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Chemin des Dames

Detail from the Basque Memorial, Chemin des Dames, Craonnelle, France.

Detail from the Basque Memorial, Chemin des Dames, Craonnelle, France.

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Chemin des Dames, the Ladies Road, lies along the high ground north of the Aisne River between Soissons to Rheims in Champagne, France, and was the site of the Second Battle of the Aisne, the French component of the Nivelle Offensive of April, 1917.

Germany had seized the heights of Chemin des Dames in its 1914 invasion of France, and retreated to the position after the Battle of the Marne. The First Battle of the Aisne was fought from September 12 to 15, 1914 before the opposing armies turned their focus to the Race to the Sea.

The region has both natural and man-made caves for defense and shelter. When Nivelle attacked in 1917, his opponent had had two and a years to strengthen his position. When the French did manage to advance in the failed attack, they were sometimes attacked from the rear by German soldiers emerging from the caves.

In May and June, 1917, nearly half the French Army mutinied, refusing to take part in pointless and suicidal attacks. In ending the mutinies, French commander in chief Henri P├ętain promised his army that he would make greater use of artillery and other weapons before any infantry assault, and that his objectives would be clear and limited. Beginning in August he demonstrated these principals in actions supporting the British in the Third Battle of Ypres, and again at Verdun where a six-day bombardment by 3,000 guns firing 3,000,000 shells preceded the attack. The October 23 Malmaison Offensive, named for an old fort retaken by the French in the attack, ended with a German retreat and the capture of the heights of Chemin des Dames.

Chemin des Dames is a region in France.

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Books about Chemin des Dames (1)

Title Author Last Name Author First Name
The 1917 Spring Offensives: Arras, Vimy, Chemin des Dames Buffetaut Yves