Situated just a bit west of the Argonne Forest, the wonderfully-recreated trenches at La Main de Massiges (The Hand at Massiges) are well worth a visit—even if American troops did not directly fight at that location. The association, “la Main de Massiges,” was formed in 2008. Beginning in 2010, it has worked to preserve a small piece of the Champagne battlefields with the help of aerial photographs from 1915. The association has worked to recreate the trenches using construction methods of the time; and it has included “then” photos of everyday life in the trenches, “rusty bits,” and signage to explain individual locations. The result is a wonderful recreation of French and German trench lines in 1915 that one rarely finds today—as shown in the photographs below. (The morning fog helped add atmosphere to the webmaster’s pictures.)
Readers are strongly encouraged to visit this site on their next battlefield visit. It’s not far from the Western edge of the Argonne Forest.
More information on the site and the association can be found at http://www.lamaindemassiges.com/ and at http://centenaire.org/en/main-de-massiges-association.
Correction and Update:
Shortly after posting this, the webmaster received FB messages from German reader Stefan Schweitzer with a few updates. “La Main de Massiges” literally means “The Hand of Massiges.” This refers to an area of the Western Front in the Champagne which looks like a hand. The French association takes its name from that portion of the Champagne battlefield, but that is not the section of trench that the association has recreated. The section of trench that is recreated is on Hill 191 (la Côte 191 on French maps and Ehrenberg on German maps. Thank you for the update Stefan!
This is confirmed by looking at the English text on the second website listed above. It also gives a bit of detail as to the significance of the site selected:
“The Crater is a dominant position located to the East of the Main de Massiges, and was a pivotal position between the Champagne and Argonne fronts. A major site of the war of the underground mines, two funnels, thirty or so metres in diameter bear witness to the violent fighting at the start of 1915. This position was taken and lost several times between September 1914 and September 1915, and as such we can find German trenches overlapping the French trenches and vice versa.”