‘Tommies on the Aisne 1914’ is an exhibition which will be open from 16th April 2014 until 20th December 2014 at the Caverne du Dragon, Musée du Chemin des Dames, France. The purpose of the exhibition is to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the First Aisne. The exhibition will comprise of images, documents, artefacts which have been sourced from various sources, including Paul Kendall’s book ‘Aisne 1914: The Dawn of Trench Warfare’(Published by The History Press). The exhibition will tell the story of the BEF’s journey to the Aisne from the UK, via Mons and the Marne. It will highlight the entente cordial between British and French armies and their resilience and determination as they crossed the River Aisne under shellfire, established a bridgehead on the northern bank and then climbed the steep ridges of the Chemin des Dames where they fought the Battle of the First Aisne during September 1914.These exhausted soldiers had no knowledge whether the German forces would continue their withdrawal northwards towards Laon or hold the line.
The exhibition will enforce the fact that the first trenches of the Western Front that stretched across the European frontier were dug during Aisne 1914. Part of the exhibition will be set in a room within the museum which has panoramic views of the Aisne valley where visitors will be able to appreciate the enormity of the task that befell the soldiers of the BEF as they clambered up these heights. This exhibition will appeal to visitors who have knowledge of this battle as well to people who have no knowledge of the events that took place here a hundred years ago. This is a French initiative being funded by the French Government. Throughout the year various events will take place including lectures and walks of the battlefield to commemorate the centenary year of Aisne 1914.
La Caverne du Dragon, Musée du Chemin des Dames
Chemin des Dames – RD 18 CD
Telephone: 03 23 25 14 18
Paul Kendall served as an Honorary Midshipman with the University of London Royal Naval Unit from 1990 to 1994. He is the author of the best-selling The Zeebrugge Raid 1918: ‘The Finest Feat of Arms’, Bullecourt 1917: Breaching the Hindenburg Line and Aisne 1914: The Dawn of Trench Warfare. As anyone who has read those books will know, his research is of another order.
The Real First World War
First World War events
By Paul Kendall and The History Press