Then and (Not Quite) Now: German Ammunition Dumps at Brandeville and Lissey

The series of excellent Signal Corps photos shown below caught the Webmaster’s attention while living in France last November.  He spent a good bit of time one day trying to line up then and now photos by the hills around Brandeville, because all but the last photo shown are captioned as Brandeville.  He finally admitted defeat when he could not get any good “now” matches.  Coming back to those photos in January 1919, he wonders if most of them were mis-captioned.  The clue comes from the fact that the last photo is captioned at Lissey, and a look at the ABMC map section below shows German ammunition dumps at both Brandeville and Lissey.  It is not the first time that Signal Corps photos have been mis-captioned.  Should he have been looking in Lissey?  His hunch is that the first two were taken at the Brandeville site and the rest were taken at the Lissey site.  Hopefully a return trip in 2019 will provide the answer.


The rapid retreat of the Imperial German Army required under the terms of the Armistice left hundreds of ammunition dumps simply abandoned.  All of these had to be cleared.  In many cases the explosives were simply gathered together and exploded in a large pit, as shown in the last photo.  Explosives removal is just one of the many topics that will be covered in the 1918-19 Reconstruction / Occupation tour offered by Randal Gaulke and German historian Markus Klauer in September, 2019.  Here is a link to the flyer:  Reconstruction and Occupation Tour Flyer Final



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42839


The caption to Signal Corps photo nr. 42839 reads:  “Panorama of German ammunition depot at Brandeville where immense quantities of ammunition are stored.  This ammunition is to be exploded by reclamation and demolition men of Field Ammunition Office, Ordnance Dept., 1st Army, Brandeville, Meuse, France.”  As stated above, all but the last photo is captioned as Brandeville.  According to the caption, all photos were taken by Sgt. 1st Cl. Morris Fineberg, S.C. on 20 January, 1919.



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42840



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42841



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42842



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42843



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42844



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42845



Signal Corps Photo Nr. 42846


The caption to Signal Corps photo nr. 42846 reads:  “German Ammunition explosion at Lissey, Meuse, France.  3,000 shells, 1,500 grenades and some dynamite were exploded here by Reclamation and Demolition men of Field Ammunition Office, Ordnance Dept., 1st Army, Brandeville, Meuse, France.”