are also numerous during the digging of tunnels in a mound weakened by the many mine explosions or during transportation of explosives in the narrow trenches.
In both camps, the idea germinated in 1917, purely and simply shave off the mound. The French plan to dig three pits at -40 meters deep and fill them with 140 tons of explosives but the project was abandoned for lack of sufficient manpower. The Germans plan to dig them 3 galleries at -100 meters. The project was abandoned in March 1918 while the galleries are almost completed.
The interior of the mound and include several levels over 17 km of wells, tunnels and branches
In total, over 520 underground explosions occurred at Vauquois (320 French and 199 German using over 1,000 tons of explosives. In April 1918, the mine warfare continues in a mound whose strategic interest has largely declined. In May-June 1918, Italian troops are the French troops, until the American troops who arrived September 26, 1918. An Allied artillery shelling destroyed many entries galleries and the mound was taken after fierce resistance from a small garrison of the German Imperial Guard.
The Battle of Vauquois was one of the longest of the First World War. South of the hill, the cemetery National Maize contains 4368 French soldiers killed during the battle (those Vauquois). To the north of the Soldaten Friedhof Cheppy welcomes German soldiers, mainly XVI Armee Korps Metz.
The brigade of firefighters in Paris there experimented on 6 June 1915 flamethrowers, first use of such weapons by the French army. But due to lack of experience and a headwind, this attempt failed.
After the war the village was completely destroyed during these four years of war. At the point where he was a deep trench, still visible today, created by the mine craters cut the top of the hill. Although the site was classified as red zone after the war because of corpses and ammunition buried in the site, residents are relocated and rebuilt a new but smaller village at the foot of the hill, supported by General Deprez, from the town and the town of Orleans, became patron of the new village. A monument was built next to French ( "For the dead combatants and Vauquois") in 1925. The site is maintained by an association and is open to the public. Visits to galleries are also organized.
The hump is classified a historical monument.
People who fought at Vauquois:
Henri Collignon (1856-1915), prefect and former Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, volunteer as a private at age 58, killed in combat Vauquois. A terminal at the bottom of the hill was erected in his memory.
Pézard André (1893-1984), translator and professor Italianist, fought to Vauquois he testified in a book, We Vauquois others.
Auguste Chaillou (1866-1915), physician and former researcher at the Pasteur Institute, killed in combat Vauquois.
During the Meuse-Argonne offensive of September and October 1918 in which participated the American Expeditionary Force:
Harry S Truman (1884-1972), President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, an officer in the Missouri National Guard and commanding an artillery battery which attacked the American sector of Vauquois in September 1918 .
George Patton (1885-1945), then a lieutenant colonel at the head of the Armored Corps of the American Expeditionary Force. He attacked in the area of Vauquois increasing its tanks near the mound.