Verdun 1916

The Deadliest Battle of the First World War

Verdun 1916

A gripping narrative of the most infamous Western Front battle of the war. The British remember the Somme, Russia the Brusilov Offensive, and France and Germany remember Verdun

Verdun 1916

The Renaissance of the Fortress

Verdun 1916

Wrapped in myth and distortion, the Battle of Verdun is one of the most enigmatic battles of the Great War, and the controversy continues a century later. Before the battle the Germans believed they had selected one of the strongest points in the French defences in the hope that, if they smashed through it, the French would collapse. But Verdun was actually a hollow shell since its forts were largely disarmed and the trench lines were incomplete. So why did the Germans fail to take Verdun? As well as seeking to answer this fundamental question, the authors of this perceptive new study reconsider other key aspects of the battle – the German deployment of stormtroopers, the use of artillery and aircraft, how the French developed the idea of methodical battle which came to dominate their military thought after the war. They look too at how Verdun brought about a renaissance of fortress engineering that resulted in the creation of the Maginot Line and the other fortifications constructed in Europe before the Second World War.

Verdun 1916

Verdun 1916

1916 was a year of killing. The British remember the Somme, but earlier in the year the heart of the French army was ripped out by the Germans at Verdun. The garrison city in north-eastern France was the focus of a massive German attack; the French fought back ferociously, leading to a battle that would claim hundreds of thousands of lives and permanently scar the French psyche. To this day one can visit the site of ghost villages uninhabited since, but still cherished like shrines. Memories of Verdun would greatly influence military and political thinking for decades to come as both sides came away with memories of bravery, futility and horror. Malcolm Brown has produced a vivid new history of this epic clash; drawing on original illustrations and eye-witness accounts he has captured the spirit of a battle that defines the hell of warfare on the Western Front.

Battle Story: Verdun 1916

Battle Story: Verdun 1916

The Battle of Verdun was one of the bloodiest engagements of the First World War, resulting in 698,000 deaths, 70,000 for each of the 10 months of battle. The French Army in the area were decimated and it is often most tragically remembered as the battle in which the French were ‘bled white’. A potent symbol of French resistance, the fortress town of Verdun was one that the French Army was loath to relinquish easily. It was partly for this reason that the German commander chose to launch a major offensive here, where he could dent French national pride and military morale. His attack commenced on 21 February, using shock troops and flamethrowers to clear the French trenches. Starting with the capture of Fort Douamont, by June 1916 the Germans were pressing on the city itself, exhausting their reserves. The French continued to fight valiantly, despite heavy losses and eventually rolled back German forces from the city. In the end it was a battle that saw much loss of life for little gain on either side.

Verdun 1916

'they Shall Not Pass'

Verdun 1916

"On 21 February 1916, German General Erich von Falkenhayn unleashed his hammer-blow offensive against the French fortress city of Verdun. His aim was nothing short of the destruction of the French army. He was sure that the symbolic value of Verdun was such that the French would be 'compelled to throw in every man they have.' He was equally sure that 'if they do so the forces of France will bleed to death.' The massed batteries of German guns would smash the French troops in their trenches and bunkers. However, the French hung on with immense courage and determination and the battle became a bloody battle of attrition"--Page 4 of cover.

Walking In the Footsteps of the Fallen

Verdun 1916

Walking In the Footsteps of the Fallen

A visit to the battlefield of Verdun is usually dominated by the forts of Douamont and Vaux, the museum at Fleury and the striking, huge Ossuary. Although this gives a flavor of the horrific fighting that took place in the area, particularly in 1916, the visitor will be hard pressed to get much more than an impression from such places. This book seeks to guide the battlefield pilgrim into parts of the battlefield that get rarely visited by means of a series of walks, a number of which include the major sites. The four tours have been carefully walked. All are practicable for a reasonably healthy adult; the tours vary in length, most taking a half day to complete and the longest (the last) a day. In a twist to the usual walks to be found in the Battleground series, Christina makes full use of the numerous field graves and isolated memorials that are to be found on the Verdun battlefield, a number of which will bring visitors to the most visited sites. In the course of these walks many physical remnants will be found, such as gun positions, bunkers and trench systems, the significance of which is fully explained. The walks have not been chosen at random; by following these the tourer will get a far greater understanding of why the fighting at Verdun developed as it did and why such places as Fort Vaux were so significant to both sides. The field graves and memorials to the combatants, very often of individuals, provide an opportunity to give their story and the unit action in which they were fighting when they were killed. Verdun is a battlefield where the story of units and individuals can easily become lost in the horror of the incessant fighting that raged over ten months; and over ground which is extremely difficult to read because of the post war forestation program. Profusely illustrated and with excellent mapping, a hallmark of Christina Holstein's books, a visitor who follows the walks in this book will be left with a far clearer idea of the men who fought and died here and of the features of the battlefield and their significance in this battle that so challenged the endurance of the armies of two nations.

French Soldier vs German Soldier

Verdun 1916

French Soldier vs German Soldier

On 21 February 1916, the German Army launched a major attack on the French fortress of Verdun. The Germans were confident that the ensuing battle would compel France to expend its strategic reserves in a savage attritional battle, thereby wearing down Allied fighting power on the Western Front. However, initial German success in capturing a key early objective, Fort Douaumont, was swiftly stemmed by the French defences, despite heavy French casualties. The Germans then switched objectives, but made slow progress towards their goals; by July, the battle had become a stalemate. During the protracted struggle for Verdun, the two sides' infantrymen faced appalling battlefield conditions; their training, equipment and doctrine would be tested to the limit and beyond. New technologies, including flamethrowers, hand grenades, trench mortars and more mobile machine guns, would play a key role in the hands of infantry specialists thrown into the developing battle, and innovations in combat communications were employed to overcome the confusion of the battlefield. This study outlines the two sides' wider approach to the evolving battle, before assessing the preparations and combat record of the French and German fighting men who fought one another during three pivotal moments of the 101⁄2-month struggle for Verdun.

The Price of Glory

Verdun 1916

The Price of Glory

The battle of Verdun lasted ten months. It was a battle in which at least 700,000 men fell, along a front of fifteen miles. Its aim was less to defeat the enemy than bleed him to death and a battleground whose once fertile terrain is even now a haunted wilderness. Alistair Horne's classic work, continuously in print for over fifty years, is a profoundly moving, sympathetic study of the battle and the men who fought there. It shows that Verdun is a key to understanding the First World War to the minds of those who waged it, the traditions that bound them and the world that gave them the opportunity.

The Somme & Verdun

1916 Remembered

The Somme & Verdun

Verdun and the Somme were two of the most cataclysmic battles of World War I on the Western Front. Many people think of the battle solely in terms of the first disastrous day, but in fact it lasted for four and a half months and would witness the arrival of the tank on the battlefield. Likewise Verdun lasted 10 months and the steadfastness of the French soldiers remains legendary to this day. Relive and appreciate this shocking period in history by examining rare items of memorabilia such as maps, diary extracts, letters, sketches, secret memos and reports which had been filed away in museums and other collections around the world. Julian Thompson explains the battle in and engaging and informative way, with over 200 photographs from the Imperial War Museum, French and German museums.

Verdun 1916

The Renaissance of the Fortress

Verdun 1916

Wrapped in myth and distortion, the Battle of Verdun is one of the most enigmatic battles of the Great War, and the controversy continues a century later. Before the battle the Germans believed they had selected one of the strongest points in the French defences in the hope that, if they smashed through it, the French would collapse. But Verdun was actually a hollow shell since its forts were largely disarmed and the trench lines were incomplete. So why did the Germans fail to take Verdun? As well as seeking to answer this fundamental question, the authors of this perceptive new study reconsider other key aspects of the battle – the German deployment of stormtroopers, the use of artillery and aircraft, how the French developed the idea of methodical battle which came to dominate their military thought after the war. They look too at how Verdun brought about a renaissance of fortress engineering that resulted in the creation of the Maginot Line and the other fortifications constructed in Europe before the Second World War.