Chemin des Dames

Cerny-en-Laonnois

Reaching the crest at Cerny-en-Laonnois you come to this small chapel which has become the main memorial to those that died during the offensive.

The chapel is not an official memorial but privately erected - as is the chapel at Rancourt on the Somme.

Memorial Chapel at Cerny-en-Laonnois

Inside you will find numerous plaques dedicated to units or individuals.

The first thoughts of providing a chapel here were put forward in 1930 but nothing came of them. After the Second World War, in 1949, Abbé Herlem and the Veterans from the Aisne formed a committee to raise a memorial - to further the reconciliation of people by the memory of their sons killed on opposing sides of the battlefield.

It is here that veterans and officials come to remember the battle and fallen every year.

In many ways it is ideal, for French, German and British soldiers fought here and Italian and Russian soldiers not far away in the valleys - representing five of the belligerents.

On 8 July 1962, during a private visit to the German Cemetery, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was met by President Charles de Gaulle in what became a precursor to the Franco-German Treaty of 1963.

In front of the chapel is a white lighthouse and behind, two cemeteries, one French the other German.

Traditionally the village is considered the birth place of Saint Rémi, the Bishop of Reims who baptised the first Christian King of the Francs: Clovis in 499 (who made Paris his capital in 506).

 

The 90th Anniversary: 16 April 2007

Throughout the night of the 15/16th the 20 kilometres of the Chemin des Dames was illuminated by searchlights flashing at intervals to represent the final bombardment of the night.

This area of the front line was attacked by the 2nd Colonial Corps of General Mangin's 6th Army, and all those years ago the soldiers from Africa were drenched and frozen to the marrow by the filthy weather. Ninety years on the morning mist cleared and the temperature soared into the high twenties.

In front of the Chapel is a plaque commemorating the deeds of the 38th Division.

Cerny and the French Cerny and the French
 

Click on the thumbnail, it may take a moment for the photo to load

The interior of the chapel Some pf the plaques The 90th Anniversary The Minister for Veterans Affairs The Standard Bearers and CD2C behind
Click on the thumbnails for a larger picture Prayers were conducted in French, Arab, and Hebrew The British Military Attaché Honouring the Colours of the 1st RAMa They continue playing even if I don't look
 
1st Loyal North Lancashire

1st Loyal North Lancashires

On the main road at the junction is a memorial to the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire regiment who fought in the area during September 1914.

In attempting to force the ridge on 14 September 1914 the British were to confront many of the same problems as the French in 1917.

The Germans had the better observation points were well dug in and at this stage of the war the British did not have the artillery available to support such a frontal attack.

The 1st Loyal North Lancashires were part of General Haig's I Corps, serving in the 1st Division, and they saw bitter fighting in this area.


In the immediate area.

Cerny and the British Cerny and the British
The Cemeteries The Cemeteries
Cerny and the French Cerny and the French

Continuing along the Chemin des Dames towards the Caverne du Dragon you will see a small monument on your left.

The 2nd Colonial Corps The 2nd Colonial Corps