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Battle of Verdun

French chasseurs à pied (light infantry) in the Bois des Caures, in the northeastern front on the first days of the Battle of Verdun. The chasseurs, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Émile Driant, were subjected to the devastating bombardment of February 21 and 22, 1916, and the assault of the 22nd and 23rd. Driant, a professional soldier and writer who had also represented the city of Nancy, was killed by a machine gun bullet through his forehead. After the two days in the trenches, only 118 of the original 1,200 infantrymen remained.
Text:
53. - Les Combats du Bois des Caures (Février 1916)
Dans les tranchées bouleversées, les chasseurs de Driant résistent deux jours
The Battle of Caures Wood (February, 1916)
In the shattered trenches, Driant's chasseurs resisted for two days.
Reverse:
Editions Visions de Guerre

French chasseurs à pied (light infantry) in the Bois des Caures, in the northeastern front on the first days of the Battle of Verdun. The chasseurs, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Émile Driant, were subjected to the devastating bombardment of February 21 and 22, 1916, and the assault of the 22nd and 23rd. Driant, a professional soldier and writer who had also represented the city of Nancy, was killed by a machine gun bullet through his forehead. After the two days in the trenches, only 118 of the original 1,200 infantrymen remained.

Image text

53. - Les Combats du Bois des Caures (Février 1916)



Dans les tranchées bouleversées, les chasseurs de Driant résistent deux jours



The Battle of Caures Wood (February, 1916)



In the shattered trenches, Driant's chasseurs resisted for two days.



Reverse:

Editions Visions de Guerre

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With German forces to its north and east, German Commander Falkenhayn imagined the Verdun salient as a funnel into which France would pour men and treasure in response to a German attack. He hoped to draw French defenders and reinforcements into a narrow channel, and destroy them with artillery from either side. He hoped, at little cost to his own forces, to bleed France white.

After the fall of the Belgian and French forts in 1914, and needing artillery, French Commander Joffre had removed artillery from remaining French forts. A German deserter warned the French of the impending attack at Verdun two weeks before it began, allowing the French to move reinforcements to the lightly held sector.

German artillery began bombarding Verdun on February 21. Over the next several days, German forces drove the French from the trench lines north of Verdun and east of the Meuse. On February 25, Fort Douaumont fell. French Prime Minister Briand convinced Joffre of the psychological importance of holding Verdun. Although Joffre was prepared to abandon the fortress, he answered Briand by putting General Pétain in command of its defense.

Pétain turned the French artillery on the German and Austro-Hungarian guns, putting many of them out of commission. Only a light-rail line and the Bar-le-Duc Road (le Voie Sacrée - the Sacred Way) allowed communication between Verdun and the rest of France, but Pétain kept it open to supplies and reinforcements.

Further German assaults stalled. On the Eastern Front, the Austro-Hungarian army was crumbling before Russia’s Brusilov Offensive, and, in mid-June, Falkenhayn moved troops from the Western to the Eastern Front to steady his ally. A last German attack in July failed.

The Kaiser replaced Falkenhayn with Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who formally ended the Verdun offensive on September 2.

1916-02-21

1916-09-02