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

Monday, January 25, 2021

What Happened at the Col de la Chipotte?

Chipotte Pass Today, Cemetery on Left

From 28 August to 9 September 1914, Col de la Chipotte, a small pass through the Vosges Mountains six miles south of Baccarat, was the scene of daily desperate struggles that included hand-to-hand combat. Located on the edge of the Vosges mountains, its capture and control by German forces would have allowed them ready access west onto the Lorrain Plateau deep into France.  

Surrounding Terrain

Possession of the pass switched between the French and Germans five times, killing over 4,000 French soldiers. One unit of 3,000 men lost two thirds of its effectiveness in two days of fighting. The battle's survivors remembered it as the "Hell Hole." German losses are believed comparable, but were  not recorded.  On 5 September, first day of the Battle of the Marne, German commanders halted their assault to shift forces elsewhere. A week later, French troops gained full control of the pass. 

German and French Graves Side by Side

Thus, the Battle of the Borders ended that day, with a French victory, but part of the Vosges territory would remain occupied for four long years. La Chipotte is now the site of a French national cemetery and two memorials to the French soldiers who died there. As part of the centennial commemoration of the war, a memorial educational trail was installed around the cemetery with informational panels remembering the details of the small but deadly struggle of 1914.

Memorial to the 86th Brigade of Chasseurs

No comments:

Post a Comment