Monday, November 12, 2018


These images show dozens of inscriptions made by America’s  World War One ‘doughboys’ soldiers inside twelve miles of secret tunnels in the forests of northern France

America deployed more than one million troops to Europe, and they were known as doughboys because disparaging European cavalrymen thought the large brass buttons on their uniforms looked like the flour dumplings or dough cakes.

116,516 Americans died on the blood-soaked battlefields of Europe in the USA’s first military deployment to defend foreign soil.

Among them were the young men of Boston’s 26th Infantry Division who arrived in Saint-Nazaire, France, on September 27, 1917, to support British and French forces and helped hold the Aisne line – the Allied Front beyond Chemin des Dames.

By the end of the war 100 years ago, 1,587 Yankees would be killed and 12,077 wounded.

The ridge over Chemin des Dames would change hands several times during the course of a series of ultimately fruitless battles. In the second battle of Aisne alone 400,000 troops died in a matter of weeks in early 1917.

When US troops were not on the front line some of them took shelter in a quarried out cave at Froidmont, where they whiled away the hours by carving their names and graffiti into the walls. 

After the war that cave was preserved and has been a tourist attraction for decades, access to which is controlled by the local historical association – who opened the cave to a Reuters photographer to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.      

Creative: Inscriptions left by American soldiers of the 26th Division are seen in the Froidmont quarry in Chemin des Dames. Boston's 26th Infantry Division arrived in Saint-Nazaire, France, on September 27, 1917, to support British and French forces and helped hold the Aisne line - the Allied Front beyond Chemin des Dames. The ridge  would change hands several times during the course of a series of ultimately fruitless battles. In the second battle of Aisne alone 400,000 troops died in a matter of weeks in early 1917.

Creative: Inscriptions left by American soldiers of the 26th Division are seen in the Froidmont quarry in Chemin des Dames. Boston’s 26th Infantry Division arrived in Saint-Nazaire, France, on September 27, 1917, to support British and French forces and helped hold the Aisne line – the Allied Front beyond Chemin des Dames. The ridge  would change hands several times during the course of a series of ultimately fruitless battles. In the second battle of Aisne alone 400,000 troops died in a matter of weeks in early 1917.

Troops from the 26th Infantry Division used the Froidmont quarry in Chemin des Dames to shelter from relentless German artillery. Pictured: Photos of the two of troops - RA Best and LE Williams - who used the quarry have been placed near their inscriptions. The Froidmont quarry has been a tourist attraction for decades, and over the years local enthusiasts have been able to use military records to match the names on the wall of the quarry with their photographs. However it is not known if these two soldiers survived the war

Troops from the 26th Infantry Division used the Froidmont quarry in Chemin des Dames to shelter from relentless German artillery. Pictured: Photos of the two of troops - RA Best and LE Williams - who used the quarry have been placed near their inscriptions. The Froidmont quarry has been a tourist attraction for decades, and over the years local enthusiasts have been able to use military records to match the names on the wall of the quarry with their photographs. However it is not known if these two soldiers survived the war

Troops from the 26th Infantry Division used the Froidmont quarry in Chemin des Dames to shelter from relentless German artillery. Pictured: Photos of the two of troops – RA Best and LE Williams – who used the quarry have been placed near their inscriptions. The Froidmont quarry has been a tourist attraction for decades, and over the years local enthusiasts have been able to use military records to match the names on the wall of the quarry with their photographs. However it is not known if these two soldiers survived the war

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, displays a portrait of U.S. soldier F.A. Hoyt of the 26th Infantry Division next to graffiti he left in the 12 mile-tunnel complex 100 years ago. Mr Chawin's historical association was able to match Hoyt's service record with his graffiti in the tunnel. He survived the war

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, displays a portrait of U.S. soldier F.A. Hoyt of the 26th Infantry Division next to graffiti he left in the 12 mile-tunnel complex 100 years ago. Mr Chawin's historical association was able to match Hoyt's service record with his graffiti in the tunnel. He survived the war

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, displays a portrait of U.S. soldier F.A. Hoyt of the 26th Infantry Division next to graffiti he left in the 12 mile-tunnel complex 100 years ago. Mr Chawin’s historical association was able to match Hoyt’s service record with his graffiti in the tunnel. He survived the war

Soldiers of Company F of the 26th division, including Joseph Bridges, (centre with glasses). All their recruits were from New England so they were given the nickname 'Yankees'. The Yankees were the second division the US deployed in the First World War in what was the first US intervention in a European conflict. America deployed more than one million troops to Europe and they were known as doughboys because European cavalrymen thought the large brass buttons on their uniforms looked like the flour dumplings or dough cakes.

Soldiers of Company F of the 26th division, including Joseph Bridges, (centre with glasses). All their recruits were from New England so they were given the nickname 'Yankees'. The Yankees were the second division the US deployed in the First World War in what was the first US intervention in a European conflict. America deployed more than one million troops to Europe and they were known as doughboys because European cavalrymen thought the large brass buttons on their uniforms looked like the flour dumplings or dough cakes.

Soldiers of Company F of the 26th division, including Joseph Bridges, (centre with glasses). All their recruits were from New England so they were given the nickname ‘Yankees’. The Yankees were the second division the US deployed in the First World War in what was the first US intervention in a European conflict. America deployed more than one million troops to Europe and they were known as doughboys because European cavalrymen thought the large brass buttons on their uniforms looked like the flour dumplings or dough cakes.

This picture shows an opening to one of the tunnels in Northern France, with American soldiers standing outside the capture dug-out. All their recruits to the 26th Division were from New England so they were given the nickname 'Yankees' - which describes someone from the state

This picture shows an opening to one of the tunnels in Northern France, with American soldiers standing outside the capture dug-out. All their recruits to the 26th Division were from New England so they were given the nickname 'Yankees' - which describes someone from the state

This picture shows an opening to one of the tunnels in Northern France, with American soldiers standing outside the capture dug-out. All their recruits to the 26th Division were from New England so they were given the nickname ‘Yankees’ – which describes someone from the state

A carving representing a dog with a German helmet. New pictures of the inscriptions taken by Reuters photographer Charles Platiau have been released in the run up to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

A carving representing a dog with a German helmet. New pictures of the inscriptions taken by Reuters photographer Charles Platiau have been released in the run up to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

A carving representing a dog with a German helmet. New pictures of the inscriptions taken by Reuters photographer Charles Platiau have been released in the run up to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

A graffiti representing a French soldier. While on break from front-line duty, recruits carved 250 military insignias and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they holed up the quarry which was equipped with artificial light and drinking water

A graffiti representing a French soldier. While on break from front-line duty, recruits carved 250 military insignias and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they holed up the quarry which was equipped with artificial light and drinking water

A graffiti representing a French soldier. While on break from front-line duty, recruits carved 250 military insignias and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they holed up the quarry which was equipped with artificial light and drinking water

US Corporal Earle Madeley of Plainville, Connecticut wrote this barely legible message which included his age, 20. In total, after 210 days of combat during World War One, 1,587 members of the Yankee Division were killed and 12,077 were wounded

US Corporal Earle Madeley of Plainville, Connecticut wrote this barely legible message which included his age, 20. In total, after 210 days of combat during World War One, 1,587 members of the Yankee Division were killed and 12,077 were wounded

US Corporal Earle Madeley of Plainville, Connecticut wrote this barely legible message which included his age, 20. In total, after 210 days of combat during World War One, 1,587 members of the Yankee Division were killed and 12,077 were wounded

A drawing representing William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody in seen in the Froidmont quarry where the soldiers sheltered. The survivors from the Yankee Division returned to the USA on May 3 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

A drawing representing William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody in seen in the Froidmont quarry where the soldiers sheltered. The survivors from the Yankee Division returned to the USA on May 3 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

A drawing representing William Frederick ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody in seen in the Froidmont quarry where the soldiers sheltered. The survivors from the Yankee Division returned to the USA on May 3 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

The ‘Yankee Division’ 

The 26th Division was formed on 18 July 1917 and activated on 22 August 1917 at Camp Edwards, MA. 

The division’s commander selected the nickname ‘Yankee Division’ to highlight its geographic makeup. 

Sent to Europe in World War I as part of the American Expeditionary Forces, the division saw extensive combat in France.

In WWII, the division again fought through France, advancing into Germany and liberating the Gusen concentration camp.

While on break from front-line duty, recruits carved 250 military insignia and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they holed up the quarry which was equipped with artificial light and drinking water.

New pictures of the inscriptions taken by Reuters photographer Charles Platiau have been released in the run up to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

The carvings are rarely seen because people need a special appointment to view them, but they have been preserved since the war. 

Boston’s 26th Infantry Division arrived in Saint-Nazaire, France, on September 27, 1917, to support British and French forces and helped hold the Aisne line – the Allied Front beyond Chemin des Dames. 

All their recruits were from New England so they were given the nickname ‘Yankees’ – which describes someone from the state.

The Yankees were the second division the US deployed in the First World War in what was the first US intervention in a European conflict.

The action heralded a newly interventionist US foreign policy from that time on, which later saw them come to the aid of the allied forces against the Nazis.

The division received six campaign streamers (military honours) for combat throughout northern France.

In total, after 210 days of combat, 1,587 Yankees were killed and 12,077 were wounded. The survivors returned to the USA on May 3 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts.

The Froidmont quarry, nicknamed the quarry of the Americans, is managed by an association and may be visited by appointment only. 

The only way to enter the quarry is via a ladder through a hole in the ceiling, which is closed with a hatch.

A caricature of Kaiser Wilhelm, the Emperor of Germany is seen in the Froidmont quarry where US soldiers hid out in WWI

A caricature of Kaiser Wilhelm, the Emperor of Germany is seen in the Froidmont quarry where US soldiers hid out in WWI

A caricature of Kaiser Wilhelm, the Emperor of Germany is seen in the Froidmont quarry where US soldiers hid out in WWI

Portrait of Wilhelm II (1859 - 1941), early 20th century. He was he last German Emperor and King of Prussia who ruled from 15 June 1888 until the end of World War I (November, 1918). He was the grandson of Queen Victoria of England

Portrait of Wilhelm II (1859 - 1941), early 20th century. He was he last German Emperor and King of Prussia who ruled from 15 June 1888 until the end of World War I (November, 1918). He was the grandson of Queen Victoria of England

Portrait of Wilhelm II (1859 – 1941), early 20th century. He was he last German Emperor and King of Prussia who ruled from 15 June 1888 until the end of World War I (November, 1918). He was the grandson of Queen Victoria of England

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, descends a ladder. The Froidmont quarry, nicknamed the quarry of the Americans, is managed by an association and may be visited by appointment only

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, descends a ladder. The Froidmont quarry, nicknamed the quarry of the Americans, is managed by an association and may be visited by appointment only

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, descends a ladder. The Froidmont quarry, nicknamed the quarry of the Americans, is managed by an association and may be visited by appointment only

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, walks in the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, walks in the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, walks in the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, climbs down into the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, climbs down into the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, climbs down into the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, points at American graffiti in the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, points at American graffiti in the Froidmont quarry

Gilles Chauwin, President of the Chemin des Dames association and WW1 enthusiast, points at American graffiti in the Froidmont quarry

Visitors climb down into the Froidmont quarry, a complex network of tunnels which became a refuge for US soldiers

Visitors climb down into the Froidmont quarry, a complex network of tunnels which became a refuge for US soldiers

Visitors climb down into the Froidmont quarry, a complex network of tunnels which became a refuge for US soldiers

Graffiti by an anonymous soldier, in Latin and blue ink reads: 'Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you'

Graffiti by an anonymous soldier, in Latin and blue ink reads: 'Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you'

Graffiti by an anonymous soldier, in Latin and blue ink reads: ‘Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you’

Carvings left by American soldiers of the 26th Division are seen among 1,000 inscriptions discovered in the Froidmont quarry

Carvings left by American soldiers of the 26th Division are seen among 1,000 inscriptions discovered in the Froidmont quarry

Carvings left by American soldiers of the 26th Division are seen among 1,000 inscriptions discovered in the Froidmont quarry

A German helmet in seen in the Froidmont quarry. In total, after 210 days of combat, 1,587 Yankees were killed and 12,077 were wounded. The survivors returned to the USA on May 3rd 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

A German helmet in seen in the Froidmont quarry. In total, after 210 days of combat, 1,587 Yankees were killed and 12,077 were wounded. The survivors returned to the USA on May 3rd 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts

A German helmet in seen in the Froidmont quarry. In total, after 210 days of combat, 1,587 Yankees were killed and 12,077 were wounded. The survivors returned to the USA on May 3rd 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts



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