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Governors Island Fun Fact: What’s a “Soissons”?


Pictured: Secretary of War George Dern arrives at Soissons Dock, Governors Island in 1934. Photo via the 16th Infantry Association

Governors Island fans know Soissons Landing as the place where the Coursen and Waterways Ferries drop off their visitors every weekend. And while Island history aficionados may know of its original use as a military base for over two centuries, very few know the story behind the name “Soissons”. So who, what, or where, is a Soissons?

As it turns out, Soissons is a city in Northern France that was the site of a WWI battle where a combination of French, British and American forces opposed German troops. Soissons held strategic importance due to its close proximity to Paris, which made it a last line of defense before reaching the capital. Over the five day period in 1918, Allied forces lost 125,000 soldiers, compared to 168,000 German casualties. The Allied troops were also able to regain much of the ground lost during the German Spring offensive, which reversed the deepest advance of the War into Allied territory.

Just after the war, the 16th Regiment was posted to Governors Island, and the ferry landing was named in commemoration of that unit’s role in a victory at Soissons.