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Encyclopedia > Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun
Part of the Western Front of World War I
Battle of Verdun
Date 21 February18 December 1916
Location Verdun-sur-Meuse, France
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France France Flag of German Empire German Empire
Commanders
Philippe Pétain
Robert Nivelle
Erich von Falkenhayn
Crown Prince Wilhelm
Strength
About 30,000 on 21 February 1916 About 150,000 on 21 February 1916
Casualties and losses
378,000; of whom 163,000 died 330,000; of whom 143,000 died

The Battle of Verdun was one of the most critical battles in World War I on the Western Front, fought between the German and French armies from 21 February to 18 December 1916 around the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in northeast France.[1] Combatants Belgium British Empire Australia[1] Canada[2] India[3] Newfoundland[4] New Zealand[5] South Africa[6] United Kingdom France and French Overseas Empire Portugal[7] United States Germany Commanders No unified command until 1918, then Ferdinand Foch Moltke → Falkenhayn → Hindenburg and Ludendorff → Hindenburg and Groener Casualties ~4,800... “The Great War ” redirects here. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1242x961, 197 KB) Description: Verdun and Vicinity - 21 February - 20 December 1916 Source: www. ... is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 352nd day of the year (353rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Capital Verdun Government Republic Historical era Middle Ages  - Established Uncertain  - Three Bishoprics     annexed by France   1552  - Treaty of Westphalia     recognises annexation   1648 For other uses see Verdun (disambiguation) Verdun (medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city and commune in the Lorraine région, northeast... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_German_Empire. ... For German colonial territories, see German Colonial Empire. ... Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain, was a French general, later Chief of State of Vichy France (Chef de lÉtat Français), from 1940 to 1944. ... Robert Georges Nivelle (October 15, 1857 - March 22, 1924) was a French military commander during World War I. Born in Tulle, France, to a French father and English mother, Nivelle graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1878 and served in Indochina, Algeria, and China as an artillery officer. ... Erich von Falkenhayn Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn (11 November 1861 - 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. Falkenhayn was a career soldier. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Victor August Ernst (6 May 1882 – 20 July 1951) of the House of Hohenzollern was the last Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire. ... Combatants Belgium British Empire Australia[1] Canada[2] India[3] Newfoundland[4] New Zealand[5] South Africa[6] United Kingdom France and French Overseas Empire Portugal[7] United States Germany Commanders No unified command until 1918, then Ferdinand Foch Moltke → Falkenhayn → Hindenburg and Ludendorff → Hindenburg and Groener Casualties ~4,800... Belligerents France United Kingdom German Empire Commanders Joseph Joffre, Sir John French Helmuth von Moltke Strength France: 1,200,000 Britain: 70,000 1,300,000 The Battle of the Frontiers was a series of battles fought along the eastern frontier of France and in southern Belgium shortly after the... The Battle of Liège was the opening battle of the German invasion into Belgium, and the first battle of World War I. The siege of the city lasted from August 5 until the 16th when the final fort surrendered. ... This article or section is incomplete and may require expansion and/or cleanup. ... The Great Retreat covers the slow retreat by the Allies to the River Marne after their defeat by the Germans at Battle of Mons on 23 August. ... Course of the Race to the Sea showing dates of encounters and highlighting the significant battles. ... The Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Artois was a battle in the First World War. ... Combatants Belgium  Canada France Colonial forces United Kingdom British India  German Empire Commanders Horace Smith-Dorrien[1] Henri Gabriel Putz[2] A.-L.-T. de Ceuninck[3] Albrecht of Württemberg[4] Strength 8 infantry divisions[5] 7 infantry divisions Casualties 70,000 dead, wounded, or missing 35,000 dead... Combatants France United Kingdom German Empire Commanders Joseph Joffre Unknown Strength 9 French & British divisions (initial) Unknown Casualties 100,000 French 11,000 British 75,000 A battle on the Western Front of World War I, the First Battle of Artois was fought at the same time as the Second... The Battle of Hill 70 took place took place near the French city of Lens on 15 August and 16 August 1917 and was fought between the Canadian Corps under the command of Gen. ... Combatants France United Kingdom German Empire Commanders Auguste Dubail John French Crown Prince Rupprecht Strength French Tenth Army 6 British Divisions German Sixth Army Casualties 48,000 French 50,000 British 20,000 German A battle on the Western Front of World War I, the Second Battle of Artois is... The Battle of Loos was one of the major British offensives mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I. The battle was the British component of the combined Anglo-French offensive known as the Second Battle of Artois. ... The Battle of Hulluch was a conflict in World War One, April 27-29, 1916, involving the 16th Division of the British Armys 19th Corps. ... Combatants British Empire Australia Canada New Zealand Newfoundland South Africa United Kingdom France German Empire Commanders Douglas Haig Joseph Joffre Max von Gallwitz Fritz von Below Strength 13 British & 11 French divisions (initial) 51 British and 48 French divisions (final) 10. ... The Battle of Arras took place from 9 April to 16 May 1917. ... Belligerents Canada United Kingdom German Empire Commanders Julian Byng Ludwig von Falkenhausen Strength 5 Divisions 3 Divisions Casualties and losses 3,598 dead, 7,004 wounded[1] 20,000 dead or wounded, 4,000 captured The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military offensive of World War I by the... Combatants France German Empire Commanders Robert Nivelle Charles Mangin François Anthoine Mazel von Boehm Fritz von Below Strength 1. ... The Battle of Messines was launched on June 7, 1917 by British General Herbert Plumers second army, which included the 16th (Irish) Division and the 36th (Ulster) Division, near the villages of Mesen (in French Messines, as it was on most maps at that time) and Wytschaete. ... Passchendaele village, before and after the Battle of Passchendaele The Battle of Passchendaele, otherwise known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was one of the major battles of World War I, fought by British, ANZAC, and Canadian soldiers against the German army near Ypres ( Ieper in Flemish) in West Flanders... -1... This article is about the First World War. ... British and Portuguese captured by German forces in the Flanders region (1918) British 55th (West Lancashire) Division troops blinded by tear gas during the battle, 10 April 1918. ... The Third Battle of the Aisne was a German offensive during World War I that focused on capturing the Chemin des Dames Ridge before the American Expeditionary Force could arrive in France. ... Combatants United States France British Empire German Empire Commanders John J. Pershing James Harbord Crown Prince Wilhelm Strength 2 U.S. divisions French 6th Army (elements) British IX Corps (elements) 5 German divisions (elements) Casualties 9,777 unknown The Battle of Belleau Wood was a battle of the first World... Combatants  France  United Kingdom  United States  German Empire Casualties 168,000 The Second Battle of the Marne, or Battle of Reims, was a major World War I battle fought from July 15 to August 5, 1918, near the Marne River. ... The Battle of Chateau Thierry was fought on July 18, 1918. ... Combatants Australia  United States German Empire Commanders John Monash Casualties 976 KIA, 338 WIA 2000 KIA, 1600 POW The Battle of Hamel (4 July 1918) was a planned attack launched by the Australian Corps of the Australian Imperial Force against German positions in the town of Hamel in northern France... Combatants Belgium British Empire France United States of America German Empire Commanders King Albert I Ferdinand Foch Douglas Haig Philippe Petain John Pershing Erich Ludendorff Casualties 411,636 British 531,000 French 127,000+ American 785,733 The Hundred Days Offensive was the final offensive in World War I by... “The Great War ” redirects here. ... Combatants Belgium British Empire Australia[1] Canada[2] India[3] Newfoundland[4] New Zealand[5] South Africa[6] United Kingdom France and French Overseas Empire Portugal[7] United States Germany Commanders No unified command until 1918, then Ferdinand Foch Moltke → Falkenhayn → Hindenburg and Ludendorff → Hindenburg and Groener Casualties ~4,800... is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 352nd day of the year (353rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Capital Verdun Government Republic Historical era Middle Ages  - Established Uncertain  - Three Bishoprics     annexed by France   1552  - Treaty of Westphalia     recognises annexation   1648 For other uses see Verdun (disambiguation) Verdun (medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city and commune in the Lorraine région, northeast...


The Battle of Verdun resulted in more than a quarter of a million deaths and at least a million wounded. Verdun was the longest battle and one of the bloodiest in World War I and more generally in human history. In both France and Germany it has come to represent the horrors of war, similar to the significance of the Battle of the Somme in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth or the Battle of Gettysburg to the United States. The following is a list of the most lethal battles in world history. ... Combatants British Empire Australia Canada New Zealand Newfoundland South Africa United Kingdom France German Empire Commanders Douglas Haig Joseph Joffre Max von Gallwitz Fritz von Below Strength 13 British & 11 French divisions (initial) 51 British and 48 French divisions (final) 10. ... The Commonwealth of Nations as of 2008. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America Commanders George G. Meade Robert E. Lee Strength 93,921[1] 71,699[2] Casualties 23,055 (3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured/missing)[1] 23,231 (4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded, 5,830 captured/missing...


The Battle of Verdun popularised the phrase "Ils ne passeront pas" ("They shall not pass") in France, uttered by Robert Nivelle, but often incorrectly attributed to Philippe Pétain. They shall not pass (French: Ils ne passeront pas, Spanish: ¡No pasarán!) is a propaganda slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. ... Robert Georges Nivelle (October 15, 1857 - March 22, 1924) was a French military commander during World War I. Born in Tulle, France, to a French father and English mother, Nivelle graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1878 and served in Indochina, Algeria, and China as an artillery officer. ... Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain, was a French general, later Chief of State of Vichy France (Chef de lÉtat Français), from 1940 to 1944. ...

Contents

History

For centuries Verdun had played an important role in the defence of its hinterland, due to the city's strategic location on the Meuse River. Attila the Hun, for example, failed in his fifth-century attempt to seize the town. In the division of the empire of Charlemagne, the Treaty of Verdun of 843 made the town part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Peace of Munster in 1648 awarded Verdun to France. Verdun played a very important role in the defensive line that was built after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. As protection against German threats along the eastern border, a strong line of fortifications was constructed between Verdun and Toul and between Épinal and Belfort. Verdun guarded the northern entrance to the plains of Champagne and thus the approach to the French capital city of Paris. Meuse is a département in northeast France, named after the Meuse River. ... Attila redirects here. ... For other uses, see Charlemagne (disambiguation). ... Geopolitical divisions according to the Treaty of Verdun. ... This article is about the medieval empire. ... The Ratification of the Treaty of Münster by Gerard Terborch (1648) The Peace of Westphalia, also known as the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, is the series of treaties that ended the Thirty Years War and officially recognized the United Provinces and Swiss Confederation. ... Combatants Second French Empire North German Confederation allied with South German states (later German Empire) Commanders Napoleon III François Achille Bazaine Patrice de Mac-Mahon, duc de Magenta Otto von Bismarck Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Strength 400,000 at wars beginning 1,200,000 Casualties 150,000... Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toul Toul is a historic fortified town of France, a sous-préfecture of the Meurthe-et-Moselle département. ... Épinal is a commune of northeastern France, préfecture (capital) of the Vosges département. ... Belfort is a town and commune of northeastern France, préfecture (capital) of the Territoire de Belfort département in the Franche-Comté région. ... Location of the Champagne province in France Champagne is one of the most traditional provinces of France, a region of France that is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the regions name. ... This article is about the capital of France. ...


In the summer of 1914, during the German invasion of France and the First Battle of the Marne , Verdun held fast as a salient although some fortifications withstood Big Bertha's artillery bombardment. The French garrison within the city of Verdun itself was housed in the citadel built by Vauban in the 17th century. By the end of the 19th century, an underground complex had been built which served as a workshop,ammunitions storage, hospital, and quarters for the French troops. Furthermore the city of Verdun was at the hub of a 360 degrees outer ring of 19 large forts, not including smaller redoubts, all of them having been built during the 1880's (Le Halle,1998). In effect they made Verdun a self contained fortified region extending well beyond the city walls. The Verdun forts were of variable quality and size and thus provided unequal potential to resist large caliber artillery shelling. The forts situated to the north and east of Verdun( e.g. Douaumont, Vaux, Moulainville ) had been hardened during the early 1900's with very thick steel reinforced concrete tops . Those hardened forts had also been equiped with additional 75mm field guns installed in reinforced concrete "Casemates de Bourges" looking sideways, thus providing flanking fire across the intervals between the forts. However,some masonry forts built during the 1880's on the same defensive ring, but to the west and south of Verdun ( e.g. Landrecourt, Marre, Haudainville ), had been left virtually unimproved . The reason for this decision was that a possible German assault was most likely to come from the north and northeast, a speculation that later proved to be essentially correct. Combatants France United Kingdom German Empire Commanders Joseph Joffre John French Helmuth von Moltke Karl von Bülow Alexander von Kluck Strength 1,071,000 1,485,000 Casualties Approximately 263,000: 250,000 French casualties (80,000 dead) 13,000 British casualties (1,700 dead) Approximately 250,000 total... Big Bertha Big Bertha (German: Dicke Bertha; literal translation Fat Bertha) is the name of the L/14 model of heavy mortar-like howitzers built and used by Germany during World War I. The name Big Bertha is often mistakenly applied to the Langer Max and Paris Gun railway guns. ... Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban and later Marquis de Vauban (May 15, 1633 - March 30, 1707), commonly referred to as Vauban, was a Marshal of France and the foremost military engineer of his age, famed for his skill in both designing fortifications and in breaking through them. ... Douaumont is a village and a commune in the Meuse département in France, near Verdun. ... Vaux may refer to: // Calvert Vaux (1824–1895), British-born American architect and landscape designer Richard Vaux (1816-1895), an American politician, mayor of Philadelphia, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania Roberts Vaux, American abolitionist and philanthropist from Philadelphia Baron Vaux of Harrowden, an...


Lead up to the battle

After the Germans failed to achieve a quick victory in 1914, the war of movement soon bogged down into a stalemate on the Western Front. Trench warfare developed and neither side could achieve a successful breakthrough. {{subst:empty template|}} {{Copyviocore |url= |month = {{subst:CURRENTMONTHNAME}} |day = {{subst:CURRENTDAY}} |year = {{subst:CURRENTYEAR}} |time = {{subst:CURRENTTIME}} |timestamp = {{subst:CURRENTTIMESTAMP}}}} Trench warfare is a form of warfare where both combatants have fortified positions and fighting lines are static. ...


In 1915, all attempts to force a breakthrough—by the Germans at Ypres, by the British at Neuve Chapelle and by the French at Champagne—had failed, resulting only in terrible casualties. Combatants Belgium  Canada France Colonial forces United Kingdom British India  German Empire Commanders Horace Smith-Dorrien[1] Henri Gabriel Putz[2] A.-L.-T. de Ceuninck[3] Albrecht of Württemberg[4] Strength 8 infantry divisions[5] 7 infantry divisions Casualties 70,000 dead, wounded, or missing 35,000 dead... The Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Artois was a battle in the First World War. ... The Battle of Champagne is the name of three battles fought in the Champagne region of northern France during the First World War. ...


According to his post war memoirs, the German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, believed that although a breakthrough might no longer be possible, the French could still be defeated if they suffered a sufficient amount of casualties. He explained that his motivation for the battle was to attack a position from which the French could not retreat, both for strategic reasons and for reasons of national pride, so imposing a ruinous battle of attrition on the French armies. Falkenhayn stated that the town of Verdun-sur-Meuse was chosen to "bleed white" the French: the town, surrounded by a ring of forts, was an important stronghold that projected into the German lines and guarded the direct route to Paris. By early 1916, Verdun's much-vaunted impregnability had been seriously weakened. It had been "declassed" as a fortress the previous summer and all but a few of its guns and garrison had been removed. This was primarily the work of General Joseph Joffre, C-in-C of the French Army, who, with others, had presumed from the relatively easy fall in 1914 of the Belgian fortresses at Liege and Namur that this form of defence was redundant so far as modern warfare was concerned. Between August and October 1915, Verdun was denuded of over 50 complete batteries of guns and 128.000 rounds of ammunition. These were parcelled out to other Allied sectors where artillery was short. The stripping process was still going on at the end of January 1916, by which time the 60-odd Verdun forts possessed fewer than 300 guns with insufficient ammunition. Erich von Falkenhayn Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn (11 November 1861 - 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. Falkenhayn was a career soldier. ... A battle of attrition is a military engagement in which neither side has any tactical advantage, so that the only result of the fighting is the loss of men and materiel on both sides. ... This article is about the capital of France. ... Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre (12 January 1852 - 3 January 1931) was a Catalan French general who was Commander-in-Chief of the French Army between 1914 and 1916 during the First World War. ... The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre (Army of the land), is the land-based component of the French Armed Forces and the largest. ... Liege or Liège has several meanings: A Liège is a classic sporting car, designed for personal assembly, by Peter Davis in Evesham, UK, and often used in Classic Trials and other long distance motoring events A liege is the person or entity to which one has pledged allegiance. ... Namur is the name of a city in Belgium, capital of Wallonia, as well as a province and a diocese named after it. ... Capital Verdun Government Republic Historical era Middle Ages  - Established Uncertain  - Three Bishoprics     annexed by France   1552  - Treaty of Westphalia     recognises annexation   1648 For other uses see Verdun (disambiguation) Verdun (medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city and commune in the Lorraine région, northeast...


In choosing the battlefield, Falkenhayn looked for a location where the material circumstances favoured the Germans: Verdun was isolated on three sides; communications to the French rear were poor; finally, a German railhead lay only twelve miles away, while French troops could only resupply by a single road, the Voie Sacrée. In a war where materiel trumped élan, Falkenhayn expected a favourable loss exchange ratio as the French would cling fanatically to a death trap. Milestone along the Voie Sacrée Voie Sacrée (Sacred Way) is the name given to the road between Bar-le-Duc and Verdun, because of the vital role that it played in the battle. ... Material (from the French matérial for equipment or hardware, related to the word material) is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management. ... Loss-Exchange Ratio (LER) is a military term that calculates the comparative casualties suffered by each combatant from a battle, engagement or extended confligt. ...


Falkenhayn stated in his memoirs that rather than a traditional military victory, Verdun was planned as a vehicle for destroying the French Army. He quotes from a memo he says he wrote to the Kaiser: German Emperor Wilhelm (born Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht, Prince of Prussia 27 January 1859–4 June 1941), was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia (de: Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen), ruling from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. ...

"The string in France has reached breaking point. A mass breakthrough—which in any case is beyond our means—is unnecessary. Within our reach there are objectives for the retention of which the French General Staff would be compelled to throw in every man they have. If they do so the forces of France will bleed to death."

However, recent scholarship by Holger Afflerbach and others has questioned the veracity of this so-called "Christmas memo".[2] No copy has ever surfaced and the only account of it appeared in Falkenhayn's post-war memoir. His army commanders at Verdun, including the German Crown Prince, denied any knowledge of a plan based on attrition. Afflerbach argues that it seems likely that Falkenhayn did not specifically design the battle to bleed the French Army, but justified ex-post-facto the motive of the Verdun offensive, despite its failure.


Current analyses follow the same trend and exclude the traditional explanation. The offensive was probably planned to crush Verdun's weakened defence and then take it, opening the whole front. Verdun, as the core of an extensive rail system, would have immensely helped the Germans.


Battle

Map of the battle
Map of the battle


Verdun was poorly defended because most of the artillery had been removed from the local fortifications, but good intelligence and a delay in the German attack due to bad weather gave the French time to rush two divisions of 30th Corps—the 72nd and 51st—to the area's defence. The French strength was now 34 battalions against 72 German. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (971x628, 146 KB)Map of the Battle of Verdun, 1916. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (971x628, 146 KB)Map of the Battle of Verdun, 1916. ...


The German High Command aimed to launch the offensive on the 12 February; however, fog, heavy rain and high winds delayed the offensive for a week. The battle began on 21 February 1916 with a nine-hour artillery bombardment firing over 1,000,000 shells (including poison gas) by 1,200 guns on a front of 40 kilometres (25 m), followed by an attack by three army corps (the 3rd, 7th, and 18th). The Germans used flamethrowers for the first time to clear the French trenches. Newly introduced Storm Troops led the attack with rifles slung, the first time in the war, and went into battle with grenades in hand. These shock tactics were new to the French, the main reason they lost so much ground to the Germans on the first day. By 22 February the Germans had advanced three miles (5 km) capturing the Bois des Caures after two French battalions led by Colonel Émile Driant had held them up for two days, and pushed the French defenders back to Samogneux, Beaumont, and Ornes. Later that day, on the 22nd February, Colonel Émile Driant was killed, rifle in hand, fighting alongside the 56th and 59th Battalion de Chasseurs a pied. Only 118 Chasseurs managed to escape. Poor communications meant that only then did the French command realize the seriousness of the attack. is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... “Miles” redirects here. ... Riverboat of the U.S. Brownwater Navy shooting ignited napalm from its mounted flamethrower during the Vietnam war. ... is the 53rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Émile Augustin Cyprien Driant (September 11, 1855 - February 22, 1916) was a French Army Officer and first high ranking casualty of the Battle of Verdun during the First World War. ... Beaumont en Auge is a commune of the Calvados département, in the Basse-Normandie France. ... Émile Augustin Cyprien Driant (September 11, 1855 - February 22, 1916) was a French Army Officer and first high ranking casualty of the Battle of Verdun during the First World War. ... A Chasseur (a French term for hunter) is a soldier, especially one of certain French light infantry or cavalry troops, trained for rapid action. ...


On 24 February the French defenders of XXX Corps fell back again from their second line of defence, but were saved from disaster by the appearance of the XX Corps under General Balfourier. Intended as relief, the new arrivals were thrown into combat immediately. That evening French Army chief of staff, General de Castelnau, advised his commander-in-chief, Joseph Joffre, that the French Second Army, under General Philippe Petain, ought to be sent to man the Verdun sector. The Germans were now in possession of Beaumont, the Bois des Fosses, the Bois des Caurieres and part of the way along La Vauche ravine which led to Douaumont. On 25 February a 10-man patrol of the German 24th (Brandenburg) Infantry Regiment of 3 Corps captured a centrepiece of the French fortifications, Fort Douaumont and took possession of its three guns while the French garrison of 56 artillerymen slept. Oberleutnant von Brandis CO of 8th Kompagnie won for this action the Pour le Mérite. is the 55th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Noël Marie Joseph Édouard, vicomte de Curières de Castelnau (1851–1944) was a French general in World War I, one of the leading proponents of the philosophy of attaque à outrance that dominated French military thinking in the early part of the war. ... Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre (12 January 1852 - 3 January 1931) was a Catalan French general who was Commander-in-Chief of the French Army between 1914 and 1916 during the First World War. ... The Second Army (French: ) was a Field army of the French Army during World War I and World War II. The Army became famous for fighting the Battle of Verdun in 1916 under Petain. ... World War II and Vichy France After the fall of France during World War II, in the spring of 1940, the Chamber of Deputies appointed Pétain as Prime Minister of France and granted him extraordinary powers. ... Douaumont is a village and a commune in the Meuse département in France, near Verdun. ... is the 56th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the similarly spelled Brandenberg, see Brandenberg (Austria) or Brandenburg (disambiguation) Location Coordinates , , Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2) Administration Country NUTS Region DE4 Capital Potsdam Minister-President Matthias Platzeck (SPD) Governing parties SPD / CDU Votes in Bundesrat 4 (of 69) Basic statistics Area  29,479 km² (11,382... The Order Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max), was Prussias highest military order until the end of World War I. The award was a blue-enameled Maltese Cross with eagles between the arms, the Prussian royal cypher, and the French legend Pour...


Castelnau appointed General Philippe Pétain commander of the Verdun area and ordered the French Second Army to the battle sector. Petain decided that the Verdun forts should be strongly re-garrisoned to form the principal bulwarks of a new defense. He mapped out new lines of resistance on both banks of the Meuse and gave orders for a barrage position to be established through Avoncourt, Fort de Marre, Verdun's NE outskirts and Fort du Rozellier. The line Bras-Douaumont was divided into four sectors, each sector was entrusted to fresh French troops of the 20th "Iron" Corps. Their main job was to delay the German advance with counter-attacks. On 29 February, the German attack was slowed down at the village of Douaumont by heavy snowfall and by the tenacious defense of the French 33rd Infantry Regiment, which had been commanded by Pétain himself in the years prior to the war. Captain Charles de Gaulle, the future Free French leader and French President, was a company commander in this regiment, and was taken prisoner during the battle. The slow down gave the French time to bring up 90,000 men and 23,000 tons of ammunition from the railhead at Bar-le-Duc to Verdun. This was largely accomplished by uninterrupted, night-and-day trucking along a narrow departmental road: the so-called "Voie Sacrée" . The standard gauge railway line going through Verdun in peacetime had been cut off since 1915. February 29 is a day added into a leap year of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the person. ... The Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres in French) were French fighters who decided to go on fighting against Germany after the Fall of France and German occupation and to fight against Vichy France in World War II. General Charles de Gaulle was a member of the French Cabinet in... The President of France, known officially as the President of the Republic (Président de la République in French), is Frances elected Head of State. ... Bar-le-Duc is a town in northeastern France, in the Meuse département, of which it is the préfecture (capital). ...


As in so many other offensives on the Western Front, by advancing, the German troops had lost effective artillery cover. With the battlefield turned into a sea of mud through continual shelling it was very hard to move guns forward. The advance also brought the Germans into range of French artillery on the west bank of the Meuse. Each new advance thus became costlier than the previous one as the attacking German Fifth Army units, often attacking in massed crowds southward down the east bank, were cut down ruthlessly from their flank by Pétain's guns on the opposite, or west, side of the Meuse valley. When the village of Douaumont was finally captured on 2 March 1916, four German regiments had been virtually destroyed. For other uses, see Artillery (disambiguation). ... The German Fifth Army (German: ) was a World War II field army. ... -1... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ...

Le Mort Homme and Hill 287, May 1916
Le Mort Homme and Hill 287, May 1916

Unable to make any further progress against Verdun frontally, the Germans turned to the flanks, attacking the hill of Le Mort Homme on 6 March and Fort Vaux on 8 March. Mort Homme possessed double peaks and offered two advantages. First it sheltered a particularly active battery of French field guns, and secondly, from its heights there stretched a magnificent all-round view of the surrounding countryside. After storming the Bois des Corbeaux and losing it to a determined French counter-attack, the Germans prepared another attempt on Mort Homme on 9 March and this time from the direction of Béthincourt in the NW. They seized the Bois des Corbeaux a second time, but at such a crippling cost that they could not continue. Results were depressingly similar on the right bank of the Meuse, where the German effort faded out beneath the walls of Fort Vaux. In three months of savage fighting the Germans captured the villages of Cumières and Chattancourt to the west of Verdun, and Fort Vaux to the east finally surrendered on 7 June. The losses were terrible on both sides. Pétain attempted to spare his troops by remaining on the defensive, but he was removed from command by being promoted to Army Group Centre 1 May, being replaced with the more attack-minded General Robert Nivelle. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (868x365, 47 KB)Battle of Verdun: Mort-Homme and Hill 287, May 1916 Downloaded from [1] File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (868x365, 47 KB)Battle of Verdun: Mort-Homme and Hill 287, May 1916 Downloaded from [1] File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... is the 65th day of the year (66th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Fort Vaux, located in Vaux-Devant-Damloup, Meuse, France, became the second Fort to fall in the Battle of Verdun. ... is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 68th day of the year (69th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 158th day of the year (159th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Robert Georges Nivelle (October 15, 1857 - March 22, 1924) was a French military commander during World War I. Born in Tulle, France, to a French father and English mother, Nivelle graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1878 and served in Indochina, Algeria, and China as an artillery officer. ...


The Germans' next objective was Fort Souville. On 22 June 1916, they shelled the French defences with the poison gas diphosgene (known to the Germans as "Green Cross Gas" because of the distinctive markings on the shells containing it), and attacked the next day with 30,000 men, taking the battery of Thiaumont and the village of Fleury. The Germans, however, proved unable to capture Souville, though the fighting continued until 3 September. is the 173rd day of the year (174th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... A poison gas attack in World War I. The use of poison gas was a major military innovation of the First World War. ... Diphosgene (ClCO2CCl3) Diphosgene (Trichloromethyl chloroformate, ClCO2CCl3) is a chemical originally developed for chemical warfare, a few months after the first use of phosgene. ... is the 246th day of the year (247th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


The opening of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, forced the Germans to withdraw some of their artillery from Verdun to counter the combined Anglo-French offensive to the north. The battle of the Somme was launched by the allies to try to take some of the pressure off of the French at Verdun. Combatants British Empire Australia Canada New Zealand Newfoundland South Africa United Kingdom France German Empire Commanders Douglas Haig Joseph Joffre Max von Gallwitz Fritz von Below Strength 13 British & 11 French divisions (initial) 51 British and 48 French divisions (final) 10. ... is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ...


By the autumn, the German troops were exhausted and Falkenhayn had been replaced as Chief of the General Staff by Paul von Hindenburg. Hindenburg's deputy, Chief Quartermaster-General Erich Ludendorff, soon acquired almost dictatorial power in Germany. Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German field marshal and statesman. ... Ludendorff in 1918 Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes given incorrectly as von Ludendorff) (April 9, 1865–December 20, 1937, Tutzing, Bavaria, Germany) was a German Army officer, Generalquartiermeister during World War I, victor of Liege, and, with Paul von Hindenburg, one of the victors of the battle of Tannenberg. ...


The French launched a counter-offensive on 21 October 1916. Its architect was General Nivelle. It combined heavy bombardment with swift infantry assaults. The French inflicted crushing blows on Fort Douaumont with two new 400 mm ( 16 inch ) railway guns (brought up by rail and directed by spotter planes), and re-captured it on 24 October. On 2 November the Germans lost Fort Vaux and retreated. A final French offensive beginning on 11 December drove the Germans back almost to their starting positions. is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... French 320 mm railway gun Krupp K5 railway gun A railway gun, also called railroad gun or railgun is a large artillery piece, designed to be placed on rail tracks. ... is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 306th day of the year (307th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 345th day of the year (346th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


A further minor French offensive took place at Verdun in August 1917, recapturing the Mort-Homme and Hill 304 ridges on the left bank of the Meuse river.


Casualties

It was crucial that the less populous Central Powers inflicted many more casualties on their adversaries than they themselves suffered. At Verdun, Germany did inflict more casualties on the French than they incurred—but not in the 2:1 ratio that they had hoped for, despite the fact that the German Army grossly outnumbered the French. The German Army (German: [1], [IPA: heɐ]  ) is the land component of the Bundeswehr (Federal Defence Forces) of the Federal Republic of Germany. ...


France's losses were appalling, nonetheless. It was the perceived humanity of General (later Marshal) Philippe Pétain who insisted that troops be regularly rotated in the face of such horror that helped seal his reputation. The rotation of forces meant that 70% of France's Army went through "the wringer of Verdun", as opposed to the 25% of the German forces who saw action there. Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain, was a French general, later Chief of State of Vichy France (Chef de lÉtat Français), from 1940 to 1944. ...


At any one time, there were 24 French divisions fighting at Verdun. French losses are estimated at 161,000 dead, 101,000 missing and 216,000 men wounded. German losses are estimated 142,000 killed and 187,000 wounded. The statistics on record bear out that most of the casualties on both sides were the result of artillery fire. The consumption of artillery shells by the French during the first 5 months of the batlle is documented to have exceedd 15 million rounds. Most of them from field artillery, particularly from the French 75 batteries which at any given time lined up over 1000 guns on the edge of the battlefield. Old photographs and current visits on the battlefield document that shell craters are so numerous that they overlap each other over several hundred square miles.


Perhaps even more than the Battle of Somme, Verdun symbolizes the sheer waste of World War I. ...


Significance

The Battle of Verdun—also known as the 'Mincing Machine of Verdun' or 'Meuse Mill'—became a symbol of French determination, inspired by the sacrifice of the defenders.


The perceived success of the fixed fortification system led to the adoption of the Maginot Line as the preferred method of defense along the Franco-German border during the inter-war years. In reality, French field atillery emplaced in the open on the Verdun battlefield was outnumbering turreted artillery in the forts by a factor of ten to one and did, as a matter of fact, inflict most of the German casualties. The Maginot Line (IPA: [maʒinoː], named after French minister of defense André Maginot) was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defenses, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in the light of experience from World War I...


See also

Verdun Memorial
Verdun Memorial

Verdun memorial; originally uploaded to German wikipedia by user Stefan Kühn, his own photo File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Verdun memorial; originally uploaded to German wikipedia by user Stefan Kühn, his own photo File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Émile Augustin Cyprien Driant (September 11, 1855 - February 22, 1916) was a French Army Officer and first high ranking casualty of the Battle of Verdun during the First World War. ... Sign indicating the site of the destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont Landscape around Cumières-le-Mort-Homme during the Battle of Verdun During the First World War, specifically at the time of the Battle of Verdun in 1916, nine villages in the French département of Meuse were... Ossuary with Cemetery // History During the 300 days lasting fight for Verdun (21 February 1916 - 19 December 1916) approximately 300. ... Verdun Memorial The Verdun Memorial is a war memorial situated close to the destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont in the département of Meuse in north-eastern France. ... Milestone along the Voie Sacrée Voie Sacrée (Sacred Way) is the name given to the road between Bar-le-Duc and Verdun, because of the vital role that it played in the battle. ... Rue Verdun is an upscale commercial and residential street in Beirut, Lebanon. ... This article is about the Lebanese city. ...

Further reading

  • Brown, Malcolm Verdun 1916 Tempus Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0-7524-1774-6
  • Clayton, Anthony. Paths of Glory - The French Army 1914-18., ISBN 0-304-36652-8
  • Foley, Robert. German Strategy and the Path to Verdun., ISBN 0-521-84193-3
  • Horne, Alistair. The Price of Glory., ISBN 0-14-017041-3
  • Keegan, John. The First World War., ISBN 0-375-70045-5
  • Martin, William. Verdun 1916. London: Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-85532-993-X
  • Mosier, John. The Myth of the Great War., ISBN 0-06-008433-2
  • Ousby, Ian. The Road to Verdun. ISBN 0-385-50393-8
  • Le Halle,Guy,1998,Verdun.Les Forts de la Victoire,CITEDIS,Paris. ISBN 2-911920-10-4

References

  1. ^ Alistair Horne The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 (Viking-Penguin, 1991) p.1
  2. ^ Holger Afflerbach: Falkenhayn. Politisches Denken und Handeln im Kaiserreich (München: Oldenbourg, 1994); "Planning Total War? Falkenhayn and the Battle of Verdun, 1916," in Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918, Roger Chickering and Stig Foerster, eds. (New York: Cambridge, 2000)

External links

World War I Portal
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Category:Battle of Verdun


  Results from FactBites:
 
First World War.com - Battles - The Battle of Verdun, 1916 (2238 words)
The German siege of Verdun and its ring of forts, which comprised the longest battle of the First World War, has its roots in a letter sent by the German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, to the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, on Christmas Day 1915.
Originally scheduled for 1 August, the Battle of the Somme was brought forward to 1 July upon the insistence of the French.
By this stage the German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, was scathing in his condemnation of Falkenhayn’s lack of success in Verdun, which was proving as costly in terms of manpower to Germany as it was to France.
Verdun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (815 words)
Verdun became part of the middle kingdom Lotharingia, and later of the Holy Roman Empire, in which it was an Imperial Free City.
Verdun was a Gallic fortress before Roman times and later a key asset in wars against Prussia, and Falkenhayn knew that the French would throw as many men as necessary into its defence.
Consequently, Verdun was utterly unprepared for the initial bombardment on the morning of 21 February 1916.
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