17 March 2021

Aerial stereoviews of Vauquois

Category: Stereoviews   Tags: WWI
Aerial stereoviews of Vauquois - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

The village of Vauquois in France was the site of violent mine warfare during the First World War. The village was completely destroyed and many huge mine craters still remain today.

This post about the battlefield of Vauquois is the second part of two posts on aerial stereo photography during the First World War. For a brief introduction to aerial photography during the conflict I suggest to read this post first.

The German army captured La Butte de Vauquois on 24 September 1914 and the strategically important hill was turned into a fortress by the Germans, protected by their artillery in the woods behind it. Until March 1915, there was a battle to recapture the hill and the French recaptured the southern half of the now devastated village of Vauquois.

From that moment a static warfare started. Both armies dug in and the battle moved underground. Tunnels were dug under enemy lines on both sides and large quantities of explosives were placed and detonated. The hill of Vauquois became a huge ant's nest with underground rooms, shafts and corridors. The American army finally recaptured the hill on 26 September 1918.

Aerial stereoviews of Vauquois
The mine craters and trenches
9 x 18cm stereoview

The stereoviews have a size of 9 x 18cm and show the mine craters and trenches of the battlefield. The images of the destroyed landscape look like a lunar landscape. The descriptions on the slides show various valuable information, such as: location, compass direction, altitude and the date of 4 March 1917. One slide has a label with F44. It refers to Escadrille 44, the squadron of the French Airforce that took the stereo photos.

Aerial stereoviews of Vauquois
The mine craters and trenches
9 x 18cm stereoview
Aerial stereoviews of Vauquois

This is how the Vauquois battlefield looks today. The mine craters on the stereoviews are still visible today:

References:

  • De oorlog vanuit de lucht, B. Stichelbaut, P. Chielens, 2013
  • Information about Escadrille F44 (French)