Moulin de Laffaux

Le moulin de Laffaut. Source :

Between the Aisne and the Ailette, a field of memorials and steles echoes the poems of Louis Aragon "Traveller, remember the moulin de Laffaux"

Between the Aisne and the Ailette, not far from the N2 (the main road from Soisson to Laon), a field of memorials and steles echoes the poems of Louis Aragon "Traveller, remember the moulin de Laffaux".

The taking of the position of the moulin de Laffaux was to be a stage in the mass offensive planned by General Nivelle, commander in chief of the French armies of the north and north west, in the Chemin des Dames sector. This offensive was responsible for 140,000 deaths in a few days. General Maistre's 6th army launched an assault on the plateau de Laffaux, to the south east of Vauxaillon on the 5th May at 4.45 am. The 1st Colonial Army Corps was charged with taking the Vauxaillon-Fruty sector. "Marsouins" of the 3rd I.D., cavaliers on foot of the 4th, 9th and 11th cuirassiers and foot soldiers of the 28th and 329th I.R., supported by the tanks of Lefebvre's task force, took the Cacatoès trench and advanced on the plateau de Moisy, taking the trenches of le Rossignol, Pertuisane and la Rade, as well as the Mennejean farm. The 9th and 11th cuirassiers both advanced from the moulin de Laffaux. Grenade offensives facilitated the taking of the trenches of le Môle, le Mousse and le Rouge-gorge, whilst Captain Robinet's tanks reached the vicinity of the quarry at Fruty and, on doubling back, overcame the last pockets of resistance in the moulin de Laffaux sector. Fighting started again on the 6th May at 4 pm. Supported by a barrage of artillery fire, the French army was engaged in the north eastern sector of Vauxaillon. The colonials were held in check at the Mont des Singes but the 4th cuirassiers took the position of the château de la Motte and the 9th cleaned up the Ravin d'Allemant. The German counter offensive was contained. After two days of fierce fighting, the position of the plateau de Laffaux was taken. 12 pieces of equipment were lost and 55 men put out of action, including 3 dead. Commemorative monuments pay tribute to the courage and tenacity of these soldiers who "Died for France".
Monument to the "crapouillots" (trench artillerymen) An imposing memorial in the shape of a mortar shell, this monument pays tribute to the 12,000 entrenched artillerymen who died between 1914 and 1918 on the French and Eastern fronts. "Crapouillot" is the name given to the French trench mortar because of the projectile's curved shape that resembles a leaping toad or "crapaud". Monument to the marine fusiliers Erected in 1938, this construction is dedicated to the battalion of marine fusiliers who fought at the moulin de Laffaux on the 14th September 1918, at a cost of heavy losses: 18 officers and 430 company men killed. A few metres behind this monument is the entrance to the Fruty quarry which still bears the scars of the fighting of the 14th September 1918. Monument to the stenographers Monument dedicated to the memory of French and allied stenographers who died for their country. Monument to the 4th cuirassiers This monument was erected to bear witness to the valour of the 4th, 9th and 11th Cuirassiers. Monument to General Estienne This stele, a tribute to General Estienne, the "father of French tanks", is a reminder that during the fighting of the 5th and 6th May 1917 at the moulin de Laffaux, the first heavy tanks, Schneider and Saint Chamond, were used - 32 Schneider and 16 Saint-Chamond tanks.
Monument to the 9th regiment of foot cuirassiers This monument is in memory of Captain René de Chasteignier, Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre (War Cross); of Lieutenant Michel Wagner, Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre; of Sub-Lieutenant Jean-Luc de Carbuccia, Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Croix de guerre; of the officers, sub-officers and cavaliers of the 9th Regiment of Foot Cuirassiers who died for France during the victorious assault of the moulin de Laffaux, on the 5th May 1917. Georges Damez Memorial "On the 19th August 1917, after an aerial battle 400 metres from here, the aeroplane of Pilot sergeant Georges Damez of squadron SM 106, who was awarded the Croix de guerre and with two citations to his name, was shot down in flames. A reverent tribute to his memory ". Maurice Thiriez Memorial "Here, on the 7th May 1917, fell gloriously Marshal des logis Maurice Thiriez of the 9th Cuirassiers, a great Christian and a great Frenchman ". Frédéric Taillefert Memorial "Frédéric Félix Taillefert, 21st Company of the 4th mixed Regiment of zouaves and fusiliers. An elite machine gunner, who proved during the offensive of the 23rd October 1917 (battle of la Malmaison) his heroic bravery and even rarer courage in leading the waves of assault and facilitating their advance using fuelled and fine-tuned fire. Fallen gloriously near the village of Chavignon. Marshal of France at army Headquarters on the 9th April 1919, commander in chief of the French armies in the east, Pétain". Henri Dupouy Memorial "In memory of Henri Dupouy, a teacher from Dax, who fell here on the 7th May 1917 at the age of 25".

  • Le monument des crapouillots. Source : SGA/DMPA - JP le Padellec

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