Twelve facts from the Battle of Verdun
One hundred years ago today the Battle of Verdun started. It would turn out to be one of the biggest, baddest and most costly battles in the history of battles. Here are twelve tremendous facts about this monster fight for your viewing pleasure…
- The Battle of Verdun was the longest battle in the whole of the First World War. Lasting almost ten months (21 February 1916 – 18 December 1916)
- German Chief of General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn chose Verdun as the focus of the German offensive because it was historically important to the French as its forts had been key assets in wars since ancient times. Verdun was of greater value to France symbolically than strategically and Germany wanted to exploit this.
- Falkenhayn believed that the French would throw in every man they have to retain Verdun to prevent national humiliation. He intended the Verdun offensive to be a brutal battle of attrition to ‘Bleed France white’.
- The German offensive in Verdun was scheduled to begin on 12 February but due to poor weather it was delayed till 21 February, 1916.
- The French army were unprepared for such a large attack. The Germans occupied the huge fort at Douaumont – considered to be one of the most powerful forts in the word – by 25 February.
- During the battle of Verdun it is estimated that over 32 million artillery shells were fired
- On 23 June 1916, The German line was just in front of Fort Souville, 2.5 miles from Verdun itself. This was their furthest point of advance.
- In an effort to take the pressure off of the French army at Verdun and to divert German resources away from the city the British launched a diversionary attack on 1 July 1916: The Battle of the Somme. On 1 July
- The Germans were forces to transfer significant numbers of men and resources away from Verdun in an effort to shore up their defences on the Somme. By mid July the Germans were forced to stop any meaningful attacks at Verdun. The diversionary battle had worked.
- When the Battle of Verdun officially ended on 18 December the French had pushed back the Germans close to the line where the battle had started ten months earlier.
- The battle of Verdun caused approximately 1 million casualties, making it one of the most deadly battles in history
- Approximately half of all casualties of Verdun were killed