During the second half of the First World War, among others, the valleys of the Sensee and Cojeul were a particularly dangerous sector mainly because of the presence of the famous "Hindenburg Line" (British name: "Hindenburg line", "Seigfried Stellung "for the Germans," Grande Tranchée" sometimes for the French).
The villages on or around the Hindenburg Line crossing, after more than two years of occupation (since early October 1914), will undergo many changes : first by the German occupation in itself because of the providing engineering necessary for communications, transport of troops and equipment, hospitals, cemeteries ... Then, by the creation of the Seigfriedstellung which forces the Germans, in addition to the line itself (construction started late September 1916) who will not fail to scour our territory, made further changes in the sectors concerned : roads, bridges, railroad tracks, prison camps (70000 men will be attached to the construction : prisoners Russians, Belgians ... Germans, professional or military, civilians ...), processing plant .... And last but not least because of the total destruction of the area between March 1917 and September 1918, during which time the Hindenbrug Line will be under almost uninterrupted fire until the Anglo-Canadian victorious August-September 1918 offensive. 100 days, Hundred Days Offensive).
The rebuilding of the 100% devastated area will only start in the early 1920s with people returning from all over France, who had the courage to find their home braving the prohibition to rebuild areas classified "Red Zone" ).
The Hindenburg Line Museum will offer you the possibility to follow the actors of this local history.
- 2-4 October 1914 : German invasion of the sector - Fighting against the French army at Guemappe, Wancourt, Neville-Vitasse - beginning of the German occupation.
- September 27, 1916: Beginning of the construction of the Siegfried Stellung (Hindenburg Line - Ligne Hindenburg - Grande Tranchée).
- October / November 1916: First British observation of the installations.
- February 9, 1917: Operation Alberich (German strategic retreat on the Hindenburg Line accompanied by the destruction of the abandoned sector.
- February 22-23, 1917: British discovery of the German retreat and start of pursuit.
- Mid-March 1917: British pursuit operations with the help of cavalry and cyclist troops, all villages between the old and new German positions are deserted, destroyed, burned ...
- March 17, 1917: Croisilles burns, very important resistances around the Hindenburg system.
- March 20, 1917: Our sector is now in range of the British artillery, the first allied shells fall on our villages (after those of the French in October 1914).
- April 2, 1917: Croisilles is taken by the British.
- April 9, 1917: Battle of Arras, the first Battle of the Scarpe, the sector is plunged into a flood of steel, the line is established north of Fontaine Les Croisilles (Wancourt - Neuville Vitasse - Henin on Cojeul).
- April 10, 1917: Battle of Bullecourt (Anglo-Australian attack) - very heavy losses for all troops engaged south of Fontaine les Croisilles facing the wall that constitutes the Hindenburg Line in this sector.
- April 23, 1917: Second Battle of the Scarpe, an important British assault by the north of Fontaine-les-Croisilles, some gains, near the villages north of Fontaine (Cherisy, Guemappe ...).
- May 3, 1917: Attack (British and Australians) on Bullecourt, Fontaine and Cherisy sectors during the third battle of the Scarpe.
- May 16, 1917: End of the battle of Arras.
- June 15, 1917: Attack on "the Ilsand" (postions of the Hindenburg Line still in the hands of the Germans) between Fontaine les Croisilles and Bullecourt.
- July 1917 - March 1918: In the idea of keeping up the pressure on the Germans, many minor British punctual actions, or more important in diversion to other actions such as November 20, 1917 (Battle of Cambrai ...).
- March 21, 1918 - July 18, 1918: Offensive "Michael" or "Offensive Spring" ("Spring Offensive"). The whole sector returned to the hands of the Germans because of a major offensive leading to a 20km incursion in the British sector. The situation reverts to positions after the outbreak of the German Alberich plan of February 1917.
- August-September 1917: "The Hundred Days Offensive" (Anglo-Canadian attack). Release of the sector on August 26-30, 1918.
- 20s: Reconstruction.
Second World War:
- May 1940: New sporadic fights during the Second World War. Beginning of occupation and acts of resistance.
- September 1944: Release of the sector.
- Today: relics remain present, signs of 4 years of war are still visible,
The Hindenburg Line Museum will propose you to discover even more ...
Victoria Crosses : Arthur Henderson VC, Michael Wilson Heaviside VC, Horace Waller VC, David Lowe MacIntyre VC, David Philip Hirsch VC, George Howell VC, Rupert Vance Moon VC, William Clark-Kennedy VC, Ernest Beal VC, John MacLaren Erskine VC (VC won at Givenchy in 1916 - kiled at Fontaine les Croisilles)... and others and others...
Celebrities : Seigfried Sasson, Enst Jünger, Manfred Von Richthofen (the Red Baron), The Kaizer Guillaume II, the king Georges V, Haig, Ludendorff, Hindenburg, Kronprinz Ruppercht, Winston Churchill, Georges Vanier...
You will discover their common history to our little piece of France...