Spring's first breath came to France last week. Horse racing resumed at Auteuil. British Tommies whipped the French Poilus 36-to-3 at rugby. At the stalemated fighting front, bright skies encouraged reconnaissance flights by both sides, to see what new dispositions the enemy had made during weeks of freeze and fog. For the troops in outpost zones ahead of the Maginot Line and Westwall, patrol duty became more frequent and arduous, first stations busier.

"Les Sacrifiés"—those who die first—is the French name for such troops, who must watch for and delay an enemy...

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