La Tranchée de Chattancourt

History of the trench

The site choice was not picked (built)  willy-nilly.  Chattancourt was situated on the Left side of the river Meuse, about 15 kilometers from the Ossuary of Douamont.  Since the beginning of the war, French soldiers were stationed in this village.  In March of 1916, Chattoncourt being situated at the base of the Mort Homme Hill (Dead-mans Hill) found itself on the Front-Line, and definitively the German advance during the Battle of Verdun.

If, in collective memory, the Great War is represented by Verdun, the Poilu and the trenches were well mixed after the War.  In certain places, traces are found in the woods.  The idea of re-creating a trench for the 100th Anniversary of the Great War became to a group of enthusiasts.  Despite numerous monuments being on the Left Bank, there was no Museum.

After a very deep study with help from vintage maps of the French State, it was found that a part of the Trenches of Toulouse and Chattancourt were in proximity of this area.  A member of the association purchased  this land and put it at the disposition of said Association.

Tranchée de Toulouse dans le musée à ciel ouvert de Chattancourt à proximité de Verdun, Première guerre mondiale
Trench of Toulouse

We have therefore have re-built this Trench with the help of beams, boards, sandbags and corrugated steel shelters. Canvas bags for the sandbags were offered by various French Army Regiments. As for thje Coorugated steel, they all date from the First War and were found on Chattoncourt farms and nearby communities.

Trench cagna made with metro sheets

This task was not simple at all-the limestone caused us a lot of problems.  As we started to dig with our shovels and pick-axes, we quickly abandoned the idea and started to use a mini-backhoe. This same problem was encountered by the French troops, attested  by numerous witnesses. Already at that time engineers used a special machine to dig trenches.

Machine à creuser les tranchée à l'époque de la Grande Guerre
Special machine to dig trenches

During the works, many objects were found showing the destruction caused by war.

It took more than 2 years to entirely complete this trench, without counting the numerous permits and laws to be followed. (Handicap accessibility, archeological, etc

Trench work

Each part of the trench whether a shelter or a hut, was reproduced with precision thanks to original instruction manuals, pictures of the era, and verification by Soldiers.

Also, all of the photos on site date from the Great War, and for the most part, unique.  They were acquired from private collections, members of the Association, or gifted by visitors.

All along the length of the journey, a visitor can imagine themselves as a Poilu, thanks to many explanations and objects that are portrayed.  

On conclusion, there is not less than 100 Meters of trench and shelters that are totally reconstituted.  A very interesting daytrip-as well as for children as  for adults- that will help you understand the War of the trenches.