An Unknown Battlefield Monument

During the first week of August, the 1st Inf. Division and members of the Big Red One Commemorative Unit wearing the WWI U.S. Uniforms, took part in various ceremonies near Soissons, on one of the battlefields of the First Division.

In that occasion, between the two villages of Coeuvres et Valsery and St Pierre Aigle (see Fig 1), we were to discover an unknown WWI monument (not mentioned in any book nor map) that still stands in the forest.

The monument, made of stones, has a commemorative tablet on its front that says "First Division July 18th, 1918" on its back are the marks leaved by two WWI Helmets and other things. On the top of the monument there is a hole in which a wooden cross certainly used to be. Unfortunately nothing remains of those items.

This Commemorative monument stands here (in the 1st Brigade's area) to remind that the Big Red One launched its attack from that point, an attack that was to be know as "2nd Battle of the Marne".

The village of Coeuvres et Valsery is further in the bottom of the valley. All around there are hills and inextricable woods, then a few miles away in the direction of Soissons there is a flat ground, many miles large, then a ravine, another flat ground and another ravine... However the American soldiers managed to clear those natural obstacles and defeat the enemy, but casualties were very heavy.

Fig: 1 Map of the 1st Inf. Div.'s battlefield from July 18th to 22nd, 1918. (dark area)

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© Big Red One Commemorative Unit IdF - 1998