PIERRE's PHOTO IMPRESSIONS of the WESTERN FRONT
1914-1918
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              Pierre Grande Guerre
              shows his
              photo impressions
              of his trips along
              the Western Front
              with his selfmade photo's,
              historic pictures,
              and maps.
              Few words,
              many pictures,
              and many links.
               
              Pierre
               
               
              Warning: Sometimes on the battlefield
              you will still find relics of explosives.
              All these shells, hand grenades, and
              mortar rounds can even nowadays still
              be very dangerous.
              Some of the artillery bombs may contain
              poison gas, which can cause severe
              blistering or worse injuries.
              In France it is by law forbidden to
              remove relics from the battlefield.
              So, it is for your own safety:
              take a picture of the steel harvest,
              but leave these relics untouched!
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              Pierre is a Dutch member
              of the Canadian
              Central Ontario Branch
              of the Western Front
              Association,
              In 2015 awarded with
              a lifetime membership!
               
              And a member of:
               
               
              The Western Front
              Association Nederland
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              LINKS TO THE SPECIAL

              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS

              NEW! Pierre's Illustrated

              Lecture "Verdun 1916" - (Dutch)

              Pierre's illustrated

              WFA-NL lectures:

              The Tactical Significance 

               of General Gaede - (Bilingual)

              The Difficult Start

              of the L.I.R. 123 - (Eng)

              De Moeizame Start van

              het L.I.R. 123 - (Dutch)

              De Rode Duivels

              op de Hartmannswillerkopf (Dutch)

              De Blauwe Duivels

              in de Vogezen (Dutch)

              Botchkareva en haar

              Vrouwenbataljon (Dutch)

              Mata Hari -

              Het Spionagedossier (Dutch)

              More Special

              Photo Impressions

              of the Western Front (English) 

              Armistice Clearing Compiègne

              Kaiser's Exile Huis Doorn

              Cambrai

              Fort de Mutzig - Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II

              Colmar and Hansi, the Illustrator 

              The Red Baron's Crash Site

              Canadian National Vimy Memorial

              SOMME 1918 The Australians

              Fricourt Archeological Excavations

              Traces of Bairnsfather  - Xmas Truce

              Yorkshire Trench and Dugout

              Bayernwald Trenches Inside 

              LINKS TO ALL
              BATTLEFIELD
              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS
              in the CORRECT SEQUENCE

              AISNE 

              Chemin des Dames part 1 

              Chemin des Dames part 2 - Dragon's Cave

              Chemin des Dames part 3     

              ALSACE LORRAINE

              The Gap of Charmes - La Trouée de C.

              Avricourt - Leintrey - Reillon - Montreux - Parux 

              Montreux German Front Walk

              The Battle of Morhange - 1914

              French Bunkers - Mnt. Grand Couronné 

              South of Metz - German Bunkers -

              Feste Wagner 

              ALSACE VOSGES NORTH

              Tête du Violu - Bernhardstein

              Chaume de Lusse - Haute de Faîte

              Bertrimoutier - Frapelle  

              Ban de Sapt - La Fontenelle

              Senones - la Roche Mère Henry

              Col de la Chipotte - de la Chapelotte

              The Donon - Bunkers - Dug-outs

              ALSACE VOSGES  

              Col du Bonhomme Col de Mandray

              Tête de Faux - Buchenkopf 

              Col du Wettstein - Schratzmännele

              Lingekopf - le Linge  

              Kleinkopf - Barrenkopf 

              Hohrodberg-Giragoutte-Trois Epis  

              Reichackerkopf  

              Munster Valley Petit Ballon  

              Le Tanet - Bichtstein - Villa Sidi-Brahim

              Route des Crêtes - Hohneck -

              Gr. Ballon - Sudelkopf 

              Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand  

              Guebwiller - Rimbach - Hirzstein  

              Moosch Nécropole Nationale  

              ALSACE SUNDGAU  

              Zillisheim Illfurth Largitzen Pfetterhouse 

              Burnhaupt-le-Bas Bunker Path     

              ARGONNE

              Mort Homme Côte 304

              Montfaucon- Romagne s/s Montfaucon

              Butte de Vauquois

              Haute Chevauchée

              The Bunker of the German Crownprince

              ARTOIS

              Illies - Wicres    

              Neuve Chapelle - Richebourg

              Aubers - 1915 

              Fromelles - 1916  

              Neuville-St. Vaast - Souchez

              Notre Dame de Lorette 

              Loos

              Arras Wellington Quarry

              Vimy Ridge

              Lichfield Crater

              CHAMPAGNE

              St. Hilaire le Grand Russian Cmty  Mont Navarin

              Sommepy Mont de Blanc Mont

              La Main des Massiges

              MARNE 

              Verberie Néry Villers Cotterêts  

              First Battle of the Marne   

              Belleau Wood - Château Thierry  

              Second Battle of the Marne

              SAINT MIHIEL

              Les Eparges Ridge

              Calonne Trenches Tranchée

              Fort de Troyon

              Apremont Forest Trenches

              Butte de Montsec

              Rémenauville Destroyed Village

              le Bois le Prêtre / das Priesterwald 

              SOMME British Sector

              SOMME INTRODUCTION

              Auchonvillers Trench

              Mine Craters Lochnagar Hawthorn

              Thiepval Memorial Mouquet Farm  

              Thiepval Wood - Ulster Tower

              Ovillers La Boiselle

              Hawthorn Ridge Beaumont Hamel

              Redan Ridge 

              Newfoundland Memorial Park  

              Serre Hébuterne 

              Sheffield Memorial Park Serre

              Gommecourt 

              Fricourt Deutsche Kriegsgräberstatte 

              Contalmaison 

              Mametz Wood 

              Trones Wood Montauban Guillemont

              Caterpillar Valley Longueval 

              High Wood Longueval

              Delville Wood Longueval

              Pozières  

              Martinpuich

              le Sars Butte de Warlencourt

              Flers Gueudecourt

              Adanac Canadian Cmty. Mireaumont

              SOMME French Sector 

              Bouchavesnes

              Rancourt Cimetière National

              Rancourt Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof

              Dompierre - Becquincourt Fay Soyécourt

              Flaucourt Biaches

              VERDUN

              VERDUN Citadel 

              Thiaumont - PC 118 & 119 - A 320

              Road To Fort Douaumont       

              Fort de Douaumont

              Douaumont Nécropole Nationale  

              Côte Froideterre - Les 4 Chéminées 

              Fort de Souville 

              Fort de Vaux 

              Tunnel de Tavannes Fort

              La Voie Sacrée

              Bois des Caures - Col. Driant's C.P. 

              Flabas German Reprisals Camp

              The German Camp Marguerre 

              Duzey German 380mm Artillery Base

              Destroyed Villages Bezonvaux - Ornes

              Azannes - Damvillers - La Grande Montagne 

              YPRES

              Menin Road Railway Wood

              Maple Copse - Hill 62 - Hooge

              Clapham Junction Zandvoorde Bunker

              Polygon Wood Zonnebeke

              Hill 60 - Hollebeke -

              St. Elooi - Lankhof Farm

              Messines Ridge

              Pilkem Ridge

              Boezinge Essex Farm Ziegler Bunker

              Langemark Poelkapelle St. Juliaan

              Passchendaele Ridge

              Mount Kemmel Lettenberg Bunkers

              Ploegsteert Wood

              YZER

              Nieuport Ramskapelle

              Pervijze  Stuijvekenskerke

              Diksmuide Trench of Death 

              Leke Vladslo Houthulst

              OTHER GREAT WAR LINKS

              Pierre's Nederlandstalige
              artikelen en columns
              over de Grote Oorlog
               
              (Copy & Paste de titel in de
              zoekmachine!) 
               
              Bochkareva en haar Vrouwenbataljon
              Bretonse Bécassine tijdens de Oorlog
              De Vanceboro Bridge Bomaanslag
              Beneath Hill 60
              Tijdreizen Op Internet
              Leutnant Von Forstner Koopt Chocolade
              Duitslands Oudste Oorlogsvrijwilliger
              Marcel's Bajonet
              Souvenir de Bezonvaux
              Namibië-Etnische Zuivering-1904-1908
              Het Beleg van Fort de Vaux
              Explosiecatastrofe In Fort Douaumont 
              Franse Aas der Azen: René Fonck
              Chasseurs Alpins, Franse Alpenjagers
              Prowse Point Cemetery
              Hoe Sgt. Kunze Fort Douaumont
                 veroverde op 25-02-1916.
              Frank Hurley: Fotoshoppen In 1917
              De Kaiserschlacht,
                 een beknopte samenvatting.
              Herdenking Op Douaumont 2008
              Wapenstilstand 1918 -90 Jaar Geleden
              Vijfde Lustrum WFA Nederland,
                 11-10-2008.
              Geur van Drukinkt
              De Vallei van Munster
              Der Rote Baron Versus Flyboys 
              De Fantomen van Landowski
              Louise de Bettignies -
                 Queen of English Spies
              Monument Op Vimy Ridge
              De Erewacht van
                 Notre Dame de Lorette
              Tank Tegen Tank 90 Jaar Terug
              Von Richthofen's Laatste Noodlanding
              Generaal Von Lettow Vorbeck
              Grafschennis Notre Dame de Lorette
              Google Earth 
              De Kaiserschlacht 90 Jaar Geleden 
              De Wolfsberg - le Hamel
              Overleden Veteranen
              Franse Sector Aan De Somme
              Kerstbestand 1914
              Raadselachtig Graf
              Caporetto; Kiem Van Fascisme
              Lenin's Treinreis
              Tsjechen Aan Het Westelijk Front
              Mata Hari
              325 Miljoen Voor 12 Zeppelins
              Slagvelden Van de Somme
              Schroot
              Op de Lingekopf
              Weinig Duitse Monumenten
                  Somme
              Soldaten Standbeelden
              Mosterdgas 1917
              Schwaben Redoubt
              Oogst Van Roest
              Mortier
              De Tekenaar Hansi
              Gifgas Bij Vancouver Corner
              Nationaliteit Kwijt?
              Beloond Geduld
              Prins Harry Naar Irak
              Thiepval
              De Arm Van De Kaiser
              Artilleriebunkers Nabij Duzey
              Kamp Flabas
              Eerherstel voor "Deserteurs"
              Vredig plekje?
              Moslimmonument in Verdun 
              Bayernwald
              De Slag aan de Somme
              De Tunnel van Tavannes
              Kapitein Joost van Vollenhoven
              Huis Doorn
              Update
                 “Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje II
              Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje I 

               

               












              ALSACE SUNDGAU Zillisheim - Pfetterhouse
               
              Alsace Sundgau - Haut-Rhin:
               
              Zillisheim - Illfurth -
               
              Largitzen - Pfetterhouse
               
              years of visit: 2009 - 2010.
               
              A photo report of our explorations of the front lines in the Sundgau region, Département Haut-Rhin. South of Mulhouse, west of Basel, east of Belfort, the Sundgau forms the most southern sector of the Western Front, which ends in the valley of the Largue river. We make a trip southward from Mulhouse to Pfetterhouse on the Swiss border. We start at Zillisheim to visit it's German 380 mm. artillery base. From there we continue to  to the Illfurth Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof. Next we continue to Tagsfort, the "Bismarck" bunker near Largitzen, and to Mooslargue.
              From there we make a jump westward to Etupes to visit the grave of Caporal Peugeot, and his Site of Action at Joncherey. This photo impression ends with the last French bunker, "Villa Agathe", near Pfetterhouse and the last German bunkers at the southern end of the Western Front.
               
              Zillisheim 380 mm. German Artillery Base.
               
              South of Mulhouse and south of the village of Zillisheim, ...
               
               
              ... east of the D 432, we visit a wood, the Bois d'Altenberg.
              We park the car near the Auberge du Canon to go for a stroll.
               
               
              In the wood we walk along entrances of the underground tunnels, ...
               
               
              ... which belonged to the underground railway system
              of the Zillisheim artillery base.
               
               
              One of the entrances, a staircase leading down to a tunnel.
               
               
              In the tunnel used to be
              a 60 cm. railway for transporting ammunition...
               
               
              ... to the 380 mm. gun.
               
               
              This site is basically similar to
              the German artillery base at Duzey, north of Verdun.
               
              Siegfried SKL 45 Max, made by Krupp Werke
              Calibre: 380 mm
              Barrel length: 19,6 m
              Range: 56 Km
              Muzzle velocity: 1050 m/s
              Weight of Gun in action: 24 Tons
              Weight of shell: 495-800 Kg
              Rate of fire: 1 round every 4 minutes
              Distance from Zillisheim Artillery Base to Belfort:  35 Km.
               
              The concrete base of this super gun is now filled with water
              and covered with duckweed.
               
               
              Entrances to the tunnels of the former ammunition elevators.
               
               
              Only in August 1914 the artillery gun launched some grenades
              at the garrison at the fortress of Belfort.
               
               
              Hundred and fifty meters to the south lies
              the electricity generator bunker.
               
               
              This complex needed of course a lot of power.
               
               
               
              The bunker is densely vegetated, ...
               
               
              ... which makes it difficult to find the entrance.
               
               
              The bunker forms only the entrance
              to filled in underground rooms.
               
               
               
              We leave the bunker via another exit.
               
               
              Before we continue, 
              some concise information about the Haut-Rhin Sundgau region. 
               
               
              Sundgau. 1914.
               
              From 1871 until 1918 the Sundgau belonged officially to the German Empire. This re-edited detail of a 1917 German sketch shows these borders. It also sketches the frontlines formed in the summer and autumn of 1914, and which would stay in this situation until 1918. The border lines of Switzerland, France and Germany came together at one point east of French Réchésy and west of German "Pfetterhausen" or nowadays Pfetterhouse.
               
               
              During the first days of the war Joffre deployed his Plan XVII, or Plan 17, also against the frontiers of the Sundgau region, especially at the German garrison town of Mülhausen, or Mulhouse.
              At 2 August 1914 the first French and German soldiers were killed in this sector, near Joncherey and Faverois.
              At 19 August 1914 the French Army lost even his first general on the battlefield. More to the north, between Flaxlanden en Zillisheim, General Plessier of the 97e Régiment Alpine, from Chambéry, Savoie, died during the first hostilities.
              The Opponents. The German units.
               
               
              In German Mülhausen the “state of alertness” was declared on 31 July 31 1914. In Mülhausen was stationed the garrison of the 58th infantry brigade (112th and 142nd regiment), the 22nd Cavalry Regiment and the 5th regiment of mounted riflemen (Jäger-Regiment zu Pferde Nr. 5 der Königlich Preußischen Armee). (Remember this unit for later). All these troops were part of the XIV Army corps of Baden, which belonged to the 7th German Army under command of General von Heeringen.
              On 31 July 1914 the 142nd Infantry Regiment occupied with outposts the area along the line Cernay (Sennheim),  southward to Dannemarie (Dammerkirch), and the Swiss border. The cavalry regiments and mounted riflemen reinforced the customs officials and patrolled in this border area.
               
              The French units.
               
               
              Around Belfort General Bonneau commanded the French 7th Army Corps, consisting of  the 14th and 41st Infantry Division, reinforced by the 8th Cavalry Division. The 7th Army Corps belonged to  the 1st French Army of General Dubail with his headquarters at Epinal.
              According to the French Plan XVII the original mission of  the 7th Army Corps was to cover the mobilization of the fortress of Belfort, the railroads to Paris, and the high passes of the Vosges. Bonneau positioned  the 41st Infantry Division in the Northern and Central Vosges, the 14th Infantry Division under command of General Curé between the Vosges mountain chain and the Rhine-Rhône channel, the 8th Cavalry Division plus a battalion of the 44th Infantry Regiment under command of General Aubier between the Rhine-Rhône channel and the Swiss border.
               
              The Swiss Army.
               
               
              In those early war days neutral Switzerland felt also threatened. Swiss Territorial units occupied the border positions on 1 August 1914. The Swiss Army was mobilized on 3 August 1914. The army occupied  and guarded the northern and western borders. The Swiss had good reasons for harbouring suspicions against their neighbours. Afterwards historians detected Joffre’s “Plan H”.  “H” stands here for (Confederatio) "Helvetica" (CH). In case the Swiss should have taken sides in one way or another with Germany, Joffre would have deployed Plan H to attack and occupy western parts of Switzerland.
              (Read more about Plan H HERE).
               
              2 and 3 August 1914. Border violations and skirmishes.
               
               
              On 2 August there were already some incidents along the Sundgau border. These were still  limited skirmishes between custom officers, infanterists, and cavalrists, scouting the other side of the frontier. These incidents happened in the Sundgau sector along a line of Romagny southward to Delle. At the village of Reppe the French even made a German cavalrist prisoner of war, a horseman of the 22nd Regiment of Dragoons. One skirmish ended with the killing of the first soldiers of the Great War, Caporal Peugeot and Leutnant Mayer, along the road from Faverois to Joncherey. On 3 August there were similar incidents in this sector.
               
              The Battle for Mulhouse.
               
               
              On 7 August 1914 General Bonneau launched his 7th Army Corps to attack Altkirch. The next day, on the 8th,  the French attacked and occupied Mulhouse without any opposition, because the German troops had left the town before.  With the arrival of German reserves from Strasbourg, the Germans launched on 9 August a counter-attack at nearby Cernay. On the same day Bonneau began a slow withdrawal, forced by the absence of reserves of his own, and unable to mount a concentrated defence.
              Joffre hastily despatched a reserve division to reinforce the defence. The division arrived too late to save the town from recapture. On 10 August Bonneau retreated on Belfort in order to escape German encirclement. Joffre promptly fired Bonneau of his command and send him to Limoges. Recognising the high amount of casualties, Joffre added four more divisions to the “Army of Alsace”', and placed it under the command of General Pau.
               
               
               
              By foot it is less than 2 km from the artillery base
              to the German cemetery.
              We prefer to go by car from Zillisheim southward to
              the Illfurth Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof.
               
               
              The Illfurth Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof contains the graves of 1.964 German soldiers and officers, fallen during the Great War. 1.426 of these soldiers rest in individual graves, 7 of them are unknown; 539 soldiers rest in a mass grave, of whom 520 are unknown.
              The cemetery itself is of April 1920. The soldiers, buried here, were originally buried elsewhere; in 64 other, sometimes improvised, war cemeteries in the Sundgau region. During the years 1920-1924 their corpses have been brought over to Illfurth cemetery.
              Some of the unit memorials on the cemetery are also transported from former wartime cemeteries.
               
              The cemetery is located at a rather steep slope of a hill.
               
               
              We start at the foot of the hill
              with some graves of officers and soldiers, ...
               
               
              ... killed in the Sundgau during the first days of the war,
              and during the Battle of Mulhouse.
               
               
              There also graves of the later war years until 1918.
              Two graves of construction battalion soldiers,
              of resp. 1917 and 1918.
               
               
              "WALTER ZIEMSEN
              CAPTAIN AND CHIEF
              OF THE 9TH COMPANY
              OF THE 4TH BADEN
              INFANTRY REGIMENT
              PRINZ WILHELM NUMBER 112
              BORN 4.12.1875 IN GRAUDENZ 
              FALLEN 9.8.1914 HERE
              BY THE ATTACK AT RIXHEIM"
               
              (Rixheim is close by and east of Mulhouse.)
               
              A memorial to commemorate the
              Bavarian Landwehr Infanterie Regiment 15 (B.L.I.R. 15).
               
               
               
               
              "The
              Landwehr Regiment 123
              for it's
              brave Comrades
              1915"
               
              More upward the hill: more graves of 1914 to 1918.
               
               
              There is also a private memorial for Fritz Baer.
               
              "FRITZ BAER
              BORN 5 APRIL 1894
              IN UNTERGROMBACH
              FALLEN ON 7 OCTOBER 1914
              NEAR LARGITZEN"
               
               
               
              A Pionier and a Landsturmmann share this grave.
               
               
               
              On the top of the hill of the cemetery lies the mass grave,
              overlooked by the Imperial Eagle of the memorial for the aviators.
               
               
              There are only two bronze tiles commemorating 539 soldiers.
               
               
              "IN A COMMUNAL GRAVE
               REST HERE
               539 GERMAN SOLDIERS
               510 STAY UNKNOWN"
               
              On this mass grave an exceptional short list of 29 names.
               
               
              An inscription on the side of the rear wall tells more names.
               
               
              Near the mass grave lies a quite remarkable grave...
               
               
              "HERE RESTS THE FIRST GERMAN FALLEN SOLDIER OF THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918
              ALBERT MAYER
              SECOND LIEUTENANT
              + 2.8.1914"
               
              Later on this photo page we will visit the site of action
              of the fight of Leutnant Mayer and Caporal Peugeot,
              and we will investigate this incident in more detail.
               
              We continue studying the "Illfurth Fliegerdenkmal".
              Originally this aviators memorial of the Imperial Eagle
              was located at Habsheim, south-east of Mulhouse.
               
               
              The bronze plaque of the "Illfurth Fliegerdenkmal" tells us:
               
              "HERE REST THE ON 18 MARCH 1916 FALLEN TEAM OF AN AIRPLANE OF THE "FLIEGER ABTEILUNG 48".
              WALTHER KURT - RESERVE SECOND LIEUTENANT
              FRITZ HOPFGARTEN-  DEPUTY OFFICER
              MAX WALLAT - STAFF SERGEANT
              THEY DIED ON THIS LOCATION (Remember: Habsheim!) AFTER A HEROIC AIR COMBAT AGAINST A FRENCH SQUADRON TOGETHER WITH THEIR OPPONENTS
              ERECTED BY THEIR COMRADES APRIL 1916"
               
              With a last view at the aviators memorial
              we leave the Illfurth cemetery...
               
               
              ... to continue southward to Tagsdorf.
               
               
              In a private backyard, behind a fence, we locate... 
               
               
              ... this third line 1918 Bunker.
               
               
              A teleview through the fence tells us more about it's constructors.
               
               
              This is the only relic of the "Pionierpark Tagsdorf", ...
               
               
              ... a complex for storage of construction material and explosives.
               
               
              We continue south-westward to the front sector of the valley
              of the Largue river, and the road from Hirtzbach to Largitzen.
               
               
              In the "Schutzenwald", about 1.500 m. before
              we enter the village of Largitzen, we park our car
              safely at the Aire de Picnic at the west side of the road, ...
               
               
              ... we walk some 100 m. southward,
              and we spot at the eastern side of the road this German bunker.
               
               
              Before we cross the road to explore further,
              some concise information about the Largue front sector.
               
               
              Sundgau. August - September 1914.
               
              The French period colour photos in this frame give us an impression of the French positions near Hirtzbach and Largitzen in 1917. We are now only visiting some bunkers at the German side of the Largue front between Hirtzbach and Largitzen.
               
              August - September 1914.
               
               
              On 14 August 1914 the XIV Army Corps and the XV Army Corps were ordered back to Strasbourg, to be deployed elsewhere with the 7th German Army. These troops were replaced by an “Armeegruppe Gaede” of 5 reserve brigades under command of General Gaede, consisting of 21 infantry battalions, 5 cavalry squadrons, and 10 batteries of artillery.
               
               
              From 10 August General Pau commanded the 7th Army corps, which consisted of the 8th cavalry division and the 57th reserve division of Belfort, 3 extra reserve divisions, the 58th, 63rd, and 66th division, the 44th infantry division, and 5 battalions of Chasseurs Alpins. In total General Pau commanded about 150.000 men,  called the “Armée d’Alsace” or “7th Army”.
               
               
              When  the Germans  retreated on 14 August, General Pau decided to pursuit  them immediately, progressing between the Col de la Schlucht and the Swiss border. The advance was too slow and the French troops reached on the 18th only the line from Seppois northward to Dannemarie, Reiningue, and Munster.
              For 19 August General Pau planned to attack in the north the city of Colmar, and in the south the town of Mulhouse. On 19 August the German 6th and 7th Armies in Alsace Lorraine stopped their retreat. On the 25th these armies started a counter offensive on Sarrebourg and Morhange, the Battle of the
              Haute Meurthe - Mortagne (25 August - 11 September 1914) against the French armies of General Dubail and General Castelnau.
               

              “Armeegruppe Gaede” attacked the 7th Army around Mulhouse. On the line Mulhouse – Altkirch, the troops were involved in very heavy fights. (General Gaede lost that day about 2.300 men and 24 artillery guns.)
              North of Mulhouse the French reached Wittenheim and Illzach and were able to occupy Mulhouse again. West of Colmar the French reached the village of Les Trois Epis on the 19th and, a day later, Turckheim near Colmar.
              The 7th Army was in need of immediate re-enforcements.  But at 24 August  the “Armée de l’Alsace” had to give up again the town and the surroundings of Mulhouse. Joffre decided that the 7th Army had to give up and to retreat back to the ridges of the Vosges mountains.
               
              September 1914.
               

              After the French retreat from Mulhouse General Gaede forced in September 1914 the front line forward to a line from  Altkirch, Seppois, to Mooslargue. During that period, especially from 9 until 11 September, there were  many skirmishes and a serious fights between patrols in this sector.
              General Rouquerol at his fortress in Belfort disposed of 70.000 men.  During September 1914 these French units advanced again at a line from Cernay, Aspach, Michelbach, Dannemarie, Hirtzbach, Largitzen, and Pfetterhouse.
               

              From September 1914  the French troops were staying on German territory along the east bank of the Largue river, between Altkirch, Hirtzbach, Largitzen. Near Seppois the front crosses the Largue and runs southward at Pfetterhouse. From there the French were on the west bank, and the Germans were positioned at the east bank of the Largue. The front in this Largue sector, also called the Largue pocket, would consolidate in this situation until the end of the war.
               
               
              From the bunker east of the D 17,
              we cross the road to the west side.
              Christine was the first
              to spot this by dense vegetation hidden bunker.
               
               
              When I approach it through the thicket,
              I then only understand, that Christine located
              the German "Bismarck Bunker" with it's remarkable
              battlements and decorations.
               
               
              The inscription is probably a quote
              of the great German statesman, ...
               
               
              ... "The Iron Chancellor", Graf Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898): ...
               
               
               ... "We Germans fear God, nothing else in the world."
               
               
              The damaged bas relief represents a portrait of Bismarck.
               
               
              ...
               
               
              The constructors of the bunker left a damaged inscription:
              "..........unreadable.......................... 1916
              Komp.Ldw.8 ...unreadable... Regt 110
              Offiziere
              Rascher Hauptmann - Kompagnieführer
              Mündt Leutnant - Perso.....unreadable ...
              Grebe Leutnant - Lo.....unreadable ...."
               
               
              This bunker has been constructed by a Company
              of the 110. Landwehr Infanterie Regiment of
              the 8. Landwehr Division.
               
               
              As always, I am curious. So, I enter the bunker.
               
               
              A filled in tunnel to other underground rooms.
               
               
              View at the windows and the entrance.
               
               
              I have never seen before along the Western Front
              these peculiar, decorative battlements on a bunker.
               
               
              The top structure of the bunker is overgrown.
               
               
              Even trees and their roots grow on top of the Bismarck bunker.
               
               
              In 2010 I struggled through the impenetrable thicket,
              some 100 m. away to the east from the Bismarck Bunker,
              when I detected this overgrown bunker.
               
               
              I would not be surprised, if there is more German concrete,
              hidden in this wood.
               
              We continue southward to Mooslargue.
               
               
              Behind the village church of Mooslargue and the communal grave yard....
               
               
              ... used to be a wartime Franco-German military cemetery.
               
               
              In two languages the base of the crucifix tells us more about this site.
               
              "In memory of the French and German soldiers, who were interred in this cemetery during the war."
               
              Another side of the base tells in French:
               
              "In memory of the former military cemetery of the French and German soldiers of the Great War, fallen in this area, 1914-1918, and,
              In memory of the soldiers, born in Moos and Niederlarg, fallen in 1914-1918 on various battlefields."
               
              Marble plaques hang in four niches
              with the names of the soldiers engraved.
               
               
              The crucifix is also commemorating two civilian victims,
              killed by the explosion of a shell, and buried here;
              a 46 year old school teacher, and a 13 year old girl.
               
               
              From Mooslargue we make a huge jump westward to Etupes...
               
               
              ... to follow next the Franco-Swiss border back to the east.
               
               
              Caporal Jules André Peugeot.
               
              Next we will visit three sites, which are connected to the death of Caporal Peugeot, opponent of Leutnant Mayer, and the first killed French soldier of the Great War.
              We will visit his grave at Etupes, his memorial at Joncherey, and the site of the killing, as I have concluded it from my sources.
               
              Etupes.
               
              At the communal cemetery of Etupes we visit at
              the modest military plot the grave Caporal Peugeot.
               
               
              Right of the Caporal are buried an Adjudant Chef of the 35e R.I.,
              and two privates, resp. of the 172e R.I. and the 22e R.I.
               
               
              The grave of the first killed French soldier of the Great War:
              Caporal Jules André Peugeot.
               
               
              Plot 4, grave 181.
               
              "On Sunday 2 August 1914 Corporal Jules André Peugeot of the 44e R.I. was killed during a mission at a border post at Joncherey. More than 30 hours before she declared war to France, Imperial Germany  has already spilled the first French blood of the War of 1914-1918"
               
               
              Did Caporal Peugeot really kill Leutnant Mayer?
               
              The historian Hanotaux and the war journal of the 2nd Battalion of the 44e R.I. tell us each a different story about the dead of Leutnant Mayer and Caporal Peugeot.
              According to Hanotaux’s official French history Leutnant Mayer was hit by a rifle shot in the head, after he managed to hit the head of a soldier with his sword. Mayer and his 7 Jäger zu Pferde of the 3rd Battalion of the Jäger-Regiment zu Pferde Nr. 5 crossed the border to patrol and to scout the area. They attacked the post of Caporal Peugeot. Peugeot was deadly wounded, but he still managed to fire his rifle "at short range" and killed Leutnant Mayer. Soon afterwards Peugeot died himself.
              So, in this “official” version Hanotaux tells us that Caporal Peugot killed Leutnant Mayer.
               
               
              The Journal des Marches et des Opérations of the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Infantry Regiment (44e R.I.) tells us another story about the location and the dead of Caporal Peugeot and Leutnant Mayer on 2 August 1914:
               
              “Some minutes before 10 o’clock in the morning, four men of the 6th Company under command of Caporal Peugeot set up a post along the route from Joncherey to Faverois. At about 800 m. east from this location the unit is attacked by a German patrol of Jäger-Regiment zu Pferde Nr. 5 from Mulhouse, consisting of one Second Lieutenant (Second Lieutenant Mayer) and 7 men.
              Caporal Peugeot is killed by a revolver shot by the chief of the patrol, on whom he fired, but did miss. The (men of the) post and also the post next to it did hear the rifle shots, and start to fire at the horsemen, who try to spread out, and they kill the Lieutenant, chief of the patrol, and 2 horses.  One horseman is wounded and two others are made prisoner. The post, which was set up at a barricade at the east exit of the village of Joncherey along the route to Faverois, opens, alarmed by the rifle shots at this post, equally fire at the enemy patrol, which disappears.”
               
               
              In the version of this French war journal Peugeot fired a shot at Mayer, but missed. It was Leutnant Mayer, who  killed Caporal Peugeot with a revolver shot. Other soldiers of the 44e R.I. killed some moments later Mayer.
              Peugeot was the first soldier, killed in the Great War. Mayer was the second soldier, but still being the first killed German soldier. Anyway, French after war mythology or not, Caporal Peugeot still shares the disputable honour of the German Leutnant Mayer to be the first and French fallen soldier of the Great War.
               
               
              From Peugeot's grave we continue eastward to Joncherey ...
               
               
              ... to visit his memorial and the site of action.
               
               
              First we visit the Caporal Peugeot Memorial.
               
               
              The same text as on Peugeot's grave, here in capitals,
              and also the claim, that it happened here.
               
              "On Sunday 2 August 1914 Corporal Jules André Peugeot of the 44e R.I. was killed here during a mission at a border post at Joncherey. More than 30 hours before she declared war to France, Imperial Germany  has already spilled the first French blood of the War of 1914-1918"
               
              This memorial for Caporal Peugeot, erected in 1959, is the second memorial.
              The first memorial, erected in 1922, has been destroyed
              on 24 July 1940 by German troops.
               
               
              "In 1915 Corporal Peugeot has been cited in the order of the 44e. R.I.  and awarded with a Croix de Guerre with a bronze star,
              and in 1920 Paul Deschanel, President of the Republic, offered him posthumously the Ordre Militaire."
               
              Though the memorial claims that Peugeot fell here,
              I am going to a field behind the memorial to look
              for the site of action.
               
              Site of Action - Peugeot versus Mayer.
               
              I have several reasons to doubt the claim of the memorial text about the exact location of the fight between Mayer and Peugeot. Many times I experienced that the inscriptions on memorials are often not correct, and that the location of a memorial has been chosen for more practical than for correct historical reasons. The main reason for me to look somewhere else for this particular site is the rather precise quote of the war journal of the 44e R.I.:
               
              "At about 800 m. east from this location (the border post at the edge of the village)  the unit is attacked by a German patrol of Jäger-Regiment zu Pferde Nr. 5 from Mulhouse, consisting of one Second Lieutenant (Second Lieutenant Mayer) and 7 men."
               
              Considering the increase over the years of the built-up area of the village, I made an estimation of these mentioned 800 meters. I do realise that I am also not exact,  but I conclude that this first deadly fight happened somewhere in this field, east of the memorial. From the south I made 5 photos of this field, where to my opinion the fight between Mayer and Peugeot must have happened. The overlapping photos start westward and continue clockwise to the east.
               
              Five overlapping photos of the Site of Action of the fight of Peugeot and Mayer.
               
               
               
               
               
               
              From Joncherey we continue via Réchésy to the location, ...
               
               
              ... where the former borders of three states met each other.
               
              Réchésy - Pfetterhouse.
               
              In the area close to the Swiss border we will visit the "Borne des Trois Puissances" (Boundary Stone of the Three Powers), the Franco-Swiss border post, the last French bunker of the Western Front, the "Villa Agathe", and on the eastern bank of the Largue river, the Last German trenches and bunkers, which are all a few hundred meters away from the Swiss border.
               
              To complete the impression of the border area my Dutch friend, René Kappert, came to my assistance and did provide me with some of his photo's of the "Borne des Trois Puissances". René also let me use some carefully self-made maps of the Villa Agathe Bunker. Thanks, René!
               
              The village of Réchésy.
               
               
              Before we continue: some concise background information
              about Réchésy and Pfetterhouse...
               
               
              Réchésy and Pfetterhouse.
               
              Before August 1914 Réchésy was a French village, and Pfetterhouse was a German village; Pfetterhausen. The Franco-German border lied in between these villages. The three borders of Switzerland, Germany, and France did meet together half way Réchésy and Pfetterhausen.
               
               
              Réchésy. The intelligence service of Pierre Bucher.
               
              Docteur Pierre Bucher (1869-1921) was a patriotic, French medical doctor, born in Guebwiller. On 30 July 1914 he escaped from an imminent German arrest and fled to Switzerland. The Germans condemned him to death for desertion and treason. On 4 August, after the declaration of war, Bucher returned to France and enlisted in the army. Some few weeks later he was detached to the intelligence service of the general staff of General Pau.
              Docteur Pierre Bucher set up a military intelligence centre in a villa at the outskirts of the village of Réchésy, called the “Académy de Réchésy”, a few hundred meters away from the three borders location. Bucher’s staff observed and reported not only the military operations and troop movements of the German army units, but they also eagerly collected intelligence about the movements of the Swiss army units along the border. Pierre Bucher was awarded for his services with the decoration of the Légion d’Honneur.
               
              Pfetterhouse. August 1914.
               
               
              Already on 7 August 1914, during General Bonneau’s first attack on Mulhouse, about 400 infantry and cavalry soldiers under command of Dragoon Sergeant Grünfelder attacked successfully the German units at Pfetterhouse. That day the French counted four dead. The Swiss authorities immediately closed down the frontier.
               

              In spite of two following retreats the French were later able to hold the position east of Pfetterhouse on to the west bank of the Largue river. From October 1914 the 55e Régiment d’Infanterie Territoriale (55e R.I.T.) under command of Commandant Fleutiaux occupied the area around Pfetterhouse. From the end of December 1914 the 55e R.I.T.  mainly occupied the west bank of the Largue. The German soldiers were positioned at the east bank of the Largue.
               

              During the war years skirmishes and bombardments would go on in this sector. In February 1916 Pfetterhouse and surroundings even suffered a German artillery bombardment, which lasted for more than a week. During these bombardments the population of the village has been evacuated to Montbéliard. In spite of these violent events the End of Western Front near Pfetterhouse would freeze in the same situation until 1918, as it was in December 1914.
               
               
              Departing from Réchésy we are going eastward, along the D 20.
              After some 1.300 m there is a sign,
              designed in a colourful Hansi-style,
              which directs to the right, to a muddy track,
              which leads south-westward into the woods to the
              Borne des Trois Puissances,
              or the Boundary Stone of the Three Powers.
               
               
              René made this photo from the French territory.
              "RF" stands for République Française.
              The left, rather rough stone is a relic
              of a border stone the Habsburg period.
               
               
              A view from the Swiss side of the frontier.
              "C S" stands for Confederation Suisse, 
              and "D" stands for Deutschland or Germany.
               
               
              Christine and I continue eastward along the D 24.
              In the village of Pfetterhouse we turn left, at the D 10 bis,
              and go southward to
              the Franco-Swiss frontier post and customs office.
               
               
              By many this location is considered as the end of the Western Front.
               
               
              But in fact it is not the exact southern end of the Western Front.
               
               
              A view from the border to the outskirts of Pfetterhouse.
               
               
              We leave Pfetterhouse and continue eastward along the D 24.
               
               
              About 500 m. outside the village is a track leading southward.
               
               
              We go on by foot along the track,
              that touches the edge of the "Bannholz" wood.
               
               
              Just as a reminder: again the situation map.
               
               
              I have to struggle southward in quite a densely vegetated wood.
              After a while I detect the French "Villa Agathe" Bunker.
               
               
              The rear side of the last French bunker of the Western Front
              with the entrance.
               
               
              René measured the bunker precisely and made this ground plan.
               
               
              The rear side, photographed from the west.
               
               
              The staircase at the entrance.
               
               
              The northern wall.
               
               
               
               
               
               
              The fire windows facing the north.
               
               
              With a last view at the field before the Bannholz wood, ...
               
               
              ... we continue to the location, which I consider as
              the proper, southern end of the Western Front:
              the last bridge, before the Swiss border, over the river Largue.
               
               
              We cross the Largue to the German frontline.
               
               
              I show this 1936 utility house, at the east bank,
              just as an important landmark for fellow front-travellers.
               
               
              The Germans possessed the east bank of the Largue.
              About 15 m. next to the utility house, ...
               
               
              ... a German observation bunker,...
               
               
              ... with it's top blown off.
               
               
              We cross the road and in the wood we detect traces of trenches.
               
               
              On the southern side of the road, a machine-gun bunker.
               
               
              We are here only a few hundred meters away from the Swiss border.
               
               
              The fire openings facing westward across the Largue.
               
               
              Some 75 m. southward lays a relic of a trench, ...
               
               
              ... connected to another machine-gun bunker.
               
               
              A look inside.
               
               
              The three fire windows, south-. west-, and northward.
               
               
              The same bunker, on the outside, facing the west.
               
               
              Last view of the last German bunkers of the Western Front.
              In the background the other machine-gun bunker.
               
               
              On the next photo page we explore another site in the Sundgau: the Bunker Path of Burnhaupt-le-Bas.
               
               
               Continue to the next chapter
              about the Alsace Sundgau battlefields:





















              Reacties

              Ben Aalbers op 06-12-2009 08:59
              Pierre and Christine , un grand merci for another very interresting story of another nice trip to the never ending story of amazing madness.
              Pierre op 07-12-2009 16:29
              @ Ben Aalbers. You are welcome and thank YOU, Ben, for your kind words of appreciation.
              Alsoon behalf ofChristine,
               
              Pierre
               
               
              René op 20-07-2010 17:47
              Mooie aanvulling Peter,
              Het verhaal rond Caporal Peugeot is nu ook compleet met zijn laatste rustplaats.
              En die bunkertjes langs de Largue zijn ook een mooie aanvulling.
              Toch best een bijzonder stukje front daar vlakbij de Zwitserse grens. 
              Pierre op 21-07-2010 11:53
              @ René. Inderdaad is dit “vergeten stukje” van het front nog best bijzonder, ook al zijn daar in afgelopen 90 jaar de dorpskernen flink gegroeid en is er veel veranderd. Uiteraard ben ik blij met jouw tevredenheid over deze aanvulling over Peugeot en de Duitse bunkers. Nog bedankt voor jouw aandeel in dit eindresultaat en voor jouw reactie hier.
              Pierre
              Hans Brugger op 16-09-2010 01:58
              Sir,
              I visited your website. Very interesting. I often was near Pfetterhouse to search old bunkers, trenches etc. of WW 1.
              I have some old pictures, founded in a swiss military book from 1914, shows the swiss side of the end of the front at the "Largzipfel".
              If you want, I will send you a copy when I am back in Basel, where I live. I think, you can use them for your extraordinary webside. Send me a message in english or deutsch, I d'ont understand holländisch.
              Pierre op 16-09-2010 11:45
              @ Hans Br. Dear Mr. Bruggen, thank you for your interesting reaction! Of course I am always interested in period photographs of the Swiss army unitsalong the border! If you like to send me some of those, you can always reach me by e-mail at pierre_grandeguerre@live.nl. Thanks in advance for all your efforts!

              Pierre
              Eric op 24-01-2014 22:28

              Remarkable site - many thanks.

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