Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Battle for the Hartmannswillerkopf (Vosges) January 1915

The Vosges 1915

The actions in the Vosges formed an integral part of Joffre's offensive strategy during 1915.  The French intention appears to have been to hold the ground between Switzerland and Cernay and to focus their southern Western Front operations in the Vosges along the Fecht valley towards Colmar.  With the French left flank secured on the summit of the Tête des Faux, following its capture and the repulse of the German counter attacks in December 1914, the emphasis turns to the right flank of their intended operations.  As General Putz, commander of the Army of the Vosges, stated in late 1914:

‘My main thrust will be along the valley of the Fecht and particularly in the area south of the valley. My first objective is to establish to the south-east of the heights of Guebwiller a front which will enable me to threaten a line from Colmar to Mulhouse with my artillery. This means that Cernay must be taken and that the enemy must be held at sufficient distance from the Thann to Belfort road to ensure the security of this line of communication; this in its turn means that the Kahlberg peak and the Pont d'Aspach must be taken’.  (Source: An Unfortunate Region)

The Front Line in the Vosges 1915 (Source: 14-18 No 26 Jun/Jul 2005)

Battle for the Hartmannswillerkopf Jan 1916
Following the failures of the French attacks down the Thur valley towards Cernay in December 1914 initial French plans for 1915 envisaged a breakthrough by the 66th Infantry Division into the plain at the Hartmannswillerkopf supported by diversionary attacks at Aspach-Burnhaupt, by the 57th Infantry Division (south of Cernay) and further north at Munster and the Linge by the 47th Infantry Division.  This plan is thwarted by a pre-emptive German attack on the Hartmannswillerkopf on the day of the intended French attack (19 January 1915) ......

The Hartmannswillerkopf (Le Vieil Armand), 956m above sea level, north of Cernay is a natural balcony that overlooks the plain and dominated the 1914 front line that ran between Thann and Cernay.  Having been occupied by the French 28th Battalion 'Chasseurs Alpins' (BCA) in December 1914 it became the focal point for the conflict in the Vosges during January 1915.  Only when seeing the domineering view (illustrated below) is it possible to appreciate how important contol of the Hartmannswillerkopf was to both sides.

View of the plain from the Hartmannswillerkopf (Courtesy of Gwyneth Roberts)

In January 1915, the peak of the Hartmannswillerkopf was occupied by a French detachment from the 1st Company, 28th Battalion (BCA).  At this time there was not a continuous line of trenches dividing the adversaries on this section of the front.  Cover was largely natural and trees dominated the landscape.  On 4th Jan, the German 8th Company, Ldw. Inf. Rgt. 123 and elements of the Landsturm Bataillon Heidelberg attacked the peak but were pushed back following a bayonet charge by French reinforcements arriving from Silberloch.  The Germans tried again on 9th Jan preceded by an artillery barrage that started at 10.40hrs.  At 13.30hrs a full Battalion from the Ldw. Inf. Rgt. 123 attacked the French position, again without success.  French snipers hiding in the trees (called ‘baumaffen’ [tree monkeys] by the Germans) inflicted heavy losses on the assaulting German units.  Having been repulsed twice the Germans decided to use their most seasoned active units to conquer the summit.
German Attack on the 4 Jan 1915
Hartmannswillerkopf Capitain G. Goes
1st Company, 28th Battalion (BCA) position on the 4 Jan 1915
Hartmannswillerkopf Capitain G. Goes

By this stage the French detachment, now increased to Company strength, was cut-off and surrounded.  Second Lieutenant Canavy, the French Company Commander on the summit, had readied the position for a siege.  Trenches had been prepared for all round defence, food and ammunition had been re-distributed, and a small reserve store was set up close to Canavy’s Command shelter.

Following the first two attacks and under cover of darkness the Germans had entrenched their positions and laid barbed wire to make it difficult for French reinforcements, coming up from the valley, to relieve the summit.  On the 19th the Germans tried a third time to capture the summit.  The 1. Rheinische Inf. Rgt. Nr. 25 captured the Hirtzenstein, a rocky outcrop located at 570m above sea level, below the southern slope of the Hartmannswillerkopf which was considered to occupy a key position to allow the capture of the summit.  Various German units participated in the main assault; elements of Ldw. Inf. Rgt. 119 and 123, the battalion of ‘Chasseurs’ from 14. Großherzoglich-Mecklemburgische Jägerbataillon, and the Uhlans from the 42nd Cavalry Brigade (fighting dismounted).  Despite repeated assaults the Germans failed to take the summit.  Elements of the French 13th and 27th BCA moved up from the valley in full view of the well prepared German positions and attempted to break the siege on the summit.  They failed and during their attempt the Commander of the 13th BCA, Le commandant’ Barrie, was killed.  The Germans then threw new units into the battle, elements of Inf. Rgt. NR. 84 (“von Manstein”), the 1. Thüringische Inf. Rgt. 31, and the 89. Schweriner Grenadiere.  Still the French held on.
Situation on the 19 Jan 1915  11:30hrs
Hartmannswillerkopf Capitain G. Goes (French Translation 1934)
German attack - French counter-attack 19 Jan 1915

On the 21st Jan the French tried again to relieve their forces on the summit.  A mass attack was launched by the 13th, 27th, and 53rd BCA, with heavy casualties being taken by both sides.  The Germans gained the upper hand through the use of a Minenwerfer’ (the predecessor to the mortar that could fire a 4.5 kg projectile between 300 and 1000 meters) that had been dragged up the icy slopes of the mountain.  Having stopped the French relief attempts the Germans then turned the Minenwerfer’ on the Summit destroying the French Command shelter, the reserves of food and ammunition, and killing Second Lieutenant Canavy.  During the subsequent German assault, which was beaten off, the French defenders used the last of their ammunition.
On the 22nd Jan the remains of the French 1st Company, 28th BCA on the Hartmannswillerkopf, exhausted having lost two thirds of its manpower, without food and ammunition, was forced to surrender.  The Germans believed they were attacking a strong French Garrison and were amazed to find that the summit had been held by only a handful of men.

Hartmannswillerkopf summit in 1915
The summit was then in German hands and each side had lost over 1,000 men.  But this was only the start of the battle for the Hartmannswillerkopf. The two sides began to consolidate their positions.  Shelters were cut in the rock and ammunition and first aid stations were set up.  Access roads were constructed and the Germans went as far as building two cable cars to facilitate re-supply.  On the German side more than 1,000 workmen took part in constructing the defences and more than 170 mules were used to transport the heavy loads.  For the Germans the Hartmannswillerkopf was key ground and the work on their defences and the tenacity of their defence for the remainder of 1915 reflected this.  To be continued.....


Saturday, September 24, 2011

British Aerial Photography and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - Pt 9

Back to Part 8

RFC Photographic Sections Formalised

Within the month the experimental photographic section at First Wing was declared a success and following the section’s report recommendation a photographic section was established at the HQ of each of the now three RFC Wings.  The original photographic section was tasked with creating and training the new sections at the other two Wings.  The centralisation of the photographic processing and printing at Wing level streamlined the RFC’s aerial photography processes ultimately widening the dissemination of the raw printed photograph (A ‘raw’ photograph is a photograph issued unanalysed, having yet to go through an interpretation process).  The centralisation also provided another key benefit; each photographic section was charged with maintaining their Army’s History of [photograph] Coverage (HOC).  The HOC comprised a record of every exposed negative which was to include; the negatives unique number, the exposure date, time and place, the exposure altitude, the atmospheric and light conditions, the shutter speed and photographic stop used.  The outline of each photograph was plotted on a map and cross-referenced to a file system (Finnegan, Shooting theFront, pp. 46 - 47).  A comprehensive, coherent and searchable HOC would prove pivotal in realising the potential of photographic interpretation; it would not be long before HQ’s at most levels began keeping records and copies of the aerial photographs that covered their areas of interest.  What was lacking though was a process that facilitated an understanding of what the photographs contained.  Gone was the ad-hoc approached practiced by Darley who had spent many hours at Division and Corps HQ pointing out and explaining the detail visible in his photographs to uninitiated Staff Officers.  The scale of the new photographic operation made the personal approach that much more difficult.  Recipients had to develop their own photographic interpretation skills and as a result during much of 1915 many recipients viewed aerial photographs as little more than very accurate maps.

The New Intelligence Source

One of the beneficiaries of this new intelligence source was Lieutenant Colonel J. Charteris, General Staff Officer (GSO) I Intelligence at First Army HQ.  Aerial photographs had been coming into First Army Intelligence in slowly increasing numbers since the start of the year.  In a diary entry dated February 24 1915, probably during the planning for the battle of Neuve Chapelle, he wrote:

‘My table is covered with photographs taken from aeroplanes.  We have just started this method of reconnaissance, which will I think develop into something very important.’.  John Charteris, At G. H. Q. (London, Cassel &Company, 1931). p. 77.

At this stage of the war the mapping of areas behind the German lines was the responsibility of the Intelligence staff.  The techniques of revising detail and plotting German defences from aerial photographs onto the available maps had been developing over the previous months and by the end of February the RFC’s pioneering photography work coupled with Laws’ camera training had enabled First Wing to photograph the entire German trench system in front of First Army to a depth that ranged from 700 to 1,500 yards.  The result was a fairly complete picture of the German tactical dispositions.  This tactical picture, which was regularly updated, was used by Haig to plan the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.  Additionally 1,500 copies of a 1:5,000 scale map overlaid with an outline of the German defensive system were specially printed and issued to each of the attacking Corps (Figure 6).  Crude compared to later standards (see Figure 8) the maps represented the first true COP ever taken into battle by a modern British army.

Figure 6.  Neuve Chapelle 1915.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

British Aerial Photography and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - Pt 8

Back to Part 7

RFC Experimental Photographic Section

Coincided with Darley’s initiative, Field Marshal Sir John French received a courtesy copy of some aerial photographs taken by the French air arm and a map on which the German defensive positions had been draw using information derived from the aerial photographs.  These photographs were passed via General David Henderson, the commander of the RFC in France, to his Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel F. H. Sykes.  Sykes had seen some of Darley’s notes on photographic mapping (The National Archives, AIR 1/2395/255/1, 3 Squadron notes on aerial photography. 1914 Dec. - 1915 Feb), and realised that the French were producing better photographs than the enthusiastic amateurs of the RFC.  As a result early in 1915 Major W. G. H. Salmond, then a staff officer at HQ RFC, was tasked to liaise with the French photographic organisation.  Salmond’s subsequent report outlined a highly centralised technically proficient photographic organisation being operated by the French.  As a result of the report, an RFC experimental photographic section was established, by the middle of January 1915, and sent to First Wing which at the time was commanded by Colonel Trenchard.  The section commanded by Lieutenant J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon had three other members; Lieutenant C. D. M. Campbell, former Sergeant now Sergeant-Major Laws and 2nd Air Mechanic W. D. Corse.  Their role was:

‘. . . to report, after experience in the wings, on the best form of organization and camera for air photography.’ Jones, The War in the Air Volume 2. p. 88.

The new section’s real challenge was to build an aerial photographic intelligence aware military culture.  As Moore-Brabazon pointed out:

‘It was exceedingly difficult to get anybody to appreciate what we were trying to do, or use the information we got.  In fact Colonel Trenchard carried about with him photographs of the enemy trenches which he pushed before members of the army staff who only viewed them with the mildest interest inspite of the fact that they were planning attacks on the very areas about which we could give them information.’. Medmenham Collection DFG 1471, J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, Letter to Squadron Leader Mayle, School of Photography RAF, (25 November 1959).

It would take the battle of the Somme in 1916 to finally move aerial photography from a novelty collected by Staff Officers as souvenirs to a pre-requisite for any military operation.

Moore-Brabazon and Campbell set to work on the design of a camera that could be operated in a moving aircraft.  The result, the hand held ‘A’ type (Figure 5) manufactured by the Thornton-Pickard company, was first used over the German lines on 2 March 1915.

Figure 5.  An ‘A’ type camera being handed to an observer of a FB5.

Operating limitations, the need to lean out of an exposed aircraft cockpit and operate a camera that required eleven distinct operations for each exposure with thick gloves or numbed fingers, combined with the need for vertical photographs for mapping purposes, led to the fixing of the camera to the aircraft.  This was only possible when the key challenges of distortion due to aircraft movement and vibration caused by the aircraft motor necessitating fast shutter speeds, 1/125 of a second, were overcome.  By the summer of 1915 when the ‘C’ type camera became available fixed semi-automated aerial photography had been achieved.

Laws and Corse were left to operate the new Wing photographic laboratory that they improvised in a cellar under the châteaux that housed First Wing’s HQ.  A process was rapidly established whereby exposed photographic plates were brought in from the RFC squadrons by despatch riders to be developed and printed.  As Laws stated:

‘It was not long before a steady stream of prints were being sent to the army formations.’Laws, ‘Looking Back’, p. 30.

In addition to establishing the Wing photographic laboratory Laws was tasked to train the pilots and observers in First Wing in aerial camera use.

Next: Part 9 ‘RFC Photographic Sections Formalised

Thursday, September 15, 2011

British Aerial Photography and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - Pt 7

Back to Part 6

The Beginnings August 1914 to January 1916.

The early weeks of the First World War were a war of movement, and during this stage the aircraft on all sides performed about as expected, as long range scouts keeping commanders appraised of the enemy’s strategic movements.  Following the First battle of the Marne (6-9 September 1914) the character of the war began to change, aerial reconnaissance began to shift from recording movement to surveillance and artillery direction.  On 15 September 1914 Lieutenant G. F. Pretyman, a pilot from 3 Squadron, took five photographs of German artillery positions on the Aisne with his own hand held camera (Eaton, APIS Soldiers with Stereo. p. 3.).  Although of dubious quality they demonstrated that aerial photography was possible in a combat environment.  During First Ypres with aerial photography still failing to impress, sketch maps of enemy trenches and gun pits located by aerial reconnaissance were issued by GHQ intelligence.  The stalemate of the trenches brought new challenges to aerial surveillance.  Surveillance required repeated flights, over both the immediate front and well to the rear, to detect changes to the German dispositions, and any movement or build-up of forces or logistics.  Whilst flights monitoring German rail, road and river movement could be captured by the human eye and noted down the German’s intricately evolving trench systems proved more problematic.  Only the camera could provide the definitive view corroborating or correcting the aircrew’s visual observations.

At this stage of the war the impetus for aerial photography innovation rested at the junior officer level.  Lieutenant Charles Curtis Darley, a Royal Artillery (RA) officer serving as an observer in the RFC, was the most enthusiastic photographer in 3 Squadron.  During the autumn of 1914 Darley had set up a dark room in the stables of a château where the squadron was billeted and purchased chemicals from Béthune for photographic processing.  Using his own Aeroplex camera, fitted with a 12-inch lens, he slowly collected photographic coverage of the German lines on the Fourth Corps front and following processing painstakingly assembled all the photography to build up a mosaic of the German defence system.  On this photographic map he carried out the interpretation and identified and annotated all the salient points of interest, showing the latest developments in the German defensive positions.  The mosaic, completed during January 1915, was intended for use by the squadron for planning and reporting purposes but the squadron commander, Major J. M. Salmond, was so impressed that he took it to Corps Headquarters (Eaton, APIS Soldiers with Stereo. p.3.).  The mosaic created quite a stir as it clearly illustrated:

‘. . . how the information on the photographs could be reproduced in a form intelligible to all officers.’.  H. A. Jones, The War in the Air Volume 2 (Oxford, Clarenden Press, 1928) p. 89.

Here was a picture showing the enemy dispositions that a General could relate to and understand.  The detail the photographs provided and their ability to bring the front immediately to the map table made converts of those who where to use it.  It would not be long before the interpretation of aerial photographs became an essential element of battle planning.

With the onset of trench warfare and the corresponding change in the tempo of operations, the British corps commanders Generals Haig and Smith-Dorrien began calling for RFC squadrons to be put at their disposal for observation and photography work.  When the BEF formally split into two armies on 26 December 1914 the RFC decentralised.  By January 1915 it had been split into an RFC HQ and two RFC Wings, comprising of a least two Squadrons and commanded by a full Colonel, each allocated to an Army.

Friday, September 9, 2011

British Aerial Photography and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - Pt 6

Back to Part 5

Netheravon Concentration Camp - June 1914

With the threat of war looming, the RFC gathered in June 1914 at a ‘concentration camp’ at Netheravon, Wiltshire for a trail mobilisation and practice flying, that included aerial photography, over Salisbury Plain.  At the end of July, Laws was mobilised and transferred to 3 Squadron at Netheravon.  Flying as a passenger in a Henri Farman piloted by Lt. T. O. B. Hubbard he set off from Farnborough to join 3 Squadron with the Watson camera installed in the nose of the aircraft.  At 3,000 feet over Odiham the aircraft’s engine failed, forcing a crash landing that wrecked the aircraft and camera but fortunately left Laws and Hubbard unharmed.  The RFC had lost its sole aircraft adapted to carry a fixed air camera.

The Birth of British Photographic Interpretation

Three days later the art of photographic interpretation within the British military was arguably born.  Laws again a passenger in a Maurice Farman aircraft, took photographs using a press-type camera of a parade taking place at Netheravon.  When Laws developed the photographs he noticed that he had captured on the photograph a Sergeant Major chasing a stray dog off the parade ground.  The tracks of both the dog and the Sergeant Major were clearly visible in the grass, owing to the angle of the light on the crushed blades.  These marks were still visible in a photograph taken some days later (Laws, ‘Looking Back’, pp. 25-29.).  Samples of the photographs taken by the RFC during their practice flying were published in Flight Magazine during June and July 1914.  Figure 4 illustrates the high quality of one of these photographs, the circle on the photograph highlights four wagons the target of this particular reconnaissance mission.

Figure 4.  Reconnaissance target (4 wagons) 15 Jun 14, 2,000 feet.

On the 7 August 1914 Laws left Salisbury Plain for France.  He expected to be fully occupied taking photographs of enemy positions, the reality was somewhat different.  The RFC that deployed to France, equipped with only six cameras, had little appetite and arguably little need, at least initially for photography.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Linge (Lingekopf) Vosges France.

A cross, marking the grave of an unknown French soldier, viewed through a German rifle shield on the Linge.

A dead Frenchman viewed through a firing port (Schießscharte) on the ‘Schratzmännele’ 1915.

During a walking holiday (2011) in the Vosges mountains I stumbled on some of the best preserved trench architecture currently on the Western Front.  For most British Great War enthusiasts the Vosges is that forgotten section of the Western Front, the section where French units went to rest and recuperate after being mauled elsewhere.  This perception is correct for 1916 onwards but the battles in the region during 1914 and 1915 matched the intensity of those further north, in addition they were fought on terrain that makes the British sector to the north appear very benign.

The Linge viewed through a German scissors rangefinder 1915.
This trench architecture is located at the Linge (Le Linge - Lingekopf) Museum.  The Linge is a spur some 983 metres high, situated to the east of the main ridge that runs between the Weiss and Fecht valleys.  The German army had occupied the Linge (the Lingekopf as they called it) in September 1914 and by July 1915 under the cover of dense pine trees had constructed a series of blockhouses and bunkers interconnected by a maze of tunnels and trenches protected by belts of barbed wire.
The Linge Trench Plan.

German Front Line Trench (Linge).

Blockhouse (Fort Carré) on the Linge.

Inside Fort Carré.

Many of the bunkers and much of the German trenching are incredibly well preserved and is still easily accessed.  Standing in the German trenches looking down towards the French front line, no more than 10 metres away, left me both stunned an in awe.  Stunned that an assault was attempted against such a well prepared position; in awe of the men who carried out the assault.

View from the German Front Line.

The French Front Line (Marker).

Lt Albert Drangmeister, Platoon Leader with ‘8.Kompanie Bayerisches Landwehr Infanterie Regiment 1 (8./BLIR 1)’, picture taken 22 Jul 1915 prior to the French attack.  He was killed by a grenade during the French noon attack at the Linge on 22 Jul 1915 and is buried in a mass grave at the Bärenstall (Hohrod) German Cemetery. (Text courtesy of egbert)
Because German occupation of the Ligne hindered French communication between the upper Weiss and upper Fecht valleys, and as part of a flanking manoeuvre to capture the town of Munster, the French attacked the Linge and the associated heights of Schratzmännele (1010m) and Barrenkopf (980) on 20 July 1915.  The attack was controversial at the time* and involved the French infantry descending from the heights, crossing a marshy valley, and scaling steep rock-strewn slopes under withering fire from a well hidden, by the dense pine trees, and entrenched enemy.  French re-supply proved problematic, and depended on a 12 mile mule trail.

The Second Battle of Munster - July to October 1915.

Between 20 July 1915 and the end of October 1915 the fighting swayed too and fro with the peaks of the Linge, Schratzmännele, and Barrenkopf changing hands several times.  By the end of 1915 the line had stabilised, the Germans had retained hold of the summits with the French lines in close proximity, a status quo that existed until the end of the war.

Walk Overview - Google Earth 3D View.

There are numerous historical walking routes around the Ligne the one I followed went from the museum car park south past the Ligne memorial following a moderately steep path through the trees towards the Schratzmännele summit.  Turning right at the summit it is possible to discern within the foliage a maze of trenches, tunnel entrances, fortifications and blockhouses many carved into the rock.

Trench on the Schratzmännele.

Continuing along the path heading south east you come across a blockhouse guarding a trail that drops steeply into the ‘small’ Schratz quarry.  Below the quarry the path continues down swinging south to the tree line at the base of the Barrenkopf.  At this point the German trench line, running north-south, is clearly visible within the tree line; to the east no more than 10 metres away is the French trench line.  This junction was known as ‘La Courtine’ and here there is an option to continue south and climb the Barrenkopf or as I did to turn east (right) and head across a shell cratered meadow (the ‘prairie’) towards the Hurlin (1000m), the location of the French command post during the assault on the Linge.

Contemporary picture of La Courtine 'prairie', Schratzmännele on the left. Note the exposed French trenches. La Courtine was the point used by the French to attack both the Schratzmännele and Barrenkopf.

Contemporary view of exposed French trenches on the 'prairie' overlooked by the Schratzmännele.
(Courtesy of egbert)

Contemporary view from the Schratzmännele south towards the Barrenkopf, winter 1915. The La Courtine 'prairie' falls away to the right. Note the proximity of the Front Line trenches.
(Courtesy of egber)

View from La Courtine across the 'prairie'. The Hurlin is visible behind the tree.

Skirting to the south of the Hurlin takes you down to the French Military Cemetery known locally as the ‘Cimetière des Chasseurs’ or the ‘Cimetière du Wettstein’ where more than 3,500 French soldiers are buried.  From here the route continues out the back of the cemetery along a forest trail that skirts around the base of the Linge before branching right and climbing fairly steeply through the trees on the Linge’s reverse slope to the Hohrod German War Cemetery where 2,438 German soldiers are buried.  It was only as I walked around the base of the Linge that I began to fully appreciate how difficult the French assault would have been.  The route then follows the road back to the Ligne museum.

The Hurlin.

Cimetière de Wettstein.

Hohrod German War Cemetery.

*General de Pouydraguin following a personal reconnaissance stated that he ‘consider [ed] as highly adventurous and ill-omened, an offensive made through several miles of very steep, wooded ground, at high altitude, where the action of [his]  artillery would be made inaccurate through a lack of observation . . .’  (The Linge 1915, Memorial du Linge, p. 6.)

Further reading:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front

If you are planning a visit to the battlefields of the Western Front then this website (Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front) has to be your starting point.  It combines contemporary material (pictures, aerial photographs, and trench map extracts) with photographs of how the various Western Front battlefields appear today along with enough text to place the various battlefields in context and help you navigate around them.  The amount of material available can appear a little daunting and at times same’ish’, and you may find that navigating round the site can at times be frustrating but you would do well to persevere, it is a veritable ‘GOLD MINE’.

The ‘Quick links’ page (probably the best starting point) takes you to the first page in your selected region (e.g. ‘ALSACE VOSGES’ takes you to ‘Col du Bonhomme’).  You can then navigate sequentially through the pages using the next link at the bottom of the page (a bit of a pain).  Alternatively from the menu labelled ‘Rubrieken’ on the left hand side of the webpage select the region you are interested in, this will take you to a summary page/s illustrating the place/s covered within the region you selected.


Once on this summary page you will see that the menu labelled ‘Logs’ (under the ‘Rubrieken’ menu) will list the place/s covered by your ‘Rubrieken’ selection.  Simply select the place you are interested in to navigate to it.

Listed below are the region categories Pierre has used on his site along with a list of the places covered within each region:

Chemin des Dames

Zillisheim, Illfurth, Largitzen, Pfetterhouse

Col du Bonhomme, Col de Mandray, Tête de Faux - Buchenkopf, Col du Wettstein - Schratzmännele, Lingekopf - le Linge, Kleinkopf - Barrenkopf, Hohrodberg-Giragoutte-Trois Epis, Reichackerkopf, Munster Valley, Petit Ballon, Le Tanet - Bichtstein - Villa Sidi-Brahim, Route des Crêtes, Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand, Guebwiller - Rimbach - Hirzstein, Moosch Nécropole Nationale

Tête du Violu - Bernhardstein, Chaume de Lusse - Haute de Faîte, Ban de Sapt - La Fontenelle, Senones - la Roche Mère Henry, Col de la Chipotte - de la Chapelotte, Avricourt - Leintrey (Lorraine) - Reillon - Montreux - Parux, Montreux German Front Walk

Mort Homme Côte 304, Montfaucon- Romagne s/s Montfaucon, Butte de Vauquois, Haute Chevauchée, l'Abri du Kronprinz - the Crown Prince’s Bunker

Neuve Chapelle - Richebourg, La Targette - Cabaret Rouge, Notre Dame de Lorette, Loos, Aubers Ridge - Fromelles, Arras, Wellington Quarry, Vimy Ridge, Lichfield Crater

The area between Bapaume and Cambrai

St. Hilaire, le Grand Russian Cmty, Mont Navarin, Sommepy, Mont de Blanc Mont, La Main des Massiges

Verberie, Néry, Villers, Cotterêts, First Battle of the Marne Locations, Belleau Wood - Château Thierry, Second Battle of the Marne Locations

Les Eparges Ridge, Calonne Trenches, Apremont Forest Trenches, Butte de Montsec, Rémenauville Lost Village, Fort Troyon

Auchonvillers, Mine Craters Lochnagar and Hawthorn, Thiepval Memorial, Mouquet Farm, Thiepval Wood, Ovillers La Boiselle, Hawthorn Ridge, Beaumont Hamel, Redan Ridge, Newfoundland Memorial Park, Serre - Hébuterne, Sheffield Memorial Park Serre, Gommecourt, Fricourt Deutsche Kriegsgräberstatte, Contalmaison, Mametz Wood, Trones Wood, Montauban, Guillemont, Caterpillar Valley, Longueval, High Wood Longueval, Delville Wood Longueval, Pozières, Martinpuich, le Sars Butte de Warlencourt, Flers Gueudecourt, Adanac Canadian Cmty, Mireaumont

Bouchavesnes, Rancourt Cimetière National, Rancourt Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, Dompierre - Becquincourt Fay Soyécourt, Flaucourt Biaches

The Citadel, Thiaumont - PC 118 & 119 - A 320, Road To Fort Douaumont, Fort de Douaumont, Douaumont Nécropole Nationale, Côte Froideterre - Les 4 Chéminées, Fort de Souville, Fort de Vaux, Tunnel de Tavannes Fort, La Voie Sacrée, Bois des Caures - Col. Driant's C.P., Flabas German Reprisals Camp, Camp Marguerre, Duzey German 380mm Artillery Base, Destroyed Villages Bezonvaux - Ornes, Azannes I & II Soldatenfriedhof: Romagne-sous-les-Côtes - Damvillers - La Grande Montagne USA Memorial - Consenvoye

Menin Road, Railway Wood, Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood, Hooge, Clapham Junction, Zandvoorde Bunker, Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Zillbeke, Hill 60, Hollebeke, Lankhof Farm Bunkers, Messines Ridge, Pilkem Ridge, Boezinge, Essex Farm, Ziegler Bunker, Langemark, Poelkapelle, St. Juliaan, Passchandaele Ridge, Wijtschaete, Mount Kemmel, Lettenberg Bunkers, Ploegsteert Wood

Nieuport, Ramskapelle, Pervijze, Stuijvekenskerke, Diksmuide, Trench of Death, Leke, Vladslo, Houthulst