Along the Voie Sacrée

Inigo Thomas

The monument at Montfaucon d’Argonne, near Verdun, commemorates the American advance that began in September 1918 and ended with the signing of the Armistice on 11 November. George Marshall, after whom the Marshall Plan is named, drew up the order of battle for the American Expeditionary Force. More than a million American soldiers fought in what is known as the Hundred Days Offensive: 122,000 were injured; 26,000 were killed. The monument is a 180-foot-high Doric pillar made of granite; the figure of Liberty stands at the top, with its right arm raised. Before the tower are four flights of steps made of white stone which lead up to the column’s entrance. Walls to the left and right name the smaller battles on the road to 11 November and inside a spiral staircase goes up to the balcony at the pillar’s summit. Behind the monument is the shattered monastery of Saint-Germain, founded in the sixth century and destroyed in a German advance in the opening phase of the war. A few window arches and pillars survive. Some of the rubble was used to make a watchtower in what was the nave so that German soldiers had a better view of French troop positions outside Verdun.

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