Tag Archives: Western Front

News & Events–Over There: The Allied Terms of the Armistice

    As the Centennial of the Armistice approaches, it is fitting to spend a little time reviewing and understanding the thirty-five terms of the Armistice.  After millions of deaths and the destruction of hundreds of miles of French and Belgian territory, Marshall Foch and other Allied leaders dictated the terms with no room for German negotiation.  The German representatives received the terms on 8 November and reluctantly signed the terms at 05h00 on 11 November.  The Armistice went into effect at 11h00 on 11 Continue reading →

La Vie en France #37: The Beauty and the Sorrow of the Armistice Centennial

As 11 November 2018–the Centennial of the Armistice–approaches, I find myself having very mixed feelings.  One hundred years ago the combined economic and military might of the Allied powers finally put an end to more than fours years of fighting an industrialized war–the likes of which had never been experienced before.  Certainly, for those soldiers that day was a wonderful day–once they got used to the deafening silence.  This “beauty” of the Armistice is reflected in these carefully staged photos of 5th Division soldiers near Continue reading →

La Vie en France #36: Telling the AEF Meuse-Argonne Story

    On a recon trip before the Western Front Association USA Branch 2007 tour I penned the following forward:   25 February, 2007 Hotel du Commerce, Aubreville It’s 23h30 and I cannot fall asleep.  The countless sites, roads, experiences of the past two days run through my mind. This area of France has been calling me since my first visits in the early 1990s, yet how do I tell the story of American participation in 1918? I reenact, but I’ve never experienced the terror Continue reading →

La Vie en France #35: Laundry Day–When You’ve run out of Clean Clothes

    So what does one do when one runs out of clean clothes on a vacation to the battlefields?  The answer can vary widely.  There is the “old wash socks and underwear in the sink trick.”  They can then air dry in the hotel room, using the radiator on cooler days.  If one is staying in a small hotel or B&B, one can ask the host / hostess politely if they could do a load.  Of course, one should pay them for their efforts!  Continue reading →

La Vie en France #34: Boureuilles: Jump-off Line for the 28th and 35th Divisions

  What a difference a year makes!  Last year, the Webmaster rented a gite in “The Punchbowl” of Doulcon for six months.  Doulcon was liberated by the 5th Division on 3 November, 1918–quite late in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This year the Webmaster is renting the “Gite les Rosiers” in Boureuilles.  This gite is basically on the 28th and 35th Division jump-off line of 26 September–just a few kilometers south of Varennes-en-Argonne.  Said another way, the front-line of 26 Sept. ran east-west from Vauquois Hill (about Continue reading →

Then and Now: Montfaucon d’Argonne 1918-19 Versus Today

    Few sites on the Meuse-Argonne American battlefield are as heavily visited as Montfaucon d’Argonne; and yet it remains difficult to “see” the town as it looked at the end of the war.  Moving from a destroyed village to a preserved memorial park that can be visited safely by thousands annually requires considerable clean-up and sanitization.  Thus, one sees the Memorial, the (enhanced) church ruins and a scattering of observation pillboxes, along with some good signage; but one does not see the ruined town Continue reading →

People of the Meuse-Argonne: Mike Cunha

    Even today French locals, other Europeans and Americans find themselves drawn to the Meuse-Argonne region of France.  Once drawn there, many return time and again; often working on a multi-year research or preservation project.  In this irregular series, the Webmaster hopes to introduce readers to some of these individuals and their labors of love.     1)  What are your name, nationality and occupation? My name is Mike Cunha.  I am an American, and I work as a social studies / history teacher.  Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Practical Safety (and Comfort) Tips For Your Pilgrimage

    The last Travel Tips topic–“Seeking Permissions…”–received so much feedback that the Webmaster felt it best to follow this up immediately with a discussion of “Practical Safety (and Comfort) Tips for Your Pilgrimage.”  Many of the cultural topics have been covered in the “La Vie en France” blog post category or elsewhere on this website; but repetition can be a good thing given the large numbers of Americans planning to travel “Over There” this fall.  The goal is not to scare anybody from making Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Seeking Permission to Enter Property When You Speak no French

    In a Garden / On a Farm As a non-French speaker visiting the battlefields, just getting breakfast at the hotel in the morning can be a daunting task.  Asking a land-owner for permission to walk their property is out of the question!  Before taking French lessons, the Webmaster fell into that category of traveler.  One strategy he used was to have a French co-worker (today Google Translate) write a short introduction letter in French, that can be modified to meet one’s specific needs.  Continue reading →

News & Events–Over There: August 20 Update on Harry Rupert and Chatel-Chehery Photo Exhibition

  The photo exhibition (about 150 photos) on the grounds of the Chateau in Chatel-Chehery is open for visitation during the times listed above.  However, the tent–which includes a slide show of several hundred additional photos–is closed for an indefinite period.  Harry Rupert has spent months planning this exhibition, so please support him by visiting it!   As reported in late July, Harry suffered a major health issue.  He is home and is recovering; but he still has very little energy and his recovery is Continue reading →