Unknown soldier

Red bar
home

Timeline

4 September 1914, Vauquois captured by Germans during the "war of movement" (la guerre de mouvement) when the French residents of the town and the 82nd infantry regiment retreat.

15 September 1914, retaken by the French 9th infantry division of the 3rd army after the Battle of the Marne. Germans had pulled back expecting a French offensive in the area.

24 September 1914, Germans recapture Vauquois. When the expected French attack failed to materialize, the Germans launched a general offensive on the 22nd. The German 33rd infantry division seized the butte after a fierce artillery preparation (Hermann Hoppe, In Stellung nach Vauquois, pp. 17-18). There is no immediate French counter-attack. It is an important strategic position because its height dominated the main supply route to the French city and fortifications of Verdun.

28 and 29 October 1914, French attacks fail to retake the ridge with attacks that are preceded with little or very little artillery preparation..

8 and 9 December, French attacks by the 9th infantry division again fail to retakes the butte. Better artillery preparations this time.

January 1915, first mining operations begun by the German 30th Pioneer Battalion.

17 February 1915, elements of the 31st French infantry regiment attack unsuccessfully. Some French did make it to Vauquois but were pushed back by German counter-attack. Mines exploded by the French before the attack were not close enough to the German positions.

27 February 1915, attack by the French 46th and 89th infantry regiments briefly reaches the village, but the men are unable to hold the position.

1 March 1915, the French 31st and 89th infantry regiments (from the west) and the 46th (from the east) capture a portion at the southern edge of the village and are able to hold a line despite fierce German counter-attacks and French attacks through the month of March. The situation stabilized with the Germans to the north and the French to the south of the crest of the ridge.

5/6 April 1915, French renewed assault. In April, these were the last major infantry attacks on the butte until September 1918. Both sides shifted to mining operations. Use of artillery, grenades, mortars, mines, spot assaults did continue though.

5 April 1915, Hermann Hoppe (In Stellung nach Vauquois, p. 76), describes his first view of Vauquois: “Only a small wall of the church was left, the only one still standing in the entire village. A bell lay in the middle of a trench. Pieces from church chairs, house appliances, tombstones, skeletons, that had been thrown out of the graveyard from grenades, everything lay scattered around in a mess. The only living things that were still wandering around were two cats that couldn’t leave what remained of their previous house.”

6 June 1915, a brigade of firefighters from Paris experimented with a kind of flamethrower, projecting a volatile liquid at the Germans and then igniting it with incendiary grenades, but a German ammunition supply exploded, and the wind picked up, throwing much of the burning liquid back onto the French. The attack failed.

3 March 1916, a large German mine with almost 4,000 kg. of explosives detonated at the east end of the butte.

23 March 1916, the French exploded a mine of about 10,000 kg of explosives under the German fortifications near the church.

14 May 1916, at 1800, the Germans set off 60,000 kg of explosives on the west side of the village, approximately under the French second line of trenches. This was the largest mine to be detonated on the butte, and it destroyed and buried part of the first and second French trenches. It created a massive crater more than 25 meters deep and 100 meters wide.

5 June 1916, French explosion of about 6500 kg

10 December 1916, German explosion

27 March 1917, German explosion

20 May 1917, French explosion

end of March 1918, last French explosion

end of April 1918, last German explosion

May-June 1918, Italian troops relieved the French. Later the Italians are, in turn, relieved by the Americans.

26 September 1918, soldiers of the US 35th infantry division advance to the east and west of the butte and then completely occupy it; there is little German resistance; there is no village left.