In the forest high above the Col de Bagenelles is a beautiful mosaic created by German soldiers in the Great War. Its text identifies the creators as Landsturm Friedberg and it depicts a proud, growling crowned lion bearing a sword. It is the Hessian Lion – Btl Friedberg was a Hessian unit.
(The edge blur is because the precious mosaic is protected by a shelter.)
In the woods in front of the mosaic it’s easy to pick out vestiges of trenches. Walking on, eventually the path curves round the flank of the mountainside and unexpectedly you come to a small grotto which contains a monument inscribed to 2. Landsturm Infanterie Batallion 2 “Bonn” part of Landsturm VIII. Armee-Korps / Coblenz. In 1918 it became 2nd Btl, of Landsturm Infanterie Regiment 48. (Thank you to Rob Schaefer @GERArmyResearch for the assistance in deciphering this and for the information about Btl Friedberg.)
I photographed the monument in 2013 :
The 1920s postcard below shows the grotto; and adjacent to it is a projecting structure which I believe to be part of the German position at Haicot (alternatively spelt Haycot).
This (below) is the monument in 2013…
… and this (below) is a postcard photograph of it taken after the Second World War. The monument has been adapted to memorialise members of les Amis de la Nature who died in 1944. A close comparison of the ‘now’ photograph shows the holes where the Second World War memorial plaque was screwed in over the top of the original.
I have read elsewhere that l’Auberge du Haycot has been built on a German structure. While I do not know whether this is true or not, I believe that the author is mistaken. Close to the Bonn monument is the Refuge de les Amis de la Nature Haycot, one of several refuges for walkers in the Vosges. (My photo, below, 2013) The owner of l’Auberge du Haycot told me that the refuge, not the Auberge, is the historic building.
There was undoubtedly a German position at Haicot, shown in these two postcards from immediately after the First World War.
(Above. The structure projecting over the slope ties in with that just visible in the early postcard showing the grotto: 331 Le Front des Vosges. 3rd picture from top, above.)
I am convinced that the ground floor of the current refuge is the same building as the ground floor of the premises shown in the postcards. The windows and doors match and there is early corrugated iron embedded into the wall. The landscape falls in the same way, steeply down the mountainside.
Provided that one isn’t attempting to walk to here from the Col de Bagenelles (a steep walk) and instead drives up and parks near l’Auberge du Haycot, this is an easy and rewarding walk in an important but less visited area of the early Front.
(My photographs and my postcards. Please don’t borrow them without asking.)
Rob Schaefer’s blog is http://gottmituns.net/ – very much worth visiting.