Jean-Paul de Vries runs a very interesting private World War One museum in the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon in the Meuse region of northeastern France – the Romagne ’14-’18 Museum (in France, World War One is typically called the 14-18 War). It is the exact opposite of typical modern museums, as it has a massive number of artifacts on display with almost no printed explanation. It is also unusual in displaying almost exclusively recovered artifacts of the war, the majority of them have been left on the fields or buried for decades. You will not find new specimens here; you will find remnants of war and weather.
That may sound dreary to some, but to me it is a very interesting way to approach the war and its history. You know that every item in this museum was actually used on the field of battle, and that can provide some interesting insights. For example, the American .30-06 Chauchat automatic rifles here indicate, contrary to most printed sources, that those guns were actually used in combat actions by American soldiers and not just for training. Tired of museums that have great open rooms with a single item on a glass case in the center? Then this is one place you will really appreciate!
The museum is an entirely private operation, and includes a small restaurant for sandwiches and such, and a shop offering books, reproduction items, and original artifacts for sale. If it located near the huge Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, and I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling in the area with an interest in the Great War.
I wanted to convey to you that this video was important to me on a personal level. I had a great uncle who was killed in action in the Battle of Romagne on October 31, 1918. He was a Private, Company F, 60th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division, U.S. Army, AEF. I believe he was originally buried at the American Cemetery there, but in 1921 his remains were returned to the U.S. and he is now buried in a local cemetery in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, with other members of his family.
I very much appreciate what you are doing on your channel, although at present I’m too broke to support you on Patreon; you do have my moral support, and the support from my eyeballs watching your videos.
Thank you for the tip, next season!
If you haven’t been, the museum at Meaux is well worth a visit.
Did anyone else notice how many of the canteens, etc were obviously pierced by bullets or shrapnel? The extent of the carnage is well documented but seeing artifacts like these makes it easier to understand the tragedy that comes with war (the benefits, when war is necessary, would be the subject of a different discussion).
Most of these items were not discarded. They were dropped by the dead and the wounded, probably close to where it happened. Preserving these things in a museum like this one honors their memory and sacrifice.
This is how I would love to see more museums look. It is awesome! If I ever make it to France it will be on my list of things to see. Thanks for the great job you do!!
Thanks for the video Ian. My family and I visited the museum in 2015 and also walked some of the surrounding battlefields with Jean-Paul and his dog Darius. Would highly recommend it to anyone touring the WW1 sites.
In addition the American cemetery is a must visit, although its heartbreaking to see the number of soldiers that died so close to the end of hostilities.