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

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Helpful Kiosks on the Western Front

Photographed by Our Contributing Documentarian, Steve Miller

A few months ago I presented some interesting interesting informational kiosks from some favorite sites on the Italian Front. Today I'd like to show you some that I found particularly informative or helpful. Steve Miller in his travels has regularly photographed these kiosks and shares his collection with us. When I started leading tours a quarter of a century ago, nothing like this was available. You had to find your way with a Michelin map and Rose Coombs's guidebook, which was a lot stronger on the British Army sites than the French or American sites. In some cases you may need to click on the image to read the fine print. In others I've extracted some of the English language commentary for easier reading.

Beaumont Hamel, Newfoundland Memorial Park, Somme

Comment:  Simple multilingual poster that shows the key sites of 1 July 1916 and the later advance of the 51st Scottish Division that secured the area.

Craonne, Chemin des Dames

Comment:  This little former village was chosen by fate to be an important battlefield in 1814, 1914, and 1917.  It is also immortalized in song. Today it is the  closest  thing in France to what an American would call a ghost town.  It has a nice map of the former village and some basic information in French and English.

Eparges Spur, St. Mihiel Salient

Comment: One of the greatest mining sites of the war, Eparges has a scale almost beyond comprehension. Although the text is only in French,  the images and graphic map tell much of the story of the fighting on the ridge. Also pictured is Maurice Genevoix, the noted French author, who recorded the sheer awfulness of the fighting at Eparges before being wounded in April 1915.

Fleury Village, Verdun

Comment: A thriving farm village of 422 in 1914, in the summer of 1916 Fleury found itself at the head of the ravine that provided the most direct access to Verdun for the German Army. It changed hands 16 times and was (as the photos above document) utterly leveled. Today it is the most famous of Frances "Villages Detruit." The kiosk gives some interesting details in the English-language section.

The Vimy Ridge Memorial as Art

Comment: Canada has done a fabulous job commemorating their 1917 victory at Vimy Ridge. The site is filled with helpful kiosks and staffed by well-informed young Canadians. This particular panel focuses on the artistic merits of the monument.  Below are some of the details from the English language sections. 

In the future, we will share some of kiosks from the American battlefields of 1918 from Steve's collection.


  1. I have been to Fort Doumont( spell check won't let me use the correct name) twice always in a hurry and I have always regretted not having the time to see Fleury.

  2. Can't wait for the American kiosks. Well done!