Wednesday, February 8, 2017
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also known as the Maas-Argonne Offensive and the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. It was fought from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of 11 November 1918, a total of 47 days. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought the war to an end. The battle cost 28,000 German lives and 26,277 American lives, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), which was commanded by General John J. Pershing. American losses were exacerbated by the inexperience of many of the troops and tactics used during the early phases of the operation.
The Meuse-Argonne was the principal engagement of the AEF during World War I
These haunting images reveal the battlefields of World War One as they look today - one hundred years after the fighting broke out.
German dead on the Somme battlefield. (National Archives) #
Royal Army Medical Corps men search the packs of the British dead for letters and effects to be sent to relatives after the Battle of Guillemont, Somme, France, in September of 1916. (Nationaal Archief) #
Skulls and bones piled in a field during World War I. Photo from a collection by John McGrew, a member of the Photographic Section of the U,S, Army Fifth Corps Air Service, part of the American Expeditionary Forces. (San Diego Air and Space Museum) #
Panoramic view of almost totally destroyed town; crude sign reads, "this was Forges", possibly Forges-les-Eaux.(Library of Congress) #
Dead horses and a broken cart on Menin Road, troops in the distance, Ypres sector, Belgium, in 1917.(National Library of New Zealand) #
A shattered church in the ruins of Neuvilly becomes a temporary shelter for American wounded being treated by the 110th Sanitary Train, 4th Ambulance Corps. France, on September 20, 1918. (NARA/Sgt. J. A. Marshall/U.S. Army) #
2nd Division Pioneers clearing the road near the Cloth Wall Ypres October, 1917. (Frank Hurley/State Library of New South Wales) #
A German machine gunner lies dead at his post in a trench near Hargicourt, in France on September 19th, 1918. From the original caption: "He had courageously fought to the last using his gun with deadly effect against the advancing Australian troops."(State Library of Victoria) #
A French officer stands near a cemetery with recent graves of soldiers killed on the front lines of World War One, at Saint-Jean-sur-Tourbe on the Champagne front, eastern France. (Reuters/Collection Odette Carrez) #
Toward the end of 1918, the Central Powers began to collapse. The Allies had pushed them out of France during the Hundred Days Offensive, and strikes, mutinies and desertion became rampant. An armistice was negotiated, and hostilities ended on November 11, 1918. Months of negotiation followed, leading to a final Peace Treaty. Here, Allied leaders and officials gather in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles for the signing of the peace Treaty of Versailles in France on June 28, 1919. The peace treaty mandate for Germany, negotiated during the Paris Peace Conference in January, is represented by Allied leaders French premier George Clemenceau, standing, center; U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, seated at left; Italian foreign minister Giorgio Sinnino; and British prime minister Lloyd George. (AP Photo) #
Soldiers in a field wave their helmets and cheer on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, location unknown. (AP Photo) #
Americans in the midst of the celebration on the Grand Boulevard on Armistice Day for World War I in Paris, France, on November 11, 1918. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps) #
The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for a monster celebration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thousands massed on all sides of the replica of the Statue of Liberty on Broad Street, and cheered unceasingly. (NARA) #
The First Battalion of he 308th Infantry, the famous "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Division's Argonne campaign of the Great War, march up New York's Fifth Avenue just past the Arch of Victory during spring of 1919. (AP Photo) #
A Marine kisses a woman during a homecoming parade at the end of World War I, in 1919. (AP Photo)
The logistical prelude to the Meuse attack was planned by then-Colonel George Marshall who managed to move American units to the front after the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The big September/October Allied breakthroughs (north, centre and south) across the length of the Hindenburg Line – including the Battle of the Argonne Forest – are now lumped together as part of what is generally remembered as the Grand Offensive (also known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies on the Western Front. The Meuse-Argonne offensive also involved troops from France, while the rest of the Allies, including France, Britain and its dominion and imperial armies (mainly Canada, Australia and New Zealand), and Belgium contributed to major battles in other sectors across the whole front.
The French and British Armies' ability to fight unbroken over the whole four years of the war in what amounted to a bloody stalemate is credited by some historians with breaking the spirit of the German Army on the Western Front. The Grand Offensive, including British, French and Belgian advances in the north along with the French-American advances around the Argonne forest, is in turn credited for leading directly to the Armistice of 11 November 1918.
On September 26, the Americans began their strike towards Sedan in the south; British and Belgian divisions drove towards Ghent (Belgium) on the 27th, and then British and French armies attacked across northern France on the 28th. The scale of the overall offensive, bolstered by the fresh and eager but largely untried and inexperienced U.S. troops, signaled renewed vigor among the Allies and sharply dimmed German hopes for victory.
The Meuse-Argonne offensive, shared by the U.S. forces with the French Fourth Army on the left (as shown on the accompanying map and armistice), was the biggest operation and victory of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. The bulk of the AEF had not gone into action until 1918. The Meuse-Argonne battle was the largest frontline commitment of troops by the U.S. Army in World War I, and also its deadliest. Command was coordinated, with some U.S. troops (e.g. the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Division and the 93rd Division) attached and serving under French command (e.g. XVII Corps during the second phase).
The main U.S. effort of the Meuse-Argonne offensive took place in the Verdun Sector, immediately north and northwest of the town of Verdun, between 26 September and 11 November 1918. However, far to the north, U.S. troops of the 27th and 30th divisions of the II Corps AEF fought under British command in a spearhead attack on the Hindenburg Line with 12 British and Australian divisions, and directly alongside the exhausted veteran divisions of the Australian Corps of the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF). With artillery and British tanks, the combined three-nation force, despite some early setbacks, attacked and captured their objectives (including Montbrehain village) along a six-kilometre section of the Line between Bellicourt and Vendhuille, which was centred around an underground section of the St. Quentin Canal and came to be known as the Battle of St. Quentin Canal. Although the capture of the heights above the Beaurevoir Line by October 10, marking a complete breach in the Hindenburg Line, was arguably of greater immediate significance, the important U.S. contribution to the victory at the St. Quentin Canal is less well remembered in the United States than Meuse-Argonne.
The American forces initially consisted of fifteen divisions of the U.S. First Army commanded by then-General John J. Pershing until October 16, and then by Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. The logistics were planned and directed by then-Colonel George C. Marshall. The French forces next to them consisted of 31 divisions including the Fourth Army (under Henri Gouraud) and the Fifth Army (under Henri Mathias Berthelot). The U.S. divisions of the AEF were oversized (12 battalions per division versus the French/British/German 9 battalions per division), being up to twice the size of other Allies' battle-depleted divisions upon arrival, but the French and other Allied divisions had been partly replenished prior to the Grand Offensive, so both the U.S. and French contributions in troops were considerable. Most of the heavy equipment (tanks, artillery, aircraft) was provided by the European Allies. For the Meuse-Argonne front alone, this represented 2,780 artillery pieces, 380 tanks and 840 planes. As the battle progressed, both the Americans and the French brought in reinforcements. Eventually, 22 American divisions would participate in the battle at one time or another, representing two full field armies. Other French forces involved included the 2nd Colonial Corps, under Henri Claudel, which had also fought alongside the AEF at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel earlier in September 1918.
The opposing forces were wholly German. During this period of the war, German divisions procured only 50 percent or less of their initial strength. The 117th Division, which opposed the U.S. 79th Division during the offensive's first phase, had only 3,300 men in its ranks. Morale varied among German units. For example, divisions that served on the Eastern front would have high morale, while conversely divisions that had been on the Western front had poor morale. Resistance grew to approximately 200,000–450,000 German troops from the Fifth Army of Group Gallwitz commanded by General Georg von der Marwitz. The Americans estimated that they opposed parts of 44 German divisions overall, though many fewer at any one time.
"During the three hours preceding H hour, the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides managed to fire throughout the four years of the [American] Civil War. The cost was later calculated to have been $180 million, or $1 million per minute." The American attack began at 5:30 a.m. on September 26 with mixed results. The V and III Corps met most of their objectives, but the 79th Division failed to capture Montfaucon, the 28th "Keystone" Division was virtually ground to a halt by formidable German resistance, and the 91st "Wild West" Division was compelled to evacuate the village of Épinonville though it advanced eight kilometers. The green 37th "Buckeye" Division failed to capture Montfaucon d'Argonne. The subsequent day, September 27 most of 1st Army failed to make any gains. The 79th Division finally captured Montfaucon and the 35th "Sante Fe" Division captured the village of Baulny, Hill 218, and Charpentry, placing the division forward of adjacent units. On September 29, six extra German divisions were deployed to oppose the American attack, with the 5th Guards and 52nd Division counterattacking the 35th Division, which had run out of food and ammunition during the attack. The Germans initially made significant gains but were barely repulsed by the 35th Division's 110th Engineers, 128th Machine Gun Battalion and Harry Truman's Battery D, 129th Field Artillery. In the words of Pershing, "We were no longer engaged in a maneuver for the pinching out of a salient, but were necessarily committed, generally speaking, to a direct frontal attack against strong, hostile positions fully manned by a determined enemy." The German counterattack had shattered so much of the 35th Division, a poorly led division (most of its key leaders were replaced shortly before the attack) made up of National Guard units from Missouri and Kansas, that it had to be relieved early - though remnants of the division subsequently reentered the battle. Part of the adjacent French attack met temporary confusion when one of its generals died, however it was able to advance nine miles, penetrating deeply into the German lines, especially around Somme-Py (the Battle of Somme-Py (French: Bataille de Somme-Py)) and northwest of Reims (the Battle of Saint-Thierry (French: Bataille de Saint-Thierry)). The initial progress of the French forces was thus faster than the two to five miles gained by the adjacent American units (however, the French units were fighting in a more open terrain, which is easier to attack).
Another image shows the Champagne Battlefield burial site memorial left intact on the Western Front with a soldier's equipment left on the grave, along with a plaque placed there by his father in 1919.
The second phase of the battle began on 4 October, during which time all of the original phase one assault divisions (the 91st, 79th, 37th and 35th) of the U.S. V Corps were replaced by the 32nd, 3rd and 1st Divisions. The 1st Division created a gap in the lines when it advanced one and a half miles against the 37th, 52nd, and 5th Guards Divisions. It was during this phase that the Lost Battalion affair occurred. The battalion was rescued due to an attack by the 28th and 82nd Divisions (the 82nd attacking soon after taking up its positions in the gap between the 28th and 1st Divisions) on October 7. The Americans launched a series of costly frontal assaults that finally broke through the main German defenses (the Kriemhilde Stellung of the Hindenburg Line) between 14–17 October (the Battle of Montfaucon (French: Bataille de Montfaucon)). By the end of October, US troops had advanced ten miles and had finally cleared the Argonne Forest. On their left the French had advanced twenty miles, reaching the Aisne River. It was during the opening of this operation, on October 8, that Corporal (later Sergeant) Alvin York made his famous capture of 132 German prisoners near Cornay.
By October 31, the Americans had advanced 15 kilometers and had finally cleared the Argonne Forest. On their left the French had advanced 30 kilometers, reaching the River Aisne. The American forces reorganized into two armies. The First, led by General Liggett, would continue to move to the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres Railroad. The Second Army, led by Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, was directed to move eastward towards Metz. The two U.S. armies faced portions of 31 German divisions during this phase. The American troops captured German defenses at Buzancy, allowing French troops to cross the River Aisne, whence they rushed forward, capturing Le Chesne (the Battle of Chesne (French: Bataille du Chesne)). In the final days, the French forces conquered the immediate objective, Sedan and its critical railroad hub (the Advance to the Meuse (French: Poussée vers la Meuse)), on November 6 and American forces captured surrounding hills. On November 11, news of the German armistice put a sudden end to the fighting.
One hundred years after the start of the Great War, none of the participants remain alive, and we are left with aging relics, fading photographs, scarred landscapes being reclaimed by nature, and memorials and graveyards across the globe.
Yesterday, June 28, 2014, marked the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Assassin Gavrilo Princip fired the first shot in what was to become a horrific years-long bloodbath. However, after the sound of gunfire was silenced on Armistice Day, the deaths continued to mount. Revolutions spawned in Russia and Germany, arbitrary redrawing of national borders set the stage for decades of conflict, harsh reparation demands inspired the rise of Nazi Germany and the onset of World War II. The first World War continues to kill to this day - just this past March, two Belgian construction workers were killed when they encountered an unexploded shell buried for a century. Bomb disposal units in France and Belgium dispose of tons of discovered shells every year. Though the events of World War I have now fallen out of living memory, the remnants remain -- scarred landscapes, thousands of memorials, artifacts preserved in museums, photographs, and the stories passed down through the years -- stories of such tremendous loss. On this 100-year anniversary, I've gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world.
Tree limbs surround the World War One Canadian Memorial, also known as the 'Brooding Soldier' in St. Julien, Belgium on March 7, 2014. The statue is a memorial to the Canadian troops who died in the first gas attacks of the First World War in 1915.(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Sheep graze in an area still dangerous from unexploded World War One munitions at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on March 26, 2014 in Vimy, France. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
Crosses stand at the WWI Douaumont ossuary near Verdun, France, on March 4, 2014. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler) #
A Verdun battlefield that still bears the scars of shell impact craters, photographed in 2005. #
A bomb-disposal expert displays unexploded British grenades recovered outside Courcelette, the scene of a WWI battlefield in the Somme, on March 12, 2014. Every year farmers unearth several tons of shells, shrapnel, gas shells, unexploded grenades, called "engins de mort" (weapons of death), that bomb-disposal experts of Amiens remove and destroy. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
A sculpture by German artist Kathe Kollwitz, titled "The Mourning Parents" at the World War I Vladslo German Cemetery in Vladslo, Belgium, on May 8, 2014. The cemetery contains the graves of over 25,000 German soldiers. The artists son, Peter Kollwitz, who was killed in the war when he was only 18 years old is buried in a grave in front of the statue. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) #
Members of German World War One historical association sit on the remains of a French 155mm long-range cannon at the wiped-out village of Bezonvaux, near Verdun, eastern France, March 29, 2014. Members of French and German historical associations, who gather annually, together visited the battlefield of Verdun in France, the site of a bloody World War One battle that dragged on for around 10 months in 1916, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and destroying many villages. (Reuters/Charles Platiau) #
Lloyd Brown, a 104-year-old World War I veteran takes a moment to pause as he remembers being in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard with his ship the day WW I ended, at his home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, on November 9, 2005. Brown remembered Armistice Day in 1918 as few, ever so few, veterans can. "For the servicemen there were lots of hugs and kisses," he recalls Brown, a teenage seaman aboard the battleship USS New Hampshire when the fighting stopped. "We were so happy that the war was over." Brown added, "There's not too many of us around any more." An estimated 2 million Americans served in Europe after the U.S. entered the war in 1917. Lloyd Brown passed away in April of 2007, at the age of 105. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner) #
The HMS Caroline rests in Alexandra Dock in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 29, 2013. A National Heritage Memorial Fund grant will go towards urgent preventative work to secure the Caroline. Built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead in 1914 she was part of the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron which saw action in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and is the last surviving Royal Navy ship from that period still afloat. At the time of her decommissioning in 2011, she was the second oldest ship still in Royal Navy service, HMS Victory Nelson's flagship preserved at Portsmouth, being the oldest. Caroline was converted into a depot and training ship for The Royal Navy Reserve in Alexandra Dock in Belfast in later years. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A diver from the bomb-disposal unit holds an unexploded shell recovered in a river in Cappy, close to WWI battlefields, March 19, 2014.(Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
A member Commonwealth War Graves Commission displays a maple leaf, an army jacket emblem, found on the remains of a Canadian soldier by archaeologists in the city of Sancourt near Cambrai in northern France, on June 9, 2008. The soldier, who participated in the battle of Cambrai, fought from September to October 1918, was part of the 78th Winnipeg Battalion of Manitoba, part of the 4th Canadian Division. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
Trees stand where the village of Fleury once stood, near Verdun, on March 5, 2014. A hundred years after the guns fell silent in World War One, nine villages wiped out by fighting on France's bloodiest battleground continue to lead a ghostly existence. Their names still appear on maps and in government records. Mayors representing them are designated by local authorities. But most of the streets, shops, houses and people who once lived around the French army stronghold of Verdun are gone. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler) #
Watches found with the remains of French WW1 soldiers, on June 3, 2013 in Verdun, France. At least 26 bodies of French soldiers were found in the cellar of a farm in the totally destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont. Seven were identified by their military identification plate. (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man looks at the names of the missing on the Thiepval Memorial in Arras, France, on November 4, 2008. The Commonwealth War Grave Commission manages 956 cemeteries in Belguim and France, which bear witness to the heavy human sacrifice made on the Western Front during the First World War (1914-1918) and Second World War (1939-1945). (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #
Archeological workers unearth a British WWI Mark IV tank in Flesquieres, near Cambrai in northern France, on November 19, 1998. British troops abandoned the tank on November 20, 1917, and German troops then buried it and used it as a bunker.(AP Photo/Michel Spingler) #
The battlefield of the Somme contains many cemeteries - Beaumont-Hamel (front), Redan Ridge Cemetery No.2 (R) and Redan Ridge Cemetery No. 3 (top) on March 27, 2014 in Beaumont-Hamel, France. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
Gas masks from World War I at the new exhibition "1914 - In the Middle of Europe" at the Ruhr museum in the former coking plant Zollverein in Essen, Germany, on May 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) #
Red poppies bloom in a field in Peutie, Belgium, on June 3, 2014. The red poppy was one of the first flowers to bloom in the churned up soils of World War I, and was soon widely accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) #
Unexploded shells are lined up along a wall awaiting removal by bomb-disposal experts after a French farmer found them while plowing his fields near the Courcelette British cemetery, the scene of a WWI battlefield in the Somme, on March 12, 2014.(Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
The casket of US Army Corporal Frank Buckles lies in honor at the Memorial Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 15, 2011. Buckles, the last American veteran of World War I, died February 27, 2011 at the age of 110. He served in the Army from 1917, at the age of 16, until being discharged in 1920. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images) #
A sculpture of a Caribou looks out over the trenches of the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Beaumont-Hamel, France, on March 27, 2014. The preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds on which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful attack on July 1, 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A digital sonar image of the contours of a sunken German World War I submarine on the bottom of the North Sea. The sunken wreck of the U-106 has been discovered off the island of Terschelling, an island in the Wadden Sea off the northern Netherlands, and will become an official war grave, the Dutch Defense Ministry announced Wednesday, March 16, 2011. It sank in 1917 after hitting a mine with the loss of all 41 crew. (AP Photo/Dutch Defense Ministry) #
Members of the bomb disposal unit lower a large unexploded shell in a sand bed onto their truck, at a construction site in Ypres, Northwestern Belgium, on January 9, 2014. According to the Belgian Defense Department, two construction workers were killed on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, when they encountered the armament in a construction zone. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, file) #
Inside view of a WWI trench at Massiges, northeastern France, on March 28, 2014. During the war, the battlefield between the Champagne and Argonne fronts was taken and lost several times by French and German troops between September 1914 and September 1915. During trench restoration works, in the last two years, the Main de Massiges Association has found seven bodies of WWI soldiers. (Reuters/Charles Platiau) #
At the Franco-Swiss Border in Pfetterhouse, rusting WWI barbed wire sits near the kilometer zero (zero mile marker) of the WWI front line, on September 5, 2013. The front started at the Swiss border and was 750 km long to the North sea.(Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images) #
Archeologists in the city of Arras in northern France discovered the intact remains of 24 British servicemen who were buried in 1917 during World War I. The discovery of the skeletons, which lay side by side with their army boots still intact had evidence they were from the same town. They were unearthed during the excavations for a new BMW plant at the end of May 2001. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission who took possession of the remains, identified 20 of the soldiers who were buried together to be from the 10th Lincoln Battalion. Three others, found in a nearby shell hole, were from the Marine Infantry and one other was found buried alone. (Reuters) #
A monument to local men who were killed during World War I, photographed on June 24, 2014 in Wildenroth, Germany. Villages across southern Germany usually have a small monument to men killed while serving in the German army during World War I, and the listed names often number into the dozens or even hundreds even in villages with small populations. (Philipp Guelland/Getty Images) #
A road sign that reads "main street" stands in what used to be the village of Bezonvaux near Verdun, on March 4, 2014. A hundred years after the guns fell silent in World War One, nine villages wiped out by fighting on France's bloodiest battleground continue to lead a ghostly existence. Their names still appear on maps and in government records. Mayors representing them are designated by local authorities. But most of the streets, shops, houses and people who once lived around the French army stronghold of Verdun are gone. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler) #
Vera Sandercock holds a picture of her father, Private Herbert Medlend, who served in the First World War in the 'doubly thankful' village of Herodsfoot, England, on April 4, 2014. There are 13 villages in England and Wales where everyone who left to fight in World War One and World War Two returned home safely. These fortuitous communities are known as 'doubly thankful' villages.(Reuters/Darren Staples) #
A visitor walks towards the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on March 26, 2014 in Vimy, France. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
Divers explore inside a ship in Burra Sound, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, on May 8, 2014. During both World Wars, Scapa Flow was an important British naval base, and the site of significant loss of life. Following the end of World War One, 74 German warships were interned there, and on June 21, 1919 most were deliberately sunk, or scuttled, at the orders of German Rear Admiral Ludwig Von Reuter, who mistakenly thought that the Armistice had broken down and wanted to prevent the British from using the ships. Now Scapa Flow is a popular site for divers, who explore the few wrecks that still remain at the bottom. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
Remains of unidentified soldiers at the ossuary of Douaumont, eastern France, on February 9, 2014. The ossuary holds the remains of 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers who died in the battle of Verdun. (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images) #
A statue depicting a Poilu (French soldier in World War I), silhouetted in front of the sky on a war monument, in Cappy, Northern France, on November 6, 2013. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
Red poppies bloom on the walls of preserved World War I trenches in Diksmuide, Belgium, on June 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) #
A pair of shoes, believed to belong to a British soldier, have been excavated from a trench dated from the World War I near the Belgian city of Ypres on the Western Front November 10, 2003. Belgian archaeologists, aided by British military experts, found remains of soldiers as well as weapons and other objects in what was considered to be the first professional exploration of a battlefield in the region. (Reuters/Thierry Roge) #
Varlet farm owner Charlotte Cardoen-Descamps points out different types of World War I shells that were found on her farm in just a single season in Poelkapelle, Belgium, on May 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) #
A foot of a German soldier killed in a French attack in the First World War lying in a Kilian underground shelter, at the Sundgaufront on the Lerchenberg in Carspach near Altkirch, France, uncovered by employees of the Alsatian archaeological service (PAIR), on October 12, 2011. Remains of German soldiers were found, who were buried alive after a huge Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in an attack on March 18, 1918. The men belonged to the 6th Company of the Reserve Infantry Regiment 94 and were until now considered missing in action. (AP Photo/dapd/Winfried Rothermel)#
An aerial view shows Canadian National Vimy Memorial on Vimy Ridge, northern France March 20, 2014, the scars of craters and trenches still visible. This memorial site is dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
A cross stands on the edge of the Lochnagar Crater on March 28, 2014 in La Boisselle, France. The crater was made when an enormous mine was detonated on the first day of the Somme offensive during World War One. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
Tombs at the Nolette Chinese Cemetery, the burial place of some 850 Chinese workers who died during World War I, in Noyelles-sur-Mer, northern France, on August 1, 2013. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images) #
An aerial view of the Franco-British memorial in Thiepval, northern France, on April 12, 2014. At 45 meters high, this is the largest British war memorial in the World, over 72,205 names of missing soldiers of the First World War, are engraved in the stone pillars.(Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) #
A man dressed in uniform holds an order of service during the funeral of Harry Patch, outside Wells Cathedral, in western England August 6, 2009. Thousands of people attended the funeral on Thursday of "Last Tommy", Briton Harry Patch, who was the last surviving veteran of the World War One trenches until his death at the age of 111. (Reuters/Stefan Wermuth) #
A member of the ONF (Office National des Forets) looks at an unexploded shell in a forest in Vaux-devant-Damloup, near Verdun, on March 24, 2014. In the forest of Verdun, full of this kind of vestiges of the First World War, the former battlefield attracts thieves, to the chagrin of the authorities and archaeologists. (Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images) #
Torchlights are placed next to soldiers' tombs at the Douaumont boneyard, eastern France, during the annual event known as The Four Days of Verdun, a night parade of veterans, as they commemorate the Verdun battle 98th anniversary.(Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images) #
Participants stand near the Sydney Cenotaph at the conclusion of the Remembrance Day service in Sydney, Australia on November 11, 2010. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)
Posted by ASC at 4:09 PM