'Back to the Stone Age'
the Flintstones on the Western Front


the Use of Caves in Northern France

from a Dutch magazine 'Panorama' - Germans using caves and quarries as shelter in France and Poland


During the Great War, armies not only dug trenches into the earth, but also built large and volumnous underground dug-outs, shelters, huts, storage-rooms, aid-posts and what not. In certain regions in northern France, most notably around Arras, Soissons, Rheims, the Chemin des Dames and other regions, thankful use was made of either natural caves or stone quarries. Many of such underground cavities were quite large, allowing shelter for thousands of men at a time, others were more modest in size but perfectly adaptable for use as living-quarters, often by the addition of a wall, windows and door.

The irony of a regression towards a more primitive mode of habitation was not lost on newseditors and photographers. Many magazines published photos of such dwellings accompanied by all manner of captions. While scorn might be heaped upon the enemy for living in caves, like primitive cave-men, the own troops might equally well be praised for the adaptive ingenuity of adjusting to difficult circumstances and making the best of things. It was all a matter of perspective.

The following links show a selection of photos and illustrations of war-time cave-dwellings. Most are from the early years of the war and come from newsmagazines on both sides.

see also several photos and paintings of quarries by Ernst Vollbehr


color illustrations from a German magazine : religious services in a quarry

Germans using an old stone quarry as shelter in France

French soldiers in a quarry near the Chemin des Dames


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