In 2013, preventive archaeological investigations conducted at Bétheny (Marne) by a team from INRAP unearthed a series of small pits, arranged in two rows stretching over a distance of almost 60 metres. These graves contained several bodies of German soldiers killed in the early days of the war, probably on 17th or 18th September 1914. Initially a series of individual holes were dug, later joined together to form small trenches a few metres in length and around 70cm deep and 50cm wide. Two shell impacts destroyed these trenches, exploding and scattering the remains of at least seven soldiers and damaging seven more, whose bodies would be found intact nearby. The impact of the explosions is clearly visible in the twisted, unnatural positions of these bodies.
Close examination of the objects found in the vicinity reveal that this combat unit, in action at Bétheny, belonged to Füsilier-Regiment 73 (F.R. 73) and comprised a number of soldiers who had been in action since the very beginning of hostilities, along with recent reinforcements assigned to this unit and provided with less modern equipment. The results of this dig provide an extraordinary snapshot of the final days of open, moving combat, before the front line was definitively established near Reims and the era of trench warfare began.