Tracing Military Ancestors
WWI French & US Frontline:
Location 1 – French National Tank Monument, Choléra Crossroads, Berry-au-Bac (Aisne/Chemin Des Dames Sector)
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What Cambrai is for the British Royal Armoured Corps, this area is for the French Tank Corps – the location of the first major assault in their history. Standing with your back to the memorial, the Schneider tanks of Commandant Bossut moved forward from the left to attack the German positions up ahead on the right on 16th April 1917 as part of the disastrous Nivelle Offensive. Unfortunately, these early tanks were unreliable and many broke down shortly after crossing the start line. Those that made it further were met by heavy fire from the German lines. Altogether nearly 100 of the 128 attacking tanks were lost, including that of Commandant Bossut. The memorial itself was opened in 1922 in the presence of General Estienne known as "the father of tanks" and a ceremony is held here each April. A Panhard armoured car and an AMX-13 light tank of 1950’s vintage flank the memorial.
All photos © Mark Sluman. Click on image for full size.