A territory occupied throughout the Great War
The Ardennes in the heart of war
Following the invasion of Belgium, the German army entered the département of the Ardennes on the 21st of August 1914. In a manner of speaking, the Ardennes, Germany and war already went back a long way: 44 years before, almost to the day, the battle of Sedan put an end to the Franco-Prussian War. The next day, on the 2nd of September, France surrendered to its Prussian enemy.
In July 1918, the Germans were pushed all the way back to the Ardennes, until the final battles of the 10th and 11th of November, the date of the Armistice.
The last official victim
Both the land and people of the Ardennes were marked by the war. The name of a soldier who fell here, Augustin Trébuchon, who was killed by a bullet wound in the head on the 11th of November 1918, between 10.45 and 10.55 am, minutes before the ceasefire, went down in history as the last official victim of the First World War. His burial place can be seen at the cemetery of Vrigne-Meuse, in the Ardennes, where he fell.
52 months of occupation
The Ardennes was the only département to have been occupied for the duration of the Great War, with a total of 52 months under enemy control. The German army decided to locate its general staff and headquarters in Charleville, while the emperor Wilhelm II of Prussia established his residence in Mézières. The operations of Verdun and the Chemin des Dames were commanded from the Prefecture of Ardennes.
A book to discover: Circuits de Mémoire