The objective of this research is to provide new archaeological insights into World War I (WWI) training trench sites in France. These training areas, situated to the rear of the front line, illustrate how the military command prepared soldiers, physically and mentally, before they were sent to the front. The training areas reproduced the spatial and architectural organization of trench networks and thereby allowed soldiers to become familiar with the battlefield topography.
WWI training camps have never been studied extensively in France, although their presence is occasionally reported in the literature. They were in fact more numerous than archival records indicate, a function of the fact that they were created in an opportunistic and temporary way. To date, no archaeological or geohistorical research has been undertaken to determine their actual distribution, and this paper is a first step in developing this. To identify and map their traces in the landscape, the Pays d’Othe of the Aube region (Champagne) was studied using aerial photography flown in 1948. About 20 sites were discovered, indicating the high intensity of military occupation in the region between 1914 and 1919. Agricultural reparcelling, which began in the 1950s, has erased almost all traces of these remains.
- Training trenches
- Rear front line
- Pays d’Othe
- WWI archaeology