Between May and June 1918 the German army launched a huge offensive on the Marne – the “Second Battle of the Marne”. German troops attacked and captured many districts whose populations had been evacuated, before finally reaching the river Marne in June 1918. Allied forces engaged in the fighting suffered heavy losses. Military hospitals overflowed with all sorts of wounded men. The whole region was laid to waste, and the centre and other districts of Château-Thierry were pounded by artillery fire then destroyed in street fighting. Essômes-sur-Marne (south of Château-Thierry) and its hamlets, Bouresches, Brasles and all the surrounding villages were in ruins. Many brave American soldiers (the Summies) were killed in this fighting.
After the war, the American authorities decided to erect a large commemorative monument in the Château-Thierry area. The chosen site was Cote 204, scene of fierce fighting in July 1918. It has wide views over the Marne valley. The project was entrusted to a French-American architect, Paul Cret. He designed an immense double colonnade, both sober and imposing, standing on a majestic, landscaped terrace. Two colossal statues, France and America hand in hand, and the American eagle, take up the East and West sides of the monument. Inscriptions in English and French recall the different battles and pay tribute to the American soldiers who died in the war: “TIME WILL NOT DIM THE GLORY OF THEIR DEEDS”.
Below, a large map of the region shows the advance of American troops from 18th July 1918. In front of the map a viewpoint diagram shows the directions and distances to points of historical interest.