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Remembered Today:

Compiegne- Soissons area


towisuk

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Help required...

Stopping down in the Compiegne-Soissons area in October, and I feel out of my "comfort zone" which is further to the north.

Any advice on areas to visit whilst down there would be appreciated, not too bothered about things like museums etc, more interested in visible signs of the war "on the ground".

Are there any trenches or fortifications that are left over from WW1 and have not been turned into "attractions", that's the sort of thing I'm looking for....could even be off the beaten track....

regards

Tom

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Hi Tom,

If you get the chance then it is well worth visiting the ruins of the ancient Ferme de Confrecourt. I think the farm dates back hundreds of years and must have been extremely strongly built as some of the massive thick walls still remain. The new farm has been rebuilt but some distance away so the ruins still remain in a wooded area. The farm has been virtually destroyed with shelling but what remains is still fascinating. All around the farm are old limestone quarries which were used as shelters by French troops fighting in the area. A small railway line is still evident in front of the caves and farm. In these caves there is an incredible collection of carvings and drawings left by the soldiers. The most moving I thought is an ornately carved chapel with an alter and cross next to a set of stairs which led up to the front lines.

The caves are generally fenced off and to gain access you need a guide. When we were in the area the tourist office at nearby Vic-sur-Aine were very helpful in arranging this, though I don't know how often visits are possible. Even if you can't access the caves it is still worth visiting the ruined farm as some carvings can be seen from outside.

The village of Vingre nearby is also interesting. There is a memorial here to some French soldiers who were shot by their own side for alleged cowardice, a charge which was subsequently overturned. There is an underground bunker where it is said the men were imprisoned the night before the execution. While imprisoned the men wrote their last letters home. These letters have been replicated on perspex panels and have been put up, along with photos of the men, each on a different building in the village.

Many of the villages between Soissons and Compiegne show visible scars from shelling. In Soissons itself the Cathedral is interesting because of obvious shell damage. To the East of Soissons lies the Chemin de Dames which has many WW1 memorials and cemeteries and is a must for any visit to the area.

Hope this helps

Michael

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Hi Tom,

If you get the chance then it is well worth visiting the ruins of the ancient Ferme de Confrecourt. I think the farm dates back hundreds of years and must have been extremely strongly built as some of the massive thick walls still remain. The new farm has been rebuilt but some distance away so the ruins still remain in a wooded area. The farm has been virtually destroyed with shelling but what remains is still fascinating. All around the farm are old limestone quarries which were used as shelters by French troops fighting in the area. A small railway line is still evident in front of the caves and farm. In these caves there is an incredible collection of carvings and drawings left by the soldiers. The most moving I thought is an ornately carved chapel with an alter and cross next to a set of stairs which led up to the front lines.

The caves are generally fenced off and to gain access you need a guide. When we were in the area the tourist office at nearby Vic-sur-Aine were very helpful in arranging this, though I don't know how often visits are possible. Even if you can't access the caves it is still worth visiting the ruined farm as some carvings can be seen from outside.

The village of Vingre nearby is also interesting. There is a memorial here to some French soldiers who were shot by their own side for alleged cowardice, a charge which was subsequently overturned. There is an underground bunker where it is said the men were imprisoned the night before the execution. While imprisoned the men wrote their last letters home. These letters have been replicated on perspex panels and have been put up, along with photos of the men, each on a different building in the village.

Many of the villages between Soissons and Compiegne show visible scars from shelling. In Soissons itself the Cathedral is interesting because of obvious shell damage. To the East of Soissons lies the Chemin de Dames which has many WW1 memorials and cemeteries and is a must for any visit to the area.

Hope this helps

Michael

I was there last year and the visits are only on certain days. They are very helpful in the Vic-sur-Aisne tourist office. The Guard's Cemetery is one of the best I have visited. Many French/German cemeteries in the area which are huge.

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Have a look at my thread on 'Captain Robert Hamilton diary' tour which covers the area.

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Many thanks for the information and suggestions chaps, I'm looking forward to this visit, it will obviously extend my knowledge of what happened further south of the Somme. I must admit to restricting myself to reading about what went on North of the river, so I've some cramming and planning to do over the next few weeks...

regards

Tom

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  • Admin

Always good to read that people are venturing aaway from the big 2! There are so many more sights to see and explore.

Michelle

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So,so true,Michelle.

We've just spent a splendid day at Namur where his nibs proudly filled in the girly at the tourist info office on her towns history in August '14.Wonder if I'll get a job there now???

Doubt it.

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I would suggest a visit to Les Fantomes memorial at the Butte de Chalmont it's a little bit South of where you will be, but very impressive.

Mandy

P1000210.jpg

here is another view

P1000209.jpg

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Thanks for the suggestion Mandy...a couple of nice photo's you posted......

regards

Tom

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Buzancy is worth a visit for the CWGC Cemetery at the back of the Church. It contains the memorial to 15th Scottish Division from 17th French Division.

Aye

Malcolm

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Buzancy is worth a visit for the CWGC Cemetery at the back of the Church. It contains the memorial to 15th Scottish Division from 17th French Division.

Aye

Malcolm

Thanks Malcolm, made a note of that, born in Falkirk where many family members still live, so have close connections to my countrymen....

regards

Tom

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I was in Soissons in March, although staying about an hour away in Chateau Thierry. As mentioned, the cathedral has some battle damage, and The Fantomes is quite moving - the four steps represent the four years of the war.

There is a strong American flavour down there - the US memorial at C-T, and of course, Belleau Wood (US cemetery, trenches and guns to see here) a few miles away from C-T. There is a monument to Quentin Roosevelt in Chamery, about 5 miles east of Fere-en-Tardenois, and the Oise-Aisne US cemetery is near F-e-T as well.

Also in this area is the Ossuaire and memorial at Dormans on the Marne. It would probably be a days outing to see them all, including Buzancy (There's a small memorial to the US Big Red 1 there) and the Loupeigne French-German cemetery as well.

Of course the armistice site is near Compiegne but I didn't have time to get there. Next time, maybe...

Belleau Wood:

img2095p.jpg

img2021c.jpg

Soissons:

img2387c.jpg

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Excellent "embra", and many thanks for the suggestions, (superb photo's by the way) I'm sure that will be one area I will really try to cover.

As for the Armistice clearing, I'll only be stopping a couple of miles down the road from that..so that's a pop-in when going to re-stock with

Vin blanc(or rouge)....

regards

Tom

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Towisk - I enjoyed my time there, and there were very few other people looking at the WW1 sites. It seemed like there was a lot to see in the area but I had family/lady duties as well.

A couple more pics - The monument at Chateau Thierry:

img2169p.jpg

more Belleau Wood:

img2044z.jpg

The Roosevelt Memorial:

img2237a.jpg

I think the engine of his plane is in the Coincy Town Hall but don't quote me on that.

Slightly off topic, Coincy is 3-4 miles south-west of Fere-en-Tardenois, and on the D80 heading towards Armentieres sur Orq is a small churchyard. There is a propeller off a Lancaster there as a memorial to 3 WW2 Allied airmen buried outside the graveyard - apparently the Germans wouldn't let the locals bury them inside.

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Thank you gentlemen, all added to my "France October" file....

regards

Tom

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Tom

I have stayed at a village called Vic-sur-Aisne on quite a few occasions and despite staying in the Gite owned by the 'Curator' of the caves mentioned and being a member of L'association Soissonaise 14-18, I never got to see the caves as you must book or find out when there will be a guided tour. The name of the chap to contact is Jean-Luc Pamart on pamartjl@wanadoo.fr.

In Vingre, the site of the executions 'pour exemple pour les autres', individual houses have adopted a victim each with a perspex plaque with a photo and the last letter home. Very moving.

Pierrefonds is beautiful whose castle was used for various filming projects I believe.

Have a great time.

Maxi

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Tom

I have stayed at a village called Vic-sur-Aisne on quite a few occasions and despite staying in the Gite owned by the 'Curator' of the caves mentioned and being a member of L'association Soissonaise 14-18, I never got to see the caves as you must book or find out when there will be a guided tour. The name of the chap to contact is Jean-Luc Pamart on pamartjl@wanadoo.fr.

In Vingre, the site of the executions 'pour exemple pour les autres', individual houses have adopted a victim each with a perspex plaque with a photo and the last letter home. Very moving.

Pierrefonds is beautiful whose castle was used for various filming projects I believe.

Have a great time.

Maxi

If I won the lottery, I'd buy a house at Pierrefonds

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On the way down, don't forget Riqueval (scene of 46th Div's redemption) and nearby American Cemetery (Builly?)

The scene of the signing of the Armistice near Compiegne is also a worthwhile visit (if a little sterile)

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  • 1 year later...

zippy

On revisiting this thread I must admit that the Armistice site is not what I expected and was closed on the two occassions that I went there. Shame but I don't want to put anyone off going there as I intend to go there in 2018. If I'm spared!

Maxi

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