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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

THE END OF THE LINE


GTS

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I've brought this question up before within a topic, but the subject moved away from my query and so I never actually received an answer.

Anyway I was just wondering whether anybody on here knows what happened at the end of the line on the Swiss Border.I have spent some considerable time in Nieuport and have seen many photos and plans from that area, but in all my years of being fascinated by the Great War ,I don't recall ever seeing a description, much less a photo, of how the trenches ended at the "other end". I assume the Swiss frontier was only marked by stones, so did the trenches just sort of peter out, or did they come to a sudden full stop, hard up against the border?

I know it was a very inactive part of the front, but did patrols sneak around the flank and did anybody ever use the area to evade capture ? I do recall seeing French plans for attacks through Swiss territory into Germany/ Austria on a strategic scale, but did either side ever contemplate flanking attacks around the border ?

I know it is not the most vital part of the war, but it just sort of fascinates me.

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As far as I know trench lines were frequently replaced by forts in strategic positions on the southernmost sections of the Western Front. Tactically movement through the areas was almost impossible therefore I do not know of either side ever seriously considered a large scale offensive, although I am sure that there were the routine raids and sniping.

JGM

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So was there no actual continuous trench system south of say Belfort then ?

I suppose that sort of makes sense now I think about it, although I recall, whilst staying in Strasbourg, seeing some of the battle sites in the Vosges ( where I assume the terrain is similar to the Jura) where trenches and strongpoints were in place.

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In 'Trench Warfare' Ashworth talsks of 'Isolated outposts' in the Vosges as opposed to solid trench lines.

JGM

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There are many trenches in the Vosges cut into the stone visible today as on Hartsmanwillerkof, may be spelled wrong.

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Yes I suppose they were now I think about it, a continuous trench system would be almost impossible in mountainous terrain. The battles in the Vosges were ususlly attacks against strongpoints, or more accurately systems of strongpoints etc.

I imagine that where the Vosges ended to the South, the area was covered by the forts of the Belfort "gap" and then off into the mountains of the Jura, down to the border. Interesting to wonder if anybody ever did entertain the idea of utilising these possible weak spots in the line.

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Hi GTS,

The following pictures appear in The Somme: Ninety Years On - A Visual History by Duncan Youel and David Edgell, p 23:

trenchends.jpg

The image on the left is captioned: 'The northernmost extent of the Western Front trench system on the Belgian coast.'

The splendidly atmospheric alpine image on the right is captioned: 'The southernmost extent at the Swiss Alps.'

Hope this is of some interest.

Ciao,

GAC

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The French definitely considered an advance through Switzerland. Foch was given the task [of considering it] after the First Battle of the Marne. This, and other details of the Swiss non-involvement in the war, was covered in an article in '14-18 Le Magazine de la Grande Guerre'.

Robert

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Having raised this topic I thought may be that I should do a little research myself, and I came across an interesting website, which I suspect many of you may already know, which displays a large collection of WW1 Colour photos. One section has a number of pictures of the French/Swiss frontier post at Pfetterhouse.

Anyway if anybody is interested, then please see link below:-

http://www.worldwaronecolorphotos.com/html/gallica_83_h.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was told some time ago that the Swiss built a trench system along their border at right angles to any French or German trenches to monitor activity and prevent any incursions. The front line was just inside Germany at this very end of the line. Why not send an email to the Swiss miltary attache in London c/o Swiss Embassy !!

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See the intro of:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~aur/Battlefields/Vosgestravel.htm

And for the Swiss situation:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~aur/Battlefields/swiss.htm

Hope that helps!

Regards,

Marco

Sorry not to reply earlier Marco, but I have been away from my computer.

Anyway, many,many thanks for your reply, the websites are very interesting and answer my question. I think I may come down to Pfetterhouse in the next couple of years and take a look for myself.

Once again thanks to you and everybody else who has replied.

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