Cavene du Dragon, Museum of the Chemin des Dames
The Caverne du Dragon, or Drachenhöhle, during the First World War, from early 1915 onwards, German troops invaded a stone quarry that had been exploited starting in the 16th century, on the Chemin des Dames in the Aisne Department. The cavern was more than just a makeshift shelter. In fact it quickly became a strategic military location. One of the legends that may have inspired the Germans to call it the Dragon's Cavern is the presence of weapons at each of the seven entrances, ready to breathe fire like a seven-headed dragon.
During the war, former stone quarries were often converted for use by the army, particularly in the Aisne plateaux in the Soisson region. When German soldiers won the Caverne du Dragon from the French, they gained the upper hand. The Cavern was a strategic location, from which surprise attacks and retreats could be made on the Chemin des Dames, a ridge road overlooking the Aisne and Ailette valleys. Protected from the cold, despite the severe dampness, the Germans converted the Cavern into a veritable barracks with sniper positions and electricity. While the dead were piling up in the trenches, the Germans were creating an extensive camp in the underground galleries, including dormitories, a chapel, a well, a first-aid station and even a cemetery. In addition to serving as protection against gunfire and gas attacks, the stone walls were adorned with the souvenirs of the soldiers at rest, such as drawings and messages written in candle soot and other engravings. To while away the time, some soldiers carved objects from bullets and spent shells.
On 25th June 25 1917, shortly after the tragic failure of the Nivelle Offensive, French soldiers scored a victory by taking back the Caverne du Dragon. Little by little, they pushed the Germans deeper into the cavern. From July to October 1917, the two enemy camps set up their internal borders, each side on constant guard against surprise attacks. The slightest noise in the cavern could mean the enemy was sneaking up.
Opening times 10.00am - 6.00pm from September to June. Closed on Tuesday mornings.
In July and August open between 10.00am and 7.00pm.
Open on public holidays.
Closed from 17 December to 17 January.
La Caverne du Dragon, Musée du Chemin des Dames
Chemin des Dames - RD 18 CD
Tel: +33 (0)3 23 25 14 18
Fax: +33 (0)3 23 25 14 11
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org