Fighting here from 20 September 1914 until 21 March 1915, the men of the 302nd RI are memorialized. This is Point X which was the focal spot for horrific fighting that took place over months here in the Meuse Heights above the Woevre Plain to the east. The broad overlook of that plain from here demonstrates the importance from an observation standpoint the position carried.
The tree-lined road that leads from the parking lot to Point X is the Avenue de la Contessa de Cugnac. She gave money for the avenue’s construction and for the trees that border it in memory of her late fiancé who died here in the fighting. Trenches are present on both sides of the road – French to the left and German to the right.
This monument, dating to 1935, remembers the actions of the 106th and 132nd RI here at Les Eparges between September 1914 and April 1915. “Je Crois” is the inscription – “I Believe”. The monument is topped with a death mask looking towards heaven. Beseeching skeletal hands and skull mark the base of the pyramidal-shaped monument. These two regiments attacked here on Les Eparges 17 Feb 1915 following the detonation of a huge mine. The Bavarian defenders withdrew from their first trench line when the attack began. Their artillery already knew the coordinates of this trench line and poured in shellfire upon the French attackers. That deluge and a series of counterattacks over the next several days destroyed the two regiments – the 106th lost 300 killed, 300 missing and over 1,000 wounded. This regiment would be given reinforcements and was sent back into the attacks pointed towards Point X in March and April. Lt Maurice Genevoix, a survivor of the 106th experiences at Les Eparges would later write a story about it entitled, “La Morte” – “Death”.
This cemetery signals your entry onto the battlefields of Les Eparges along the lower slopes of the hillock. Du Trottoir contains the remains of 3,000 soldiers – 85 unknowns buried together in an ossuary. Information panels describe the course of the fighting in and around Les Eparges and trails lead up through the woods to the various monuments with plenty of other war detritus to see along the way. The road also continues up the hill to the various monuments if walking is not your thing. By car, you climb up to the hill winding past monuments and huge mine craters to a small parking lot near Point X.