Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Forgotten Battlefield: Le Linge

The Fighting at Le Linge 


The struggle for Le Linge, a hilltop located fourteen miles west of Colmar in the Vosges Mountains, was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, but is mostly forgotten today. Between 20 July and 15 October 1915, the Germans organised their defense here in order to prevent French troops advancing on Colmar. In 1915 this area was part of the Alsace, which Germany considered its own. The fighting was extremely violent, with 17,000 killed counting both the French and German losses. Gas and flamethrowers were used here. Subsequently, as both sides came to realize that a major breakthrough in the Vosges was unfeasible, the hill was the site of some of the closest, most intense trench fighting of the Great War.


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The area shown here between the 1914 border and the line of 1915-1918 was the only German territory occupied by the French Army before the Armistice.

Le Linge Today


The battlefield is situated at the top of a rocky hillock, dotted with a few trees and lined with trenches dug out of the sandstone. The bunkers and barbed wire which crisscrossed the area have been retained. A very moving memorial site, the battlefield contains numerous black-and-white crosses marking the final resting place of French and German troops. A museum includes numerous items found on the site: weapons, personal belongings, munitions, and other relics. Models of the battlefield, video clips, and photos further add to the experience

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The view from the southern entrance to the site; below – a guide shows the trench network.



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Four views of the various trench lines



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Two distinguishing aspect of the Le Linge site: the extensive use of concrete by both sides and the well-preserved barbed wire barricades throughout.



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My 2012 tour group at the northernmost outpost at Le Linge; right – a Chasseur Alpins ski-trooper on display in the excellent museum at the site.




1 comment:

  1. Visited the site today; it is well worth the winding trip up the mountain to get there. Moving experience. Much of the area is well preserved, and walking the trench lines really takes you back. The museum is well laid out and contains great exhibits.
    Rusty R, South Carolina US

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