Walking VerdunPosted on Thursday 4th February 2016
Verdun battlefield of 1916 is unlike any other. Blasted by shells for
ten months until forests, fields, farms and houses were completely
wiped off the map, it was regarded by the French government as
impossible to restore to pre-war use and handed over to the forestry
department. No one was allowed to live there again and the nine
villages destroyed in the battle were not rebuilt. As the years went
by, trees covered the devastated landscape but under the trees the
battle lives on, unvisited and unknown.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk the battlefield you can do so with Walking Verdun, a guide for visitors who want to get away from the crowds and see at first hand what remains of the longest battle of the First World War. And what remains! Trenches, camps, bunkers, machine gun posts, batteries and shelters Forts and fieldworks all bear witness to the months of struggle. With Walking Verdun you can head out from the destroyed village of Bezonvaux, now emerging like some Sleeping Beauty from a century of abandonment, through ravines used by thousands of German soldiers as they moved up to Fort Douaumont. Along forest tracks you’ll pass through a landscape of shell holes and trenches until you emerge from the forest at the edge of the ditch surrounding the fort and get a sense of the size and power of the greatest permanent work in the Verdun system before the First World War. Or you can discover the Bois des Caures, a scene of the heroic defence by Lieutenant-Colonel Driant’s Chasseurs - two under strength battalions – as they found the courage to face two German divisions after hours of unimaginable bombardment. Then, for a change, explore Fumin Wood, swamped by shells between March and June 1916 as the Germans inched towards Fort Vaux, or walk the Mort-Homme, the Dead Man, the sinisterly named hill on the Left Bank where the most striking monument of all, Death triumphant with French flag and laurel branch, marks the place where the German advance was stopped.
(Paperback - 176 pages)
by Christina Holstein
On 21 February 1916 the German Fifth Army launched a devastating offensive against French forces at Verdun and set in motion one of the most harrowing and prolonged battles of the Great War. By the time the struggle finished ten months later, over 650,000 men had been killed or wounded or were missing, and the terrible memory of the battle had been etched into the histories of France and Germany. This epic trial of military and national strength cannot be properly understood without visiting, and walking, the battlefield, and this…
Read more at Pen & Sword Books...
Of further interest...
Verdun 1916Wed 3rd February
In 1914 twenty-eight major and intermediary forts formed a double ring around the city of Verdun but it was Fort Douaumont which was the cornerstone of the system. On 25 February 1916, four days into the Battle of Verdun, it fell almost undefended into Ge Read article...
Malancourt Wood, VerdunWed 3rd February
An extract from Christina Holstein's new book: Verdun: The Left Bank available February 19, 2016 from Pen & Sword Books. Read article...
French Army at VerdunMon 22nd February
Extracted text and images from Ian Sumners latest book Images of War: French Army at Verdun Read article...
Retreat and Rearguard Dunkirk 1940Thu 26th May
Retreat and Rearguard Dunkirk 1940, written by Jerry Murland Read article...