Orchard Dump
Webmatters : The Battle of Verdun 1916 : The Bois des Caures

Bois des Caures

The Bois des Caures today

The site of the opening battles for Verdun are easily reached to the north of Verdun. Take the D 964 northwards before turning right onto the D 905. After about six kilometres you will reach the memorial site and a small car park.

Decimal49.271465.40554 Map
The tomb and memorial to Lt Col Driant

The tomb and memorial to Lt Col Driant

Rough Map: Bois de Caures sites

Driant became a hero overnight and today you will find memorials to him and his men in the Bois des Caures.

There is a good parking area (with picnic table) an easy walking distance of the main sites connected with Driant. It can be found just after the memorial on the opposite side of the road. There is a very informative notice board with photos, a brief history and suggested walking routes.

The walks are through the forest so wear suitable shoes — especially if it has been wet.

On the far side of the road from the memorial you will see a footpath taking you to the location of Driant’s death.

A small monument marks where Driant fell

A small monument marks where Driant fell

This is the first of the two that you will reach and was built by a committee of his old soldiers presided over by Général de Castelnau.

If you follow the trail, for a further 500 metres, you will come to the location where the Germans buried Driant’s body in the wood. His personal effects were returned to his widow (via Switzerland) by Baroness Schrotter of Wiesbaden.

In a letter she explained :

My son, an artillery lieutenant who fought opposite your husband, tells me to write and reassure you that Monsieur Driant was buried with all due respect and care, and that his enemy comrades dug and decorated a fine grave for him…The grave will be looked after so that you can visit it when peace returns.

In fact, after the war, Driant was reburied — this time with French military honours — in the same spot on 9 October 1919. Then, on 21 October 1922 he was moved, for the final time, to the Bois de Caures monument on its inauguration.

The original burial spot

The Chasseurs Memorial

Driant's tomb at the foot of the monument

This memorial was raised to Lieutenant Colonel Driant and his two battalions by Souvenir Français in 1922. Driant is buried in front of the monument accompanied by thirteen unknown Chasseurs.

The memorial stone was carved by Grégoire Calvet and features a cross surmounting a field of smaller crosses. The cross in the foreground is bounded by a hunting horn — symbol of the Chasseurs (which means hunter in French).

Driant’s PC

There are two ways to reach the Command Post (PC: Poste de commandement), either from the monument or by walking up the road a short distance from the car park (towards Flabas) and then cutting into the wood.

Most of the pathways are in good order, but if it is wet underfoot, good boots are going to be the order of the day.

Trenches alongside the forest path

Remnants of old trench lines

The trail eventually leads to the command post.

Driant's command post

The pillars around the front carry the names of the Chasseur officers.

It is a very simple concrete bunker

Inside you realise that this was is a very simple concrete bunker

The PC is in the third line of defence and many of the wounded would have been tended here. The front line was in the wooded area on the far side of the road running towards Flabas.