Montfaucon American Monument

Montfaucon, a little village on top of a hill, was occupied by the german troops in September 1914. It got one of the biggest observation points in the Argonne.

From the hill the horizon is going from the Argonne towards the heights from the Meuse.

Huge concrete observation posts got build into the ruins of the village. In 1918 the german high command changed the defense tactic from fixed positions to an elastic defense. This forefield tactic made Montfaucon integrated in the second defence line of the Etzel-Stellung. The heights of Monfaucon got the important connection between the Argonne and the Meuse heights.

 

 

Lost Battalion

Not far away from Binarville near Sainte-Ménéhould was the place called Charlepaux-Mill, where US units got surrounded by german troops from 02 – 08. October 1918 during the Meuse Argonne Offensive.

You will find the long story here.

 

 The US troops which got involved were:

308th Infantry Regiment:

A,B,C,E,G,H Companies

307th Infantry Regiment:

K Company

306th Machinegun Battalion:

C, D Companies

 

On german side:

Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 252 (Darmstadt) – 76. Reserve Division

Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 254 (Darmstadt) – 76. Reserve Division

Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment 83 (Kassel) – 9. Landwehr Division

Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment 122 (Ulm) – 2. Landwehr Division

Reserve-Pionier-Kompanie 76 (Kehl) – 76. Reserve Division

With the first look the place looks totally different today then 100 years ago. That is why we try to explain the original cirumstances. Driving in summer 1918 from Binarville towards Charlepaux-Mill, you passed by several german camps.

 In the first place south of the road were the offshots of Mudra-Lager (Lager~camp), following the Pionier-Lager and then the Charlepaux-Lager. The Nortwest- or Minenwerfer-Lager could be found north of the road. Both camps have been equipped with a connection to the narrow gauge railways in direction to Toter-Mann-Mühle, Binarville and to the hub at Hindenburg-Mühle (Lancon).

Going south there are a lot of small valleys, sunken roads and downcuttings, which enables a unnoticed advance and makes it difficult to secure the area.

 Down the valley the visitor gets over the bridge from the Ruisseau des Bièvres. On the right side is the monument for the Lost Batallion. It is dedicated to the 687 US Servicemen, which fought surrounded by german troops under the command of Lt. Colonel Charles Whittlesey, from which only 194 survived.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ponds on the right side of the road were belonging to Charlepaux-Mill. Direct behind the monument was the station of the narrow gauge railway Charlepaux-Mill. The railway track was going south to the stations Tafelland, Lager Toter-Mann-Mühle and further south.

Charlevaux   Bhf Charlepeaux
Charlepaux-Mill   Station-Charlepeaux
     
Minenwerfer-Lager_01    
Minenwerfer-Lager    

Other railway installations and buildings have been on the left side of the road,  as well as storage siding.

 

Place of the monument

 
 
 
 

 

A memorial stone stands next to the road, where the sourrounded troops have been. There, only little can be seen today. In the US reports there is quite often a reference to the Giselher-Position. This was the Argonnenriegel (blocking position) further south. This position was planned with dugouts, concret shelters and field guards for protection. But most of this things existed only on paper. A lot of dugouts were only started, but never finished. There are only some concrete shelters north of Toter-Mann-Mühle, in the area of Landwehr Infanterie Regiment 122  (2nd Landwehr Division).

 

The Kaisertunnel

The Kaisertunnel was created by Infanterie-Regiment 173 (St. Avold, Metz) in early 1916. From “Südgrund” to the north, a 300 m long liason tunnel, got digged through the Crownprince-height. The german soldiers gave him the name “Kaisertunnel”. In march 1916 the Germans started to construct kitchens in the tunnel which was finished in April 1916. Later they added a cistern, a first aid post and a generator room.

 

 

The Kaisertunnel is in charge of the tourist information:

Office de tourisme du Pays d’Argonne

6, place de la République

55120 Clermont-en-Argonne

Tel: +33 (0)3 29 88 42 22

Fax: +33 (0)3 29 88 42 43

 

Opening hours:

At the moment the Kaisertunnel is not open to public.

 

Height 285 / Haute Chevauchée

After the July attack of the german troops in the Argonne, the new position got created on the crest of the height 285. This new position got very quickly characterized by the underground mine war. These mine attacks should primarily open a gap in the enemy position to support the following infanty attack.

On the parking you can already see some information tables where the historical trails starts.

 

 

After a few steps you will reach the monument for death french soldiers in the Argonne and their allies (Czechoslovakia, Italy, Slowenia and USA), which fought there as well. In the monument is a small charnel hous (Ossuaire) included. Behind the monument there is the big mine crater from December 12th, 1916, when the german miners blew up 52500 kg exlosive. This was the biggest mine explosion on the western front in First WordWar.

 

A high cross can be seen on the other side of the crater for all fallen comrades in the Argonne. This high cross was erected by french engineers and german tankers from 4./Panzerbataillon 144 of Coblenz.
Behind the high cross is a little path which continous to the historical trail. The duration of the trais is 30 minutes. The path will bring you in front of the Kaisertunnel.