The “Sacred Way”

While one of the most horrendous battles of the First World War was raging in Verdun, the first large-scale mechanised logistics operation was being developed to supply the front-line troops: the Sacred Way.


For the ten months that the battle lasted, the route between Bar-le Duc and Verdun (75 k) was the scene of an uninterrupted stream of vehicles.

voie sacrée camion berliet

Camions Berliet de la 10 e Section de munitions d’artillerie du 115e RAL dans la Marne - © Gustave ALAUX / ECPAD / Défense


Captain Doumenc, adjutant to the director of the French Army’s recently created automobile section, organised road transport to send supplies to the front line: 8,000 vehicles, including 6,000 trucks, continuously plied the route. During the height of the battle, the frequency of traffic on the Sacred Way was one vehicle every fourteen seconds, with 500,000 tonnes of equipment and 400,00 men per month. Due to their endurance, adaptability and easy maintenance, Renault, Berliet and Latil trucks were chosen for the operation. Production increased accordingly, and 40 vehicles a day were being produced in Berliet’s plants in 1916.

For further information...

Video : Armée de terre, Centenaire de la Bataille de Verdun, épisode 4 : La Voie Sacrée [on-line], available on

Book : Jean-Luc Kaluzko, Franck Meyer, La voie sacrée, Ysec, 2017