August 24, 1918 – Full diary entry:
“Sent to P.A. Mountain Point which is in Support.
Went to Point 400 and saw our shells land in the German trenches.
On patrol tonight.”
I had been dreading this post for a few weeks, to be honest. I typically don’t look at upcoming posts and do research ahead of time, but this one is so specific that I really wanted to figure it out.
Robert has been in the trenches somewhere in a pretty big area for the last three weeks and it has bugged me that I couldn’t be more accurate. Basically, the line was roughly along the eastern edge of this forest, just west of Remspach and Rimbuhl:
Here’s that same area on a 1918 map, part of the 35th Division Association Records collection in the Harry S Truman Presidential Library. The American and French trench lines are in red on the left; the German lines are in blue on the right. Robert has been in here somewhere.
Yesterday I finally got serious about exploring this map for clues. Let me zoom in for you:
There’s Point 400, from which Robert got a good look at the German trenches. It must have been a wonderful view; while they were a little ways east of the nearby mountain peak (”Le Langenfeld-Kopf”), they were still quite a bit higher than the German lines.
Translating this 100-year-old hand-drawn map to today’s Google satellite maps is tricky, but here’s my best attempt. This is based on my admittedly amateur analysis of topographical maps and, let’s be honest, an inclination to say “that looks like a meaningful spot.”
I put Point 400 on the spot that now has a rental chalet managed by “Les Amis des Vosges Wittenheim.” Seems like this might be a place with a notable overlook.
As for “P.A. Mountain Point,” where Robert will be actually stationed for the next five days or so, I can only speculate based on a few “P.A.” notations on this map:
It’s also possible that every single assumption/theory/conclusion here is dead wrong. If so, I’d be thrilled to post a correction based on more educated opinions.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.