On the Brest peninsula, close to the port of St Nazaire, has recently been discovered a Great War military hospital used by the American Expeditionary Force. 

The ports of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire saw the arrival of the first "Sammies" (as 'Doughboys' were also known - named after 'Uncle Sam') in June 1917. 

Although the AEF initially relied on existing French hospitals, over time infrastructure was developed that enabled wounded soldiers to be cared for through the evacuation chain back to the coast. Connected by ambulances and medical trains, several hundred hospital structures were built across the France, ranging from simple field hospitals to vast centres capable of accommodating up to 25,000 wounded and sick people. These base hospitals, became 'cities' with their own road networks plus water and electricity provision and sanitation networks, and even, for some, their own rail services.

The remains of the American camp of Gagnerie du Tertre, which extended over more than 3 hectares, is currently being investigated by INRAP (Institut National de Recherches Archeologiques Preventives). 

Above: Archaeologists at work during the Savenay excavation. © Antoine Le Boulaire, Inrap

Above: The site, on the Brest peninsula.

There has been located some twenty barrack blocks (for housing, hangars, refectory, technical rooms, etc.) built on clinker bases of 100 to 200 m² and supplied by a network of pipes supplying drinkable water.

The excavation pits located outside the camp yielded the majority of archaeological finds. There are objects linked to construction of the hospital and relating to daily life. There has also been found numerous objects testifying to the presence of German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war.