The Trench of the Bayonets is a World War I memorial situated north of the Douaumont Ossuary. It pays homage to the Bayonet Trench soldiers who are thought to have been buried alive during an enemy bombardment on June 12th, 1916. According to the myth, in 1919, Colonel Collet, Commander of the 137 I.R., returned to the location where his unit had fought in 1916 only to find a dozen rifles still sticking out of the ground, some with their bayonets still intact, with a dead French soldier under each rifle. He built a small memorial on the site to honor the memory of his colleagues. The press picked up the story, which immediately captured the public’s imagination. The story, however moving, is believed to not be entirely historically accurate. Experts believe that survivors who wanted to memorialize the place where the attack occurred probably installed the bayonets and the rifles themselves after the bombardment.
A bigger memorial was unveiled on December 8th 1920 by Alexandre Millerand, the President of the French Republic, designed by French war veteran and architect André Ventre and financed by American George Rand. Today, visitors can visit the memorial, which includes a large concrete monument leading to the trench, as well as historical plaques.