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Webmatters : The Battle of Verdun 1916 : Quatre Cheminées

The Battlefield

Quatre Cheminées

This location, as well as the small fort of Froideterre, is located along the D 913B which runs from Douaumont towards Bras sur Meuse (on the main road north of Verdun — D 964).

Decimal49.199545.41070 Map
The Quatre Cheminées

The four chimneys served as a barracks for Froideterre


Completed in 1891 the Quatre Cheminées was designed as a barracks for troops defending the sector. Protected from heavy weapons by its twelve metre thick earthworks the inside is a simple sixty metre chamber. This provided space for about three hundred soldiers.

The routes to the rear lead directly down the Ravine des Vignes and into the village of Bras.

The shelter (abris in French) was bombarded and as the front came ever closer the location became a Brigade Headquarters as well as a First Aid Post. During the night stretcher bearers and American ambulance volunteers would evacuate the wounded, away from the shelter, down towards the relative safety of Bras.

It all looks very pristine today

On 20 June 1916 the Germans attacked Fort Froideterre, a kilometre away (accessible via a lane way opposite the Quatre Cheminées).

Heavy artillery pieces up to 380 mm began shelling the area and on 23 June 1916 Bavarian infantry managed to reach the roof and entrances of the shelter. For four days they dropped grenades down the chimneys which served as ventilation shafts.

They were eventually beaten off by a counter-attack by the 114e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins, supported by the 75mm turret gun from Froideterre a short distance away.

Although the shelter continued to be intermittently bombarded until the end of September 1916 it never suffered any real damage.

The view from near the entrance

On the far slope you will find the two entrances to the shelter.

Almost into the trees near the entrances is this memorial to Captain Pierre Cazalls de Fondouce of the 1er Régiments d’hussars, who was killed at Froideterre on 8 August 1916.

Memorial to Captain Pierre Cazalls de Fondouce

Memorial to Captain Pierre Cazalls de Fondouce
The barrack entrances can be seen behind