The following extract is
from “Le Linge – Tombeau des Chasseurs” by Francois Tisserand, Published by the
association du Memorial du Linge.
Tisserand served as a
Chasseur in the 70e Bataillon and fought on the Linge and Schratzmännle. He was
wounded on the 12th of October 1915 during the attack by elements of
the Sturm Abteilung and I.R. 187. An account of this attack can be found HERE.
Although the book is
entitled “Le Linge” the peak of the “Schratz” was an integral part of the
battle for the “Linge”.
Above: A French Map showing the Schratzmännle in August 1915. Please note, North and South are Left and Right on this map. The blue pencil line show the French positions, the purple line shows the German Lines. North (to the left) the lines continue to the Lingekopf, to the South to the Barrenkopf.
The Linge - Tomb of the Chasseur
Early that morning a
soldier arriving from the Col de Wettstein informed us that the battalion would
be pulled out of the line on the 15th of October. The “Poilu” were ecstatic.
“Just three more days then
we will see the girls of Plainfang!”…. “It will be my turn to go on leave!”
We started a card game and
money began to change hands.
Outside all seemed calm, a
fine rain and cold covered the mountain, it was unpleasant weather but we
thought the day would be calm and without incident.
At about 16:00 we heard
machine gun fire. A Chasseur went outside and returned right away with a
“Oh damn, oh damn!”
“The whole summit of the
Schratz is on fire, and there are lots of explosions!”
Suddenly we could hear it,
the sounds of a hand grenade battle. Our artillery began a barrage, aiming for
the enemy rear area.
Left: Francois Tisserand (Middle) in 1971 with other Veterans of the battle on the Linge
Coming down the mountain a
lightly wounded Chasseur shelters briefly in our trench. He informs us that the
Chasseur of the 1e and 6e Companies of the 30e B Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins
(B.C.A.) had been attacked with flame throwers. He had been wounded in the arm
and leg with fragments of hand grenades in a failed counter attack.
“The Germans greeted us
with hand grenades, we could not advance. A number of friends were killed,
quite a few wounded. I can still walk; I am off to the aid post. Tell me, where
is the trench leading to the Wettstein?”
We point out the way and
the Poilu of the 30e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins (BCA) disappears into the
night. I thought he was lucky to be lightly wounded.
Now, under our tarpaulin we
are silent, we listen to the bursting hand grenades and rifle salvoes in the
Night has long fallen when
a Sergeant of the 30e passes.
“Chasseur of the 70e, get
your gear, you are to reinforce us”
enthusiasm, we begin the ascent towards the forward positions. The progressions
is slow, along sections of communication trenches and in the open we advance.
Our small group marches with the sergeant who guides us across a tangle of
debris just below the summit. A few rounds, probably ricochets from the rocky
“Schratz” whistle past. I stick to my friend like a shadow.
We arrive in a trench
filled with Chasseur of the 30e, they are standing, manning the firing slots. I
thought we were surely going to help them hold the position and pass a terrible
night in the front line. What bad luck.
“Fix Bayonets!” “What? Bayonets?”
We fixed our “Rosalies”,
but why for God’s sake?
In the darkness, deep in
the trench, we could only see silhouettes, in spite of the flares.
Accompanied by a handful of
men an officer with a battery powered torch passes in front of us.
He says simply “Follow me,” .
Right: Commandant Julliard, the officer with the torch
We, the men of the 70e,
mechanically follow him and his small group of men, presumably grenadiers of
the 30e. We advance 25 or 30 meters along the trench then turn into a
communications trench which goes up towards the summit. I see the flash of the
torch and think “He does not seem afraid… we cannot be far from the Boche!”
Grenades fall around us like a hail storm. Cries, pleading, in the trench it is
a massacre. Some Chasseur flees, pushing each other out of the way, my friend
jumps out of the trench into the open to escape the killing. I follow him but
lose contact. I am confused, them a flash as a grenade explodes at my feet. I
fall, thinking I have been hit in the jaw. A reflex action, I launch myself
forward making for closest part of the trench. Impossible, my left foot is limp
and does not support me. I fall; my hands and eyes are burning. 10-15 meters, I
crawl and fall head first into the Trench.
I lay there, barely able to
move. Did I call for help? Maybe, I cannot remember.
My friend Delhomme once
told me “If you are wounded, don’t call for your mother, she will not come;”
I did not call for my
mother. Poor mother, if she could see me now!
I had managed to distance
myself a bit from the epicenter where the grenades are still exploding one
after the other. Just ahead of me where the trench joined the communications
trench something was burning. I could not see well, I had sand in my eyes. I
thought they may be flares which had caught fire and were burning on the
ground. I could move no further. Suddenly I was grabbed by the arms and pulled
into a shelter. My foot hurt terribly. All around me was darkness. I heard
voices and the men began to bandage my hands.
My terror subsided. Me,
always scared, I had no time to feel fear. Maybe that is what bravery is.
I felt safe. I felt at
ease. I did not suffer that badly, I think I slept, maybe drifting into
I heard salvoes in the
distance, then dawn arrived and I was aware of my surroundings once again.
There were Poilus around me. I asked one to write to my mother which he
promised to do that very day. I found out later that he had kept his promise.
That is the comradeship of
the trenches, the fraternity of the Poilu.
I want to commemorate the
bravery and devotion of the Chasseur dear reader, describing the circumstances
of my wound.
Why do I do it? Why my
wound? There were many who suffered more than me on that night. Over 30 of us
were killed on that terrible section of the Linge.
Another episode on the
terrible Linge, a massacre which served no purpose.
It is the Tomb of the
The Linge, 1045m high,
Scenes of an incredible holocaust.
Thank you men of the 30e,
thank you Chasseur Cornet Augustin, without whom I would certainly have bled to
death, swallowed by the chaos of the Schraetzmaennle along with comrades, along
with your commander, probably buried there in a communications trench with his
launching an attack at the head of his men the brave officer lead with no more
than “Follow me”.
(Commandant Julliard was in
fact seriously wounded ant transported to a German aid station where he died on
the 13th of October. He was the 4th Commander of the Battalion to be killed
within a few short weeks).
Later in the morning two
medics from my battalion came to fetch me. The new Captain arrived with them.
One of the medics removed my boots and the fractured Tibia was bandaged. I was
carried through the communications trench on a shelter half, the journey was
almost comfortable as we descended the Linge. Upon reaching the bottom I was
transferred to a stretcher. All was calm in the sector, no artillery, not even
a rifle shot.
Around noon I found myself
surrounded by stretchers at the divisional aid post at the Col de Wettstein.
A medic was giving tetanus
shots, in the stomach, another distributed soup.
A doctor, covered in blood
but still smiling checked my dressings as he chatted.
“Nothing serious sonny, don’t
worry, all will be alright, you will be evacuated tonight”
On the morning of the 14th
I fell into a deep sleep under a mask of cotton wool dowsed in ether, delivered
into the hands of the chief surgeon of the hospital installed in the Hotel du
Lac de Gerardmer. When I woke up my hands and legs were encased in white and I
felt like vomiting but at the same time I wanted to cry for joy having escaped
the slaughter on the Linge.