Mémorial des chars d'Assaut

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Mémorial des chars d'Assaut. (c) Inventaire général, ADAGP

Erected at the Le Cholera Crossroads, a crucial point in the attack of 16th April 1917, this granite monument is the work of veteran Maxime Rél del Sarte.

The French assault tank, a new armoured motorised weapon mounted on caterpillar tracks, was used for the first time in the offensive launched by General Nivelle at Chemin des Dames (Ladies' Way). The models used were the Schneider and Saint-Chamond from Mazel's army.

During the first offensive on 16th April 1917, 128 Schneider tanks, divided into two groups, were tasked with piercing the eastern sector of the front, between Corbeny and Berry-au-Bac. Being too heavy, they quickly became bogged down and as their fuel tanks were not sufficiently protected, they were easy targets for the German artillery. This was a cruel and bloody day for these pioneers of assault artillery. Of the 720 officers and men of the crews, 180 were killed, wounded or reported missing. Among the dead was the commander of this brave group of men, the much admired leader, Pierre Bossut, whose tank was hit by a shell. He was buried by his men on 18th April in the small cemetery at Maizy. 52 tanks were hit by enemy artillery (35 of these caught fire): 15 were direct hits and 37 indirect. Plus 21 machines were immobilised by breakdowns, either mechanical or due to the terrain (sinking). Used once again in October, in the Bohéry quarry sector, these tanks cleared the trenches at Casse-Tête and Leibnitz as well as the Vaudesson ravine. Tank Memorial
Erected at the Le Cholera Crossroads, a crucial point in the attack of 16th April 1917, on land acquired in 1921 by the assault artillery veterans' association, this granite monument is the work of Maxime Rél del Sarte, himself a veteran. The memorial was inaugurated on 2nd July 1922 by General Estienne, the father of the tank, alongside Marshal Foch, Marshal Pétain, General Mangin and General Weygand. In 1965, the site was given to the commune of Berry-au-Bac. Tanks from the 1950s can be seen there today. The body of Commander Bossut of the 151st infantry regiment, who fell at the start of the offensive in 1917, was found some hours after the events and brought back by his brother, adjutant Pierre Bossut of the A.S. 2. It was carried in a tank to Cuiry-lès-Chaudardes, where General Estienne, French "inventor" of the tank paid tribute before his funeral on 18th April 1917 at Maizy and his burial in the family grave at Roubaix. On 12th April 1992, on the 75th anniversary of the fighting in 1917, his ashes were reburied at the tank monument by General Woisard, President of the National Armoured Weaponry Union, alongside the Minister for Veterans. A commemorative plaque, behind the monument, pays tribute to him; "On 16th April 1917, after seizing the Le Cholera position in one blow, the 151st Infantry Regiment, under Colonel Moisson, continued its advance as far as the Béliers woods, supported by the tanks of Commander Bossut ."
Location: crossroads of the D1044 and D925 before entering Berry-au-Bac when approaching from Lanon on the A26

  • Berry-au-Bac Assault Tank Memorial. Source: SGA/DMPA - JP le Padellec

  • One of the armed sentinels at the Berry-au-Bac Memorial. Source: SGA/DMPA - JP le Padellec

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