Photos WW1 French & Allied Forces

A terrier shows off its catch after a 15 minute rat hunt in French trench.

Encyclopedia - Voie Sacree
La Voie Sacree, the "sacred road"La Voie Sacree - which came to be called the 'sacred road' and was simply called 'La Route' at the time - comprised the main road supply artery used by the French Army and which ran from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun.
Some 60km in length and with an average width of 7 metres this minor road, surfaced with crushed stone, saw a continuous, congested stream of army supply vehicles pour bumper to bumper into Verdun once the French government determined at an early stage that the ancient city was to be held at all costs against a ferocious German offensive launched in February 1916.
The German Verdun Offensive - geared as a means of 'bleeding France white' by Germany Army Chief of of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn - ultimately resulted in almost one million casualties, around half of which were fatalities. France's determination to retain control of Verdun was matched by von Falkenhayn's resolve to capture it; the failure of the latter ultimately cost Falkenhayn his job.
The task of maintaining the vital supply route to Verdun - designated as such and overseen by Henri-Philippe Petain from March 1916 - fell to numerous Territorial divisions (numbering 8,000 men in all), who patrolled its length, constantly repairing road defects as they arose.
Meanwhile seven Nieuport aerial fighter squadrons were positioned to similarly defend the road - which was divided into four zones - from aerial bombardment from several small airstrips established for the purpose. German artillery nevertheless engaged in constant remote bombardment.
A separate light railway system was also operated as a means of directing troops and supplies into Verdun, but La Voie Sacree (a name coined after the war by writer George Bernanos) remained the key route throughout 1916.
As an indication of the importance of the route selected statistics tell a startling story: up to 90,000 troops travelled via the road each week, together with around 50,000 tons of ammunition in 12,000 trucks. Traffic continued day and night with trucks moving at an average speed of 25 kilometres per hour. Trucks which broke down were rapidly hauled off to the side of the road in order not to halt the advance of supplies - which were predominantly artillery in nature.
The French were ultimately successful in defending and maintaining the road - adding some 700,000 tons of additional crushed stone by the end of the battle, most of it dug by German prisoners of war. The Verdun Offensive finally called off in failure by the Germans in December 1916. German failure coincided with the dismissal of Falkenhayn and his replacement by the effective combination of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, both freshly arrived from a successful campaign on the Eastern Front.
The road is today maintained as a national monument by the French government.

Verdun, February 21, 1916 at 7:15 a.m., the first shots from the 1,291 guns opened fire, 2 million shells, or 3,800 per minute, and the bombardment was felt as far as the Vosges, 150 km away.
Reconnaissance pilots discovered an unimaginable line of fire, a real hell.
The poilus try to survive under this flood of iron, under these shells raising enormous waves of earth.
Everything around is thrown into the air, shredded tree trunks, branches, stones, beams, trench elements, pieces of cannons, rifles, human bodies in tatters. Thick smoke mixed with unbreathable dust replaced the air.
The wounded scream in the crash of the shells.
At 16 pm , six hundred thousand Germans, that is to say 8 divisions with many flame-throwers, came out of their trenches and advanced on the French positions.
Some units crossed the first positions without realizing it, the ground was so upset that no visual detail makes it possible to know that there was a trench at this place.
They discover a terrifying spectacle, nobody could have survived that ...
But, to their great surprise, some Frenchmen survived and do not give up, despite the fact that some of the poilus are deaf, black with dust and mud and half mad, they find the strength and courage to look for and rearm a rifle.
As in the Bois des Caures or the heroic resistance of Lieutenant Colonel Émile Driant's chasseurs ,they will fight at 1 against 10,sometimes at 1 against 20 and yet only 300 to 400 chasseurs remain out of 1,300 after the bombardment, but they will hold out until the arrival of reinforcements, sometimes even making counter-attacks opposing incredible resistance at the end of the day,the bombardments increase.
The next day, Driant's men were subjected to another equally violent shelling, but they held out, the Germans did not get through.
The Battle of Verdun had just begun and would last 10 months.
It would claim more than 600,000 victims.

WOW, again.....Great photos you've found and posted, thanks for sharing!!
Naval fusiliers on the Belgian front, September 1914

The men of Admiral Ronarc'h, who held Dixmude alongside other Allied units for far longer than they were expected to.

The 6,000-men strong Brigade held the city alongside 5,000 Belgians against some 30,000 German soldiers on October 16th. 10 days later they would be reinforced by 2,000 riflemen of french Colonial Marine Troops and the proper Battle of Dixmude would begin. The French and Belgian forces were expected to hold the city for 4 days, they held 3 weeks, against 50,000 German soldiers.

At the end of the battle, the 2 Colonial Marine Battalions stood at 400 and 11 men alive respectively, one with only a single Captain left as the sole surviving officer, 411 men out of 2,000.
The Brigade of Marine Fusiliers' losses were also significant with 510 dead, 1,934 wounded, and 698 missing in actions or taken prisoners, or 2,858 combatants remaining out of the 6,000.

During the battle, the Allied flooded the region turning the city into an artificial island and turning the tide of the Battle of Yser in their favor.

To recognize the Brigade's sacrifice, they received their unit's flag from the hands of the French President and the Minister of the Navy.
Considered one of the most prestigious battle flags in France today, it is the 3rd most decorated Regimental Flag of the French military and serve as the Regimental Flag of the Marine Fusiliers and Commandos Naval Force (Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos), regrouping all the infantry units of the French Navy, regular and special forces.
View of two French 'poilus', both wearing rudimentary M2 gas masks, as they cautiously emerge from an underground bunker somewhere in France in 1918. The second French soldier seems to be holding an already obsolete Fusil modèle 1866 'Chassepot', a bolt action breech-loading rifle from the Franco-Prussian War era of 1870–1871. He also has a huge M1866 bayonet attached, identifiable from its curved blade. Both soldiers are wearing steel the Casque du modèle general Modèle 1915 'Adrian' helmet. The M15 on the soldier on the left has the emblem of the Gènie (Engineers, with the breastplate emblem) while the one on the right has the emblem of the Infanterie (Infantry regiment, with the flaming bomb emblem). (Photo by Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

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My guess is that the rifle is the Fusil Mle 1874 Gras. The Mle 1874 Gras was produced as a new rifle in its own right as well as being converted from the Mle 1866 Chassepot. It was given a very slight update in 1880 resulting in the Mle 1874/80 or, in the case of the earlier rifles, the Mle 1866/74/80. They supposedly didn't see front line service with the French Army on the Western Front but they were used extensively as second line rifles with support troops. Many were sent to Russia where they saw some use. Also, they were sent to the Belgian Congo for use by the Force Publique during the Great War. Arguably, their most common use with front line infantry during the Great War was with the Greek Army.

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French infantry and Saint-Chamond tank in the trenches, 1917.
French troops and trucks on the "Voie Sacrée", the supply line that played a vital role during the Battle of Verdun.
Portuguese Infantry near Locon, Pas de Calais, France. Note the distinctive ribbed helmets. 24th June 1917
1914: French cavalry patrol composed of Dragoons and Chasseur à Cheval on a dusty road, France
French crossbowmen WW1. These were used to toss grenades called "Grasshoppers" into enemy trenches. Rate of fire - 4 shots per minute. Effective range - around 125 meters.
Austro-Hungarian prisoners being escorted to the rear by Italian cavalry, 1915.
A French soldier smoking in a trench dug in a cemetery.

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