Montfaucon Memorial


The World War I American Monument is located 10 kilometres south of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and about 32 kilometres north of Verdun.

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery

It commemorates the American victory during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during the period September 26, 1918 to November 11, 1918, when the American First Army forced the enemy to conduct a general retreat on this front.

Approaching the monument

It consist of a massive granite Doric column, surmounted by a statue symbolic of Liberty, which towers more than two hundred feet above the war ruins of the former village.

The American Monument at Montfaucon

The observation platform on top of the memorial is reached by two hundred and thirty-four steps and gives out onto superb views of the battlefield.

Below, in the crypt is a descriptive map and narrative.

The ruins of the village church

Immediately behind the Monument can be found the ruins of the village church.

German observation post

Amongst the ruins you will find an observation post built from stones taken from the church.


A Gamble that lost

The Meuse-Argonne offensive was part of the Hundred Days which had begun on 8 August 1918 and would end with the German's signing the Armistice on 11 November.

Throughout the spring of 1918 the German General Ludendorff had committed his armies to full scale assaults on the allied lines: on the Somme, in Flanders, in Champagne and on the Marne. The Germans had made notable gains, especially on the Somme, but ultimately the Allied lines had managed to hold.

The last of these offensives had taken place on 15 July 1918 in Champagne and had been repulsed by French and American troops.

Why the worry about the Americans

It was these American troops that Ludendorff feared. Not so much in themselves, but in their numbers and scale of equipment. The German General Staff knew all too well that they had to smash the Allies in 1918; by 1919 American troops would swing the balance in numbers. As to equipment, whether, guns, aircraft, or even food come to that, the British naval blockade on Germany would have reduced its capabilities yet further.

The civilian population of Germany was suffering hardships that the troops in the front line were all too aware of. German industry could not get hold of vital raw material to produce war materials in the quantities required.

Thus for Germany, it was now or never but Ludendorff's gamble: The Kaiserschlacht had been played and lost. The Allies were striking back - and hitting hard.

General John Pershing, Commanding the US Forces may not have agreed that his men were fully ready but he recognised the moment (In July he had initially refused to allow Americans to take part in the Australian led battle at Le Hamel).

The Americans Gather

North of Verdun are a number of ridges providing excellent observation and allowing for domination of the surrounding areas. Some of these like Mort Homme and Vauquois had seen bitter fighting for years. After Vauquois came the ridges of Montfaucon and then Romagne and Cunel. It was these three ridges that The Americans were set to capture.

The Germans had built a strong defensive position to a depth of about 20 kilometres using the lie of the land to its utmost.

Under cover of darkness 200 000 French troops were slowly withdrawn from the assault lines and replaced by 600 000 Americans. The Germans do not appear to have suspected anything until it was too late. At 02:30 hours on 26 September 1918 the American artillery opened up with a three hour bombardment of the German front lines. At 05:30 hours the assault was launched.

Vauquois was finally mopped up by the US 35th Division , its lunar landscape stunning the young American soldiers.

Vauquois and the underground war Vauquois and the underground war

V Corps now moved northwards to the left of Montfaucon and III Corps to the east. Although caught by surprise the Germans put up some resistance and it would not be until midday on 27 September that Montfaucon was in American hands.

The delay in taking Montfaucon had allowed the Germans to push in reinforcements who fought for every metre of territory. It would take until 14 October for the two Corps to finally take Romagne and Cunel.


There are other easily reached American State Memorials nearby.

The Missouri Memorial at Cheppy The Missouri Memorial at Cheppy
The Pennsylvania Memorial at Varennes The Pennsylvania Memorial at Varennes