Franse troepe vier die herowering van Fort Douaumont by Verdun

Franse troepe vier die herowering van Fort Douaumont by Verdun

Op 25 Oktober 1916 juig Franse troepe nadat hulle Fort Douaumont, die vooraanstaande vesting wat die stad Verdun bewaak het, herower het sedert die vorige Februarie onder beleg van die Duitse weermag.

In Februarie 1916 is die mure van Verdun verdedig deur ongeveer 500 000 man wat in twee hoofvestings, Fort Douaumont en Fort Vaux, gestasioneer was. Die Duitsers, onder bevel van stafhoof Erich von Falkenhayn, het 1 miljoen man teen die stad gestuur in die hoop op 'n beslissende oorwinning aan die Westelike Front wat die Geallieerdes na 'n wapenstilstand sou dryf. Die eerste skoot is die oggend van 21 Februarie afgevuur, en die Duitsers het vinnig daarvandaan voortgegaan en twee lyne Franse loopgrawe oorval en die verdedigers teruggestoot na die mure van die stad self. Fort Douaumont was 'n massiewe struktuur, beskerm deur twee lae beton van meer as 'n meter dik, en omring deur 'n sewe meter diep graaf en 30 meter doringdraad. Die val van die Duitsers op 25 Februarie het 'n vroeë keerpunt geword in die stryd by Verdun. Sedertdien het Verdun 'n simboliese oorsaak geword wat die Franse bevel nie kon laat vaar nie: openbare sentiment het vereis dat die vesting herower word.

As die Duitse weermag probeer om 'die Franse wit te laat bloei', in Falkenhayn se woorde, was die Franse leër onder Phillipe Petain ewe vasbeslote dat die vyand nie by Verdun sou verbygaan nie. Die geveg het spoedig tot 'n bloedige dooiepunt gekom, en in die volgende tien maande sou die stad 'n paar van die felste en duurste gevegte van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog beleef, met 'n totaal van meer as 700 000 slagoffers. Teen die somer van 1916 is die Duitse hulpbronne dunner gestrek deur beide 'n Britse geleide offensief aan die Somme-rivier en Rusland se Brusilov-offensief aan die Oosfront te konfronteer. In Julie het die keiser, gefrustreerd deur die toestand in Verdun, Falkenhayn verwyder en hom gestuur om die 9de leër in Transsilvanië te beveel; Paul von Hindenburg het sy plek ingeneem. Petain is in April vervang deur Robert Nivelle, wat 'n teenaanvalstrategie geïmplementeer het wat die Franse in staat gestel het om 'n groot deel van hul verlore gebied teen die laat val te herwin.

Die belangrikste van hierdie Franse winste was die herowering van Fort Douaumont op 24 Oktober 1916. Onder 'n dekmantel van die aanval het Franse magte die fort wat deur Duitsers beset was, bo-op die nabygeleë Souville-heuwel aangeval, neergesak en aan die einde daarvan ongeveer 6.000 Duitse gevangenes geneem. dag. 'Douaumont is ons s'n', het 'n Franse stafoffisier geskryf wat die dag aan die aksie deelgeneem het. "Die formidabele Douaumont, wat oorheers met sy massa, sy waarnemingspunte, die twee oewers van die Maas, is weer Frans." Fort Vaux het ook skaars 'n week later weer in Franse hande geval. Alhoewel Duitse bevelvoerders soos Erich Ludendorff die impak van sulke "plaaslike" Franse oorwinnings verminder het, was die Duitse momentum in Verdun inderdaad besig om af te neem. Op 18 Desember 1916 het Hindenburg uiteindelik die aanvalle van sy leër op Verdun tot stilstand gebring, nadat die Franse 11.000 Duitse soldate in die laaste drie dae van die geveg gevang het.


Franse troepe vier die herowering van Fort Douaumont by Verdun - GESKIEDENIS

Die verligting van Knobelsdorf en Falkenhayn

Die Duitse troepe word al hoe meer gedemoraliseer namate die druk deur die Franse aan die voorkant toeneem.

'N Duitse offisier: … die aantal afvalliges neem toe, die voorste soldate word gevoelloos deur die lyke sonder koppe, sonder bene, deur die maag te sien skiet, met weggeblaasde voorkoppe, met gate in hul bors, skaars herkenbare flake,#bleek en vuil die dik geelbruin modder, wat die slagveld dek …

Om die gees op te hef, is die algemene bevel van Lochow baie streng as lafhartigheid en insubordinasie meer as een keer plaasvind, en daar is onmiddellike teregstellings.

Woensdag - 23 Augustus Die Duitse hoofkwartier in Stenay ontvang die boodskap dat generaal Knobelsdorf van sy plig onthef gaan word. Hy word verantwoordelik gehou vir die mislukte Verdun -offensief, wat dreig om met 'n nederlaag te eindig. Kritiek op Falkenhayn neem ook toe. Hy word aanspreeklik gehou vir die feit dat die Verdun -geveg, wat bedoel was om die Franse dood te blaas, in 'n maalvleis verander het, wat ook die Duitse troepe en artillerie in sy masjien maal. Dit veroorsaak uiteindelik dat alle aanstootlike moontlikhede misluk.

As dit lyk asof Rumania op Sondag 27 Augustus by die geallieerde magte aansluit in plaas van neutraal te bly, ontstaan ​​daar 'n krisissituasie by die Duitse opperbevel in Charleville-Mesiers. Die Duitse keiser besluit dat Ludendorff en Von Hindenburg, wat hul waarde aan die Oosfront bewys het, die nuwe Opperkommandante moet word en dat Falkenhayn na Roemenië oorgeplaas sal word.

Nadat hy deur die kroonprins oortuig is, is die eerste maatreël wat generaal Ludendorff neem om die Duitse aktiwiteite in Verdun te beëindig, maar ongelukkig kan die kursus nie opgegee word nie. Die Franse oorweeg dit nie eens om die stryd te staak nie. Hulle gaan voort om Duitse vestings aan te val, wat gewoonlik moeilik is om te verdedig, en dit is die rede waarom die Duitsers meer verliese ly as die Franse.

Die Franse leërkommando is vasbeslote om die Duitsers vir die laaste keer te verslaan. Die groot aanval word in besonderhede voorberei. Die regteroewer van die Maas verander in 'n enorme konstruksieterrein: paaie en artillerie -vestings word gebou en groot voorraad ammunisie word geberg. Generaal Mangin beskik oor agt afdelings wat in die binneland opgelei is, op 'n spottige slagveld met forte.

Generaal Nivelle ontwikkel 'n nuwe artillerietaktiek: die kruipende spervuur. Hiermee marsjeer die infanterie reg agter die soliede artillerievuur, wat na die voorkant beweeg word, en spring 100 meter op 'n slag. Aanvalstroepe en skulpvure bereik byna gelyktydig die vyandelike lyne en die verdediging sal nie meer tyd hê om uit hul bunkers te verskyn nie. Hierdie nuwe metode vereis 'n perfekte koördinasie tussen artillerie en infanterie: hiervoor word 'n spesiaal ontwerpte ondergrondse telefoonnetwerk aangelê. Boonop kan Nivelle gebruik maak van die 400 mm Creusot-Schneider-gewere, wat 'n enorme deurdringingsvermoë het. Hulle word op relings 6 kilometer van Verdun geplaas en moet op die forte skiet.

Die val van Fort Douaumont en Fort Vaux

Saterdag - 21 Oktober
Die Franse aanval begin 'n bombardement met 'n baie sterk kaliber op 'n frontale breedte van 7 kilometer. Terselfdertyd word Fort Douaumont met die nuwe 400 mm-gewere onder skoot geneem, die bombardement word gerig vanaf 'n verkenningsvliegtuig wat op daardie tydstip bo die fort draai.

'N Duitse soldaat: … in die trommelvuur bestaan ​​dapperheid nie meer nie: slegs senuwees, senuwees, senuwees. As iemand aan sulke beproewings blootgestel word, is hy nie meer van nut as aanvaller of verdediger nie.

Die volgende dag raak die Franse artillerie skielik stil.
Die Duitsers wag op die aanval en hul batterye begin skiet en gee dus hul posisie weg. Daar is egter geen aanval nie. Die Franse hervat die bombardement en kan 70 persent van die Duitse batterye beskadig.

Maandag - 23 Oktober Beide Creusot-Schneider-gewere begin weer by Fort Douamont afvuur. Twee perfekte treffers dring die kern van die fort binne en veroorsaak enorme skade. Die ligte hou op skyn en die tweede hou doodmaak alles wat in die militêre hospitaal voorkom. Daar ontstaan ​​ook 'n vuur. Ongelukkig maak granate talle slagoffers. Daar is baie gewondes en vergiftig met gas en die troepe begin paniekerig raak.

Die Duitse bevelvoerder besluit om die fort te ontruim. 'N Klein besettingsmag bly agter in die fort, onder bevel van kaptein Soltau. Op sy versoek om versterkings te stuur, ontvang hy geen reaksie nie en omdat hy die fort nie met slegs 'n paar soldate kan verdedig nie, besluit hy om die fort te ontruim. Onder die eerste groep wat die fort verlaat het, was kaptein Prollius wat die besluit neem om na die fort terug te keer omdat hy dit verkeerd ag om die fort sonder 'n geveg aan die Franse te oorhandig. Na deeglike inspeksie lyk dit of die fort vry is van gas en dit lyk asof die brande onder beheer is. Met nie meer as twintig haastig vergaderde mans besluit hy om Fort Douaumont weer te beset.

Dinsdag - 24 Oktober om 12:00 Die Franse aanvallers kom in aksie, ondanks die feit dat die slagveld bedek is met 'n dik mis. Die stelsel van kruipende spervuur ​​werk perfek, die koördinasie tussen infanterie en artillerie blyk foutloos te wees en die Duitse front word teruggedruk. Fleury en die Bois de Chapitre word geneem deur die Thiaumont-vesting en Fort Douaumont word bereik.

Op sommige plekke staan ​​die Duitsers vas, byvoorbeeld by Haudromont, hoofsaaklik as gevolg van die strategies geplaasde masjiengeweerneste. Die inname van Fort Douaumont word onder die bevel van Nicola in die hande van die Regiment d ’Infantery Coloniale du Maroc gelê. Na 'n kort ontmoeting besluit kaptein Prollius om die fort aan majoor Nicola te oorhandig . Die Duitsers verloor hul belangrikste basis aan die Verdun -front.

(Let op: gedurende hierdie dae voor die Franse aanval word 240,000 granate per dag op 'n gemiddelde dag afgevuur, dit is 100,000. In die vorige sewe maande het die Franse na raming 23 000 000 granate gebruik.)

Die Duitse linkervleuel bied baie weerstand in die lyn tussen Fort Vaux en die Bois de Fumin, waar die Franse regimente baie verliese gely het.
Eers laat in die aand word die verset prysgegee. Baie Duitsers gee oor en verdwyn in ballingskap. Fort Vaux is die volgende aanvalsdoel vir die Franse.

Woensdag - 25 Oktober Fort Vaux word aangeval. Die eerste Franse golf van aanvalle word deur die Duitse masjiengeweervuur ​​doodgeskiet. Sonder genade organiseer die Franse bevelvoerders nog twee aanvalle sonder artillerieondersteuning en weer die Franse ineenstorting onder die moordende vuurwapen.
Die hele slagveld is bedek met 'n geskatte 800 tot 1 000 dood, die aantal gewondes is ontelbaar. Alhoewel dit 'n uitsondering is, neem beide partye 'n blaaskans van die geveg om die dooies te begrawe en om die gewondes te versorg (Bron: Werth, bl. 342). Die aanvalle op Fort Vaux word hierna gestaak.

Dit blyk dat die fort met 'n nuwe Franse aanval van die Bois de la Caillette afgesny sal word van die Duitse frontlyn, wat by Hardoumont aangelê word. Aan Duitse kant word die konsep van strategiese nadeel vir die eerste keer genoem, 'n konsep wat nie voorheen genoem kon word nie.

Generaal Ludendorff is sterk ten gunste daarvan om die troepe uit voorste situasies, wat nie meer 'n strategiese doel het nie, te onttrek om onnodige verliese te vermy. Daar word besluit om Fort Vaux te ontruim en dit te vernietig.
Op Donderdag 2 November om 12:00. begin die garnisoen en om 13:30. die plofstof word ontplof.

(Let op: Slegs op 3 November betree die Franse die res van die fort nadat hulle gehoor het dat die fort ontruim is, oor die Duitse radio. Bron: Werth p. 344).

Die laaste Franse offensief

Na die val van Fort Vaux bly dit 'n paar weke stil aan die voorkant. Intussen is generaal Nivelle aangestel as opperbevelhebber van die Franse leër en generaal Mangin tot opperbevelvoerder van die Verdun -front. Mangin besluit om nog een keer aan te val om die Duitsers terug te dwing na hul oorspronklike posisie van Februarie 1916.

'N Franse soldaat: … almal wat dekking soek in 'n skulpgat, struikel oor gladde, ontbindende lywe en moet met stinkende hande en stinkende klere aangaan …

Maandag - 11 Desember Die Franse beskieting begin weer in alle intensiteit en op Woensdag 13 Desember word die kruipende spervuur ​​weer in werking. Tog gee die Duitsers nie oor nie.

Die verliese aan die Franse kant is enorm, maar uiteindelik breek die voorkant oop: Bezonvaux, die Bois de Hassoule, die Bois de Chauffour en Louvemont word deur die Franse troepe herower.

'N Duitse soldaat skryf aan sy ouers:. 'N Aaklige woord, Verdun. Talle mense, nog jonk en vervul met hoop, moes hul lewens hier aflê en hul sterflike oorblyfsels ontbind êrens, tussen loopgrawe, in massagrafte, by begraafplase.

Duitse versterkings wat haastig aangekom het, staan ​​vas in 'n lyn wat bestaan ​​uit onderling gekoppelde dopgate waarin die Duitsers staan, en bibber in ysige koue water wat tot op hul knieë kom.

Dinsdag - 19 Desember Die Duitse leërkommando kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat daar by Verdun 'n volledige nederlaag gely is. Meer as 11 000 Duitse soldate en offisiere het oorgegee dat hulle dikwels nie eers uit hul skuilings gekom het om te veg nie. Op daardie datum word die Duitse weermag definitief teruggegooi in sy oorspronklike posisies. Die Slag van Verdun het tot 'n einde gekom.


Francouzsk á vojska slav í znovuz ísk án í Fort Douaumont ve Verdunu

25. ř íjna 1916 se francouzsk é jednotky raduj í po opětovn ém zajet í Fort Douaumont, předn í pevnosti střež íc í město Verdun, kter á#225#225#225#225#225#225#225 předchoz ího února.

V únoru 1916 obhajovaly zdi Verdunu asi 500 000 muzy rozm ístěn ých ve dvou hlavn ích pevnostech, Fort Douaumont en Fort Vaux. Němci, velen í n áčeln íkem št ábu Erichem von Falkenhaynem, poslali proti městu 1 milion mužů a doufali v rozhoduj íc í v ítězstv í na z ápadn & p k př íměř í. Prvn í v ýstřel byl odp álen r áno 21. února a Němci odtamtud rychle postupovali, překonali dvě řady francouzsk ých z ákopů a tlačili obr ánce zpět na zdi. Fort Douaumont byla masivn í konstrukce chr áněn á dvěma vrstvami betonu přes metr tlustou a obklopen á sedmimetrovou hloubkou př íkopu a 30 metrů ostnat ého dr átu. Jeho p ád Němcům 25. února se stal poč átkem obratu v boji na Verdunu. Ons kan ook die Verdun stal symbolickou př íčinou francouzsk ého př íkazu, kter ý nemohl opustit: veřejn ý sentiment požadoval znovuobnoven í page.

Pokud se německ á arm áda snažila „krv ácet francouzskou b ílou“, podle Falkenhaynov ých slov byla francouzsk á arm áda pod Phillipe Petainem stejně určena, že nepř ítel nepř. Bitva se brzy ust álila v krvav ém patu a během př íšt ích 10 měs íců by město vidělo nejkrutějš í a nejn ákladnějš í boje z prvn í svět í svět í svět sien í. V l étě roku 1916 byly německ é zdroje nataženy t ím, že musely čelit jak britsk é ofenzivě na řece Somme, tak rusk é brusilovsk é ofenzivě na v āchodě. V červenci odstranil Kaiser frustrovan ý stavem věc í en Verdunu Falkenhayna a poslal ho, aby velel 9. arm ádě v Sedmihradsku Nahradil ho Paul von Hindenburg. Petaina v dubnu vystř ídal Robert Nivelle, kter ý implementoval strategii proti útoku, kter á umožnila Francouzům, aby se pozdn ím p ádem znovu zmocnili většiny sv ého ztrho ého ztrhoen

Hlavn & # 237 z těchto francouzsk & # 253ch zisků bylo znovuz & # 237sk & # 225n & # 237 Fort Douaumont dne 24. R & # 237jna 1916. Francouzsk & # 233 s & # 237ly pod z & # 225štitou mlhy za & # 250točily na německou okupovanou pevnost na vrcholu nedalek & # 233ho kopce Souville, dit is 'n goeie idee om 6 000 huise en#253 te gebruik. & quotDouaumont je n áš, & quot napsal francouzsk ý št ábn í důstojn ík, kter ý se toho dne z účastnil akce. & quot Úžasn ý Douaumont, kter ý dominuje svou hmotou, jeho pozorovac í body, dva břehy řeky Meuse, jsou opět Francouzi. & quot Fort Vaux se tak é o t ýden později vr á Přestože němečt í velitel é, jako je Erich Ludendorff, snižovali dopad takov ých „m ístn ích“ francouzsk ých v ítězstv í, německ á dynamica ve Verdna 18. prosince 1916 Hindenburg konečně zastavil útoky sv é arm ády na Verdun, pot é, co Francouzi během posledn ích tř í dnů bitvy zajali 11 000 německ ých voj áků.


Die Slag van Verdun tydens die Eerste Wêreldoorlog

Die Slag van Verdun, wat net drie dae minder as tien maande duur, was 'n ontsettende bloedverlies tussen die Duitse leër en die Franse leër in 1916. Meer as 300 000 mans aan beide kante sterf, gemiddeld 3 000 mense per maand. Vir die Franse was die stryd 'n oorwinning, want hulle het die Duitse aanvalle verslaan om die belangrikste in die voorste linies te verminder, wat geanker was deur die vestings wat Verdun omring, wat die Franse besluit het om te laat vaar en te vernietig voordat die Duitsers dit aanval. Dit was een van die duurste gevegte in die geskiedenis van die mens, sowel as een van die langste.

Franse troepe gaan vorentoe om aan te val tydens die byna jaar lange Slag van Verdun. Wikimedia

Verdun was 'n ou vesting in die Franse geskiedenis. Attila kon dit nie in die vyfde eeu vasvang nie. In die 1600's is 'n verdedigende vesting in die middel van die stad opgerig, en in die 19de eeu is bykomende versterkings rondom die stad gebou. Hulle het voortgegaan om die verdedigingsplase in die beginjare van die 20ste eeu te versterk. Toe vroeë gevegte in die Eerste Wêreldoorlog vestings onthul het wat nie in staat was om Duitse aanvalle te weerstaan ​​nie, het die Franse besluit om die swaar gewere wat by Verdun geplaas is, te verwyder en die forte te vernietig en dit aan die Duitsers te ontken. Hulle was besig om dit te doen toe die Duitsers aanval. Die Franse het besluit om vas te staan ​​omdat dit simbolies belangrik was.

Vestings en versterkte batterye op die heuwels aan weerskante van die Maasrivier het Verdun omring. Wikimedia

1. Verdun was 'n reeks forte en batterye wat mekaar verdedig het

Die forte waaruit die versterkte streek Verdun bestaan ​​(Region Fortifee de Verdun, of RFV) is deur die jare gebou, baie daarvan gemoderniseer voor die Eerste Wêreldoorlog. Gedurende die eerste jaar van die oorlog, voordat dit oorgegaan het na loopgraafoorlogvoering langs die Westelike Front, het die Franse erken dat hul vyand swaar gewere, sommige so groot soos dié op slagskepe, effektief was om versterkte posisies te verminder. Die Franse het baie van hul eie swaar gewere en veldartillerie uit die Verdun -forte onttrek. Die 18 forte en batterye is gestroop totdat slegs ongeveer 300 gewere en minimale ammunisie teen die einde van 1915 oor was.

Verskeie van die forte was beman met onderhoudspanne, en Forts Vaux en Douaumont het ontploffings gelaai om dit te vernietig as die Duitsers probeer vorder. Die ondersteunende forte en plase was op die heuwelagtige grond rondom Verdun sur Meuse, oos en wes van die Maasrivier. Behalwe die forte en versterkte batterye was daar 'n omringende doolhof van masjiengeweerplase. Vroeëre gevegte het die RFV alles behalwe geïsoleer, met slegs een ligte spoorlyn om ammunisie en voorrade aan die garnisoen te verskaf, wat voldoende voorraad vir ses maande gehad het. Die gebrek aan spoorwegvervoer het die verwydering van die oorblywende gewere binne die RFV vertraag.


22/5/1916 Verdun: die Franse poging om Fort Douaumont te herower

Sedert Fort Douaumont in 'n verleentheid aan die Duitsers te beurt geval het, was die Franse verdediger Verdun 'n doring in die sy. Die Franse wil dit graag weer neem, ondanks die groot verliese wat 'n aanval op die fort waarskynlik sal veroorsaak. Aangesien die onlangse inferno in die fort die verdedigers onrustig gemaak het, is dit dalk die tyd dat die Franse toeslaan.

Franse artillerie het die fort geteister en die Duitsers die afgelope paar dae onmiddellik daaroor. Nou beweeg die Franse infanterie vorentoe. Duitse artillerie kap die Franse af terwyl hulle hul eie loopgrawe verlaat. Meer word doodgemaak deur geweer- en masjiengeweervuur ​​terwyl hulle vorentoe beweeg. Maar op 'n manier haal die Franse die boonste gebou van die fort. Alhoewel hulle in staat is om 'n beskadigde masjiengeweerpaal te gryp, misluk hulle pogings om die fort binne te storm. Die Franse word op 'n gevaarlike manier geloer op en om die fort, terwyl die Duitsers op hulle vuur gooi en 'n teenaanval voorberei.

Deel dit:

Soos hierdie:

Verwante

Gee 'n antwoord Kanseleer antwoord

Hierdie webwerf gebruik Akismet om strooipos te verminder. Lees hoe u kommentaardata verwerk word.


Geskiedenis en die mooiste beleg van 1017 feite oor die slag van Verdun wat u moontlik nie geken het

www.lefigaro.fr

Die Duitse voorbereidings vir die geveg behels groot opbou van manne en toerusting. Nabygeleë dorpe is ontruim en aktiwiteite gekamoefleer. Langafstandgewere is opgestel om die Franse nie te versterk nie. Die soldate het nuwe paaie en spoorweë gebou, swaar betonbunkers bymekaargemaak en meer as 1200 artilleriestukke opgegaar. 1300 ammunisietreine het 'n verstommende hoeveelheid ammunisie van 2.500.000 skulpe gebring. Tien afdelings van 150 000 man in totaal is eers gebring. Die Duitsers het meer as 7 weke lank voorberei vir die Slag van Verdun en hulle het dit reg onder die neuse van die Franse gedoen.

Die Franse was grootliks onbewus van al die Duitse voorbereidings langs die voorste linies. Die swak weer en rowwe terrein het gehelp om die optrede van die Duitsers te verberg en die Franse is versterk deur die feit dat Verdun tot dusver in die oorlog tot dusver onaangeraak was. Baie van die wapens en bataljons wat bedoel was om Verdun te bewaak, is na ander gebiede gestuur, aangesien die versterkte stad alleen deur die Duitsers gelaat is. Die Franse hoëkommando het nie verwag dat die Duitsers die spesifieke deel van die front sou aanval nie. Hoof-bevelvoerder Joffre het selfs so ver gegaan as om te sê & ldquoVerdun is nie 'n moontlike teiken nie. & Rdquo Dus is die verdediging, wapens en troepe by Verdun verwaarloos. Toe dit duidelik word dat daar 'n geveg by Verdun gaan plaasvind, is die versoeke om versterkings traag beantwoord.


Geskiedenis en die mooiste beleg van 1017 feite oor die slag van Verdun wat u moontlik nie geken het

www.historvius.com

Op 25 Februarie nader Duitse magte Fort Douaumont, 5 myl weg van Verdun en die versterkte van die 40 Franse forte in die streek. Die fort is ontwerp om 635 soldate en baie swaar artillerie te huisves. Maar teen 1914 is die getal verminder tot slegs 'n enkele artillerie -onderneming en artillerie en ingenieurs, dus net minder as 500 man. Namate die oorlog vorder, het die Franse egter gesien hoe soortgelyke Belgiese forte die Duitse offensief nie kon uithou nie. Dit tesame met die noodsaaklikheid om soldate en artillerie na die hoofgeveg by Verdun te stuur, het die aantal soldate by Douaumont op ongeveer 56 bejaarde kanonniers gelaat.

'N Klein groepie Duitsers onder leiding van luitenant Eugen Radtke op 25 Februarie 1916 kon deur sy ondergrondse kamers dwaal en die Franse verdedigers een na die ander bymekaarbring. Hulle het gou die hele garnisoen gevange geneem sonder om 'n enkele skoot af te vuur en ly aan enige slagoffer of weerstand. Die nuus oor Douaumont & rsquos se val is nie in die plaaslike Paryse koerante gerapporteer nie (wat eintlik berig dat alles goed gaan), maar dit was 'n ernstige slag vir die moraal van die Franse soldate. Dit sou agt maande en tienduisende ongevalle duur voordat die Franse Douaumont in Oktober 1916 kon herower. Vandag staan ​​die fort nog en bevat 'n gedenkteken vir diegene wat tydens die Slag van Verdun verlore geraak het, insluitend die meer as 650 Duitse soldate wat sterf weens 'n ontploffing op 8 Mei 1916.


Inhoud

Entente -strategie om te wen is redelik eenvoudig - neem die kaserne -gedeelte van die fort. Daarna kan aanvalle op verskeie ander dele van die lyn aangebring word.

Aanval [wysig | wysig bron]

Kaserne [wysig | wysig bron]

Om die kaserne te neem is redelik eenvoudig. Aan die regterkant van die fort is daar 'n aantal kamers wat oop is vir Entente -aanval. Alhoewel hulle oor die algemeen deur Duitse troepe verdedig word, is dit nie heeltemal moeilik om te oorkom nie. As u 'n aantal troepe in hierdie kamers hou, wat feitlik triviaal is om te verdedig, sal dit die fort binne enkele minute oplewer. Dit is moeiliker om in die gang agter die kamers uit te breek.

Links, op die heuwels wat uitkyk op die groot tonnel in die middel-linkerkant, is dit byna triviaal vir sluipskutters van Entente om vyandelike soldate af te neem terwyl hulle die tonnel binnegaan, terwyl hulle lang afstand bied teen 'n vyand se flankaanval. links.

Duitse tweede reël [wysig | wysig bron]

Die Duitse tweede lyn, agter die kaserne, is moeiliker om aan te val. Die middelpunt van die kaart in daardie gebied is 'n valstrik, omring deur goeie snip -posisies wat die Duitsers op die flanke beklee. Entente magte moet probeer om deur die flanke te ry om hulle direk uit te haal, eers met granate en dan met oorweldigende krag.

Dit is oor die algemeen problematies om hierdie lyn vas te hou, aangesien Duitsers op die heuwel agter die lyn sal spaai, meestal buite sig, en vinnig die beheer oor gebiede kan terugneem voordat hulle gevestig word.

Heel regs van die Duitse lyn en die heuwel voor die Duitse linkerkant bestaan ​​nuttige sniposisies. Dit kan handig wees om vyandskutskutters op die flanke uit te haal en dekking te bied vir die ongelukkige siele wat probeer om die middel met 'n frontale aanval te neem.

Verdedig [wysig | wysig bron]

Entente eerste reël [wysig | wysig bron]

As hy verdedig, sal die vyand effens regs van die middel-linker tonnel op die linker-middel krater kuit. Oor die algemeen vorder die Duitsers óf skuins in die middel van die kaart, waar hulle vernietig kan word deur vuur te blokkeer, óf heel links. Laasgenoemde is gevaarliker, aangesien daar genoeg dekking aan die linkerkant is. Entente-posisies is waarskynlik die beste gekonsentreer op die boonste verdieping, met troepe van nabye kant wat op die onderste vlakke rondbeweeg en die gebied van vastrapplek skoonmaak.

Kaserne [wysig | wysig bron]

Die kaserne is redelik eenvoudig. Hou die ingang heel regs met ongeveer een span, hou die linker ingang met een span en hou die heel links met twee. Heel links is verreweg die swakste gedeelte van die lyn - Duitse troepe kan maklik infiltreer en dan die bunker aan die linkerkant van die lyn beheer neem, wat moeilik is om te neem sonder oorweldigende krag en granate.

Die Duitse vastrapplek sal byna altyd óf die linkerkantse bunker óf in die kamers in die middel van die fort wees. Die heel links bunker kan baie problematies wees deurdat Duitsers dan die troepe wat die middel-linker tonnel verdedig, kan kuit en flank. Die kamers is ook uiters verdedigbaar, wat 'n groot probleem is om verdedigers uit te spoel wanneer hulle nie herlaai word nie.


Fort Douaumont, Verdun

Fort Douaumont was die grootste van die forte rondom die stad Verdun. Gebou in die 1890's was dit ten tyde van die konstruksie die nuutste tegnologie. In 1916 Douaumont het een van die fokuspunte van die Slag van Verdun, een van die mees wrede gevegte van Eerste Wêreldoorlog wat gesien het hoe Franse en Duitse troepe bitter baklei oor die forte en die omliggende gebied.

Nadat hy in 1914 die bombardement van België en rsquos se verdedigende forte gesien het deur die kolossale Duitse 420 mm -houwitsers, wat kaste verbrysel en die forte nutteloos gemaak het, het die Franse opperbevel die Verdun -forte as onverdedigbaar beskou en beveel dat baie van hulle verlaat moet word. As gevolg hiervan in Februarie 1916, toe die Duitsers hul aanval by Verdun begin het Fort Douaumont was allesbehalwe verlate, verdedig deur slegs 'n teken Franse mag wat vinnig oorgegee het toe sy verdediging deur Duitse sappers geïnfiltreer is.

Dit was 'n ernstige verleentheid vir die Franse weermag en pogings om die fort te herower, het in Mei begin. Miljoene rondtes is op die fort afgevuur deur Franse artillerie wat uitgeloop het op 'n bombardement deur twee groot 12 duim spoorweggewere wat die fort & rsquos -verdediging stamp. Hierdie ongeëwenaarde kanonade het die fort en die omliggende omgewing vinnig omskep in 'n maanlandskap van dopkraters. Hierdie desimasie kan gesien word in die reeks opvallende lugfoto's wat gedurende die loop van die geveg in 1916 van die fort geneem is. Die bombardement het die Franse taak waarskynlik nog moeiliker gemaak; dit het uiteindelik drie Franse infanteriedivisies geneem om weer te herower Douaumont nege maande nadat dit geval het.

Die Franse het 'n groot hoeveelheid mans en materiaal vermors om 'n fort te herwin wat hulle op geldige strategiese gronde laat vaar het. As hulle die fort verdedig het soos oorspronklik bedoel, sou die Duitsers ongetwyfeld die fort gebombardeer het en dit uiteindelik ingeneem het, maar waarskynlik met groot verlies. In plaas daarvan was dit die Franse wat moes herhaal Douaumont wat die Duitsers as 'n sterk punt en 'n verhoogpos gebruik het.

Die Slag van Verdun was 'n groot nasionale trots vir die Franse, hulle het die Duitsers onderskat en diep in hul eie land teruggedruk. Daar was groot openbare druk op die Franse leër om 'n oorwinning te behaal en baie het gesien Verdun as die grens wat nie oorgesteek kon word nie. Die nasionale sentiment het & ldquo gewordil ne passeront pas& rdquo, & lsquothey sal nie slaag nie & rsquo. Uiteindelik het die Duitsers nie geslaag nie, maar nie voordat die Franse 'n halfmiljoen ongevalle opgedoen het nie en die Duitsers ongeveer 400 000 dood en gewond verloor het.


Franse troepe vier die herowering van Fort Douaumont by Verdun - GESKIEDENIS

Die Slag om Fort Vaux

As die stryd om Verdun aan die begin van Maart stagneer, kom die Duitse leërkommando tot die gevolgtrekking dat eers die Franse artillerievuur vanaf die linkeroewer moet uitgeskakel word voordat 'n suksesvolle opmars na Verdun langs die regteroewer moontlik is. Die Slag om die Flanke is op die punt om te begin. Die aanval op die linkeroewer word uitgevoer deur die VIde Duitse Reserwe -leërkorps. Aan die linkeroeweroewer begin die geveg op Maandag 6 Maart.

Op die regteroewer begin die geveg op Woensdag 8 Maart, die mikpunt is Fort Vaux. Die aanval is vir twee dae uitgestel omdat die Duitsers groot probleme ondervind om hul artillerie in posisie te bring weens die haglike toestand van die terrein. Intussen het die Franse die oorblywende forte herbeset en hul verdedigingslinies versterk. Die lyne by Fort Vaux is op hierdie oomblik die sterkste voorste posisies.

(Let op: Van Duitse kant is die idee genoem om bergkanonne in deursnee te ontplooi. Hierdie idee word verwerp: vir die vervoer van 12 stukke was 1200 man nodig en meer as 900 perde. So 'n woonwa sou uiters broos wees onder ernstige omstandighede.)

Woensdag - 8 Maart Die aanval op die regteroewer begin soos gewoonlik: eers is daar 'n trommelvuur van die artillerie waar gasgranate gebruik word, daarna volg 'n massa -infanterie -aanval. Die leërkorps van die Vth -reservaat moet die aanval uitvoer onder bevel van generaal Von Guretzky en die IIId -leërkorps onder generaal Von Lochow. Fort Vaux blyk te wees, maar tussen Hardoumont en Fort Vaux loop 'n 100 meter diep kloof. Aan die onderkant van hierdie kloof is die dorpie Vaux, wat deur 'n klein rivier wat in 'n groot dam in die Weste eindig, gelei word. Die aanval stagneer onmiddellik weens die hewige vuur van die Franse, wat afkomstig is van die hoër verdediging van Fort Vaux. Tog ontvang die Vth reserwe weermag korps die bevel om weer aan te val. This nightly German attack has an unexpected success the French were not expecting another attack and were taken by surprise. The village of Vaux is now in German hands and the troops have reached the defence lines halfway on the slopes of the fort . The attack ends, however, in chaos on German side. In the inky darkness of the night the companies lose their way, officers disappear and there is no communication whatsoever. The German troops are forced to dig themselves in because of the brutal fire coming from the French lines.

Thursday - 9 March In the morning the German 64th Infantry Regiment is ordered to occupy the Bois Fumin, situated next to the fort, because Fort Vaux had supposedly already fallen into German hands. Soon after, rumours are heard through the grapevine. There is even speculation of German infantrymen on top of the fort. Furthermore, an alleged red and yellow German flag is seen blowing on top of the fort. That same morning the following announcement can be heard: 'have reached Fort Vaux with three companies'. This message is interpreted as 'have conquered Fort Vaux'.

This message is spread to the world and General Von Guretzky is awarded the highest German decoration, the 'Pour le M rite'. When it is discovered that the message is incorrect this bestowing of honour has to be reversed the next day.
The IIId army corps headed by General Von Lochow has to erase this painful memory and is immediately ordered to finally conquer Fort Vaux entirely.
But the unthinkable happens: two regimental commanders disobey this order as they feel that: 'it is useless to attack without artillery support of the flank'. The reserve forces of General Von Guretzky are then appointed to attack the fort without artillery support. This useless and bloody attack is withstood successfully by the French.

Saturday - 11 March The troops of the IIId and XVIIIth German army corps are finally relieved of their duties. The men are completely exhausted.

A German eye-witness: . The losses are registered as follows: they are dead, wounded, missing, nervous wrecks, ill and exhausted. Nearly all suffer from dysentery. Because of the failing provisioning the men are forced to use up their emergency rations of salty meats. They quenched their thirst with water from the shellholes. They are stationed in the village of Ville where every form of care seems to be missing. They have to build their own accommodation and are given a little cacao to stop the diarrhoea. The latrines, wooden beams hanging over open holes, are occupied day and night – the holes are filled with slime and blood.

The first German attack on the right bank of the Meuse has failed.

Sunday - 19 March From this day on the German army on the right bank is reorganised. The three Army Forces are joined together into one Eastern Army Force [Angriffsgruppe Ost] commanded by General Von Mudra (a fortress specialist). The Battle of Fort Vaux continues. The Germans achieve small successes but the losses are enormous. In the front lines nobody is willing to attack any more. General Von Bahrfeldt reports to headquarters: 'an attack by the Xth division is out of the question. My men are totally apathetic and completely exhausted'. This message also reaches up to Commander-in-chief Von Knobelsdorf. He eventually has to give in to the pressure of his officers: the attack of Fort Vaux is postponed until fresh troops can be stationed at the front. (Let op: General Von Bahrfeldt is of course quickly replaced.)

Friday - 14 April The 50th Infantry division arrives to strengthen the Vth Reserve Army Corps at Fort Vaux. At the end of April all preparations for continuing the battle are made. In the meantime General Von Mudra has been replaced by General Von Lochow as Commander of the Angriffsgruppe Ost. Thus far he had been Commander of the IIId (Brandenburger) Army Corps, the conquerors of Fort Douaumont. Von Mudra warns him not to take rash military decisions that will inevitably lead to more unnecessary losses. The next large attack is set for Sunday 7 May, birthday of the Crown Prince. The code name is 'May bowl'.

The German and French relieve system

The German army Command begins to seriously worry about the decreasing quality of the front troops. The Germans were used to sending their troops to the front and let these troops remain there for months. The losses were compensated for with young soldiers, often not above 18 years of age and without any frontline experience whatsoever. The infantry battalion commanders begged their officers to send experienced soldiers. These inexperienced children did not stand a chance there.

The French, commanded by P tain, used a totally different system. Their divisions were stationed at the front and after a short while completely replaced with fresh divisions. This so-called Noria-system provided the French with less exhausted troops than the Germans were left with. Consequently the French troops felt much more involved with the Battle of Verdun than the Germans did. Approximately 70 percent of the French troops were sacrificed to the 'mincer' of Verdun.

P tain replaced by Nivelle

At the side of the French a crisis situation occurred in the army Command. Joffre blamed P tain a too careful and too defensive attitude. Furthermore, when P tain demanded a longer period of rest for his divisions, Joffre concluded that the planned offensive of the Somme would be in danger. P tain was kicked upstairs and received the function of Commander-in-chief of the Central Army Group, to which division Verdun belonged as well. His replacement from Monday 1 May was General Robert Nivelle, who was known for being a ruthless fighter that favoured the frontal attack [l’ attaque outrance]. One of his subordinates, his right hand man, is General Charles Mangin. This is a rock-hard front General, who had already been in command at Verdun, of the Vth Division, and who was nicknamed the 'slaughterer' because of his ruthless attacks. Mangin made it his aim to recapture Fort Douaumont.

Monday - 1 May The attack of Fort Vaux is begun. The army command wants to clear the French lines in the Bois de la Caillette first before the fort is actually attacked. The position of these French lines is a severe obstacle for the attacker when storming the fort. However, German Headquarters decides differently: fort Vaux has to be attacked first. On Sunday 7 May it becomes clear that the German attack has failed again. The French artillery fire, lead by observation balloons and aircraft is too severe. The Germans are forced back. The attack of the Thiaumont- fortification, which was started on the same day, fails as well, due to the severe French artillery fire. There is no German air-raid protection that day. The German planes had not taken off, in order to throw of the French, and not give away the surprise attack.

In the meantime Fort Douaumont has become the basis for all German activities in the frontline, against the Bois de la Caillette, the Thiaumont-line and later against Fleury. The munitions depots are situated here, wounded can receive medical attention and the provisioning of all front troops are initiated from Fort Douaumont. The fort is attacked by the French, night and day. All German activities take place at night in order for the movement of troops not to be visible from barrage balloons and aircraft. The French artillery keeps firing at the supply routes and the Germans move in between attacks. On Monday - 8 May 4:00 a.m. there is an hughe explosion in the fort. There is a large number of deaths.

Read more about the explosion in Fort Douaumont

Because of the severe French resistance at Fort Vaux, Bois de la Caillette and the Thiaumont-fortification, combined with the catastrophe in Fort Douaumont, the German operation "May bowl" is a failure right from the start .

Saturday - 13 May The German army command call a staff meeting. It is concluded that both divisions of the IIId Army corps have enough strength left to make a minor attack possible. There is a delay however, as reinforcements have to arrive first, along with a stock of a new type of poisonous gas grenades. The attack of the right bank of the Meuse is therefore temporarily deferred. The attack is now solely concentrated on the left bank.

At this staff meeting the Crown Prince pleads in favour of entirely ceasing the attack of Verdun. Von Knobelsdorf, however, wants to pursue. The Crown Prince reacts: 'I will not give that order. When headquarters orders it, I must obey, but I will not be held responsible'. Ultimately on Wednesday 17 May Commander-in-chief Falkenhayn decides that the attack has to be transferred from the right to the left bank. Before this, however, the Thiaumont-fortification has to be taken because from that position everything at the German front is 'shot to pieces'. Furthermore, Fort Vaux has to be taken in one sweep.

The French counter attack of Fort Douaumont

Before the Germans begin their attack, they are surprised by the French, who start a counter attack of Fort Douaumont. Between Tuesday 16 May and Sunday 22 May the fort is under heavy gunfire. Large-bore weapons and poisonous gas grenades are used. On Monday 22 May two regiments commanded by General Mangin attack the fort. The French manage to occupy the top of the fort and even enter it in some places. The French artillery moves the frontline right up to the fort so that the Germans are cut off from reinforcements. The Germans do exactly the same behind the fort, so the French are equally cut off from reinforcements.

The German attack is so severe that of the 200 men in a French attacking company, only 40 manage to reach the fort. Two days of bitter fight ensue. At a certain point the French are outnumbered, as Germans reinforcements were able to reach their troops after all. The French are also using up their ammunition and when the Germans have a huge mine-thrower attack the fort, the battle is decided in a terrible hand-to-hand fight. Only a few French soldiers return to Verdun.

This French counter attack is commanded by General Mangin, who halfway through the battle announces to the world that the fort has fallen into the hands of the French a message that has to be recalled later. This rash attack has not been well prepared for. Mangin moved his entire regiments forward into a very narrow frontline and put all of his reserves into action as well. During an attack this causes a 500-metre gap in the French line, which weakens the front considerably. The French troops are clobbered. Over 1,000 French are imprisoned and not a single reserve company is left. Mangin is relieved of his duties by his superior Commander P tain. (Let op: Mangin supposedly offered to serve as a common soldier again.) The failed attack has a demoralising effect on the French troops several cases of insubordination are reported at the side of the French.

A neutral contemporary feels: …that they, within the framework of this World War, are involved in some affair, that will still be considered horrible and appalling in a hundred years time. It is this Hell of Verdun. Since a hundred days – day and night – the sons of two European people fight stubbornly and bitterly over every inch of land. It is the most appalling mass murder of our history…

The collapse of Fort Vaux

Thursday - 1 June
Following a lengthy bombing and with the use of a large number of flame-throwers, the Germans finally regain command of the Bois de la Caillette. The Bois Fumin, situated just behind the village of Vaux, is taken for the greater part as well, but at a high price.

A soldier: …One of the trenches is so filled with wounded and dead bodies the attackers have to use the parapet in order to be able to move forward…

The major gain of this particular conquest is that the German troops in front of Fort Vaux are no longer controlled by the flanking French fire from the Bois de la Caillette and the Bois Fumin. After this the German attack focuses on Fort Vaux. This is a medium sized fort generally accounting for a garrison of 250 men, but now accommodating some 600 men. The Commander is Major Sylvain Raynal. He suspects the big attack to take place soon: in the morning the fort is caught in a rain of grenades. Raynal counts 1,500 to 2,000 hits an hour.

Friday - 2 June The Germans are able to surround the fort almost completely. A few hallways are taken as well. The French men inside the fort stubbornly defend themselves and from the French frontline counter attacks are undertaken to regain control of the fort. The French artillery draws up a barrage that compels the German attackers to remain in cover.

Sunday - 4 June To smoke out the French German flame-throwers are used. This attempt fails as draught forces the smoke out of the fort and obstructs the attackers in their actions. The French again undertake a few counter attacks but are awaited by German reinforcements who force the attackers back in a man-to-man fight. The Germans are again hindered in their movement by the French bombardment.

Monday - 5 June Inch by inch the Germans force their way into the fort where the French, behind a barricade of sandbags, keep up a firm front. Major Raynal organises the defence in a heroic manner. His chief concern is the limited amount of drinking water available within the fort. The water tank contains less water than the gauge glass indicates. Therefore the rations of 1 litre a day per person are reduced to 1/8 litre. Wounded receive double this amount.

(Let op: The Germans are also suffering from a lack of drinking water. The month of June starts off with high temperatures and drinking water is scarce on the battlefield every drop has to be brought in from elsewhere. Another factor is that the explosives contain the chemical substance lydite, which produces heavy thirst as well. There are stories circulating of Germans on the battlefield of Verdun trading cigarettes with the French for bottles of drinking water.)

Commander Raynal sends carrier pigeons carrying messages begging for reinforcements. Sometimes a company manages to reach the fort. In one such a case only 26 men are left of the original 170. German attempts to blow up the fort fail due to French artillery fire from the nearby-situated Fort Souville.

Tuesday - 6 June The situation in the fort is terrible. The ambience is totally ruined by oil damp and dust it is pitch dark. Regularly panic attacks start when a gas attack is suspected. The men are going mad with thirst. They lick condense water of the walls and some drink their own urine. The stench is unbearable because the latrines are out of reach there are excreta in every corner. Finally, Raynal decides to surrender.

Wednesday - 7 June A white flag appears on top of the fort and a French orderly delivers Lieutenant Rackow, the German Commander, a letter. Major Raynal requests an honorary surrender of his garrison. This is granted and the garrison surrenders in a military correct fashion arms presented. The French are treated with respect: souvenirs are exchanged and photographs taken. The Crown Prince receives Raynal with full honour, expresses his admiration for the heroic opposition and presents Raynal with his own sword as a mark of honour.
(Let op: Raynal is, next to P tain and Driant, the most famous hero of Verdun. When Raynal died in 1939 he received a state funeral.)

Major Raynal after his capture together with his aide-de-camp
(left: Lieutenant Rackow, the German Commander)

Thursday - 8 June Immediately the French start their counter attacks to reconquer Fort Vaux. On the completely damaged grounds surrounding the fort severe man-to-man fights take place. The French artillery barrages the fort thus heavily after every attack, that the Germans have to withdraw into the fort.
The fights continue day and night. After ten attacks the battle is ceased and the French withdraw. The scene of battle is strewn with dead French soldiers. P tain is furious because of this useless attack and forbids Nivelle any further attempts to conquer Fort Vaux.

As soon as possible Fort Vaux is equipped as a German base of operations, complete with munitions depot and a first aid post. Provisioning is very difficult, as everything has to be hauled up by the men, while continuously under heavy attack by the French.

A witness : ….the latrines cause major problems. They are completely blocked up and smell terribly. This stench is fought with chlorinated lime and this smell mixes with the battlefield smell of decomposition. Men even wear their gas masks when using the latrines…

(Let op: During periods of battle the soldiers receive special bags in which they can relieve themselves without having to leave their post. Source: Werth, p. 257.)


THE RECAPTURE OF FORT DOUAUMONT II

The following is from an account by another soldier, simply identified as ‘M’:

At last the time has come, and we set off to conquer the enemy positions, which don’t offer any resistance, and the few men who are still alive come out of their holes crying, ‘KAMARAD!’

The artillery lengthen their range, one hundred metres by one hundred metres, so we continue to advance behind the wall of fire and in this way we arrive at the first line from there, after a short five-minute breathing space, we start off again for the assault on the second line, which is the goal indicated by the General of the Division.

There, as at the first line, the enemy don’t put up any resistance.

Arriving in the line, we begin to dig some small holes to allow us at the same time to keep out of sight of the enemy, and to take cover from his artillery. The day passes like this, at night everyone works and keeps watch at the same time, and we carry on like this right up to the evening of the 25th, without being disturbed by the enemy.

Weariness begins to make itself felt, the water-bottles are empty, and the water fatigue parties don’t arrive, but all the same we put up with it in the hope of being relieved next day in the evening.

Everything adds to our misery. At eight o’clock big drops of rain begin to fall, the earth gets slippery and fills our trench with mud on the other hand, this water, collected so preciously in our mugs set up on the parapet, this water will serve to moisten our parched lips, and in this way the night passes right up to dawn on the 26th.

At dawn the clouds begin to break and the sun appears at several points our planes take advantage of this in order to fly over the enemy lines the German pilot doesn’t stay inactive, and signals our new positions to his artillery. Besides this, towards 6 o’clock the shells from our guns of all calibres begin to fall around us.

At 2 o’clock, in spite of this terrible bombardment the losses are minimal, but at that very moment the missiles fall exactly in the trench to the left of my section someone tells me that there are already several victims, but there’s not even time to ask the names of his comrades before a large-calibre shell comes exploding in the midst of us.

I feel myself struck down, this time I realise that I’m seriously injured, a wound no doubt grave grips me as if in a vice in the abdomen, and I’m certain, too, that I’ve lost all use of my right arm.

Gathering my strength, I lift myself up and look around me my two corporals who were there have been struck down dead.

The horror of the spectacle gives me back more strength. And without caring about the consequences I drag myself painfully to the First-Aid Post. where the medical orderly immediately gives me the first attention which my condition requires.

At 5 o’clock the difficult transport of the wounded begins the work is hard for our stretcher-bearers who are carrying us away.

At last, here we are, arrived at the first halt, the battalion First-Aid Post there, I’m going to pass the night.

Early the next day, other stretcher-bearers come to take us and transport us to a second Aid-Post, and in this way from Aid-Post to Aid-Post we are transported right to Marceau Barracks.

From there we are transported in lorries, only a short distance at the end of ten minutes we’ve arrived at the field hospital at Dugny. Straight away they take me into the operating room the doctor encourages me by saying that I’ve had a bit of luck, that the wound in my abdomen, which he himself thought serious, is very light.

The same evening, I’m selected to be transported to the rear. I’m taken by lorry all the way to Souilly where I’m put on a hospital train, and from there I’m de-trained at Revigny, where I’m detailed for the English Hospital at Faux Miroir, where I am at the present time surrounded by the greatest care of the staff.

Both accounts have that closeness of vision of the fighting man caught up in the mêlée – the ants in the anthill. But the seizure of Douaumont could seem almost an experience on a mystic level for those not involved in the cut and thrust of action and thus able to understand the significance of what was taking place. Thus Lieutenant-Colonel Picard, rounding off his description of the fort’s seizure, was moved to write:

When victory, with her great luminous wings, touches the soul of a combatant, there is such an intoxication, so noble a pride that nothing, nothing, not even glorious death on the field of battle, could equal the happiness of living through such a time!

If the early phase of the battle had been observed by a distinguished British commentator in the person of H. Warner Allen, the later phase saw a visit by the well-known war correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, famous for his eye-witness reports from Gallipoli the previous year. Travelling with five other members of the British and American press, he reached the city on the day before the offensive against Douaumont. The party’s first visit was to the Citadel, where they were shown ‘every single detail of this wonderful underground fortress’ one detail which particularly impressed him was the fact that 30,000 loaves of bread were baked daily within the Citadel for its huge, constantly changing garrison. They were then entertained to a meal by the city’s military governor, General Dubois: ‘a really wonderful lunch beautifully cooked by a prize chef and washed down with some of the finest wines of France. This kind-hearted officer had actually sent all the way to Bar-le-Duc for luxuries such as cakes and pastry for which the town is famous.’ There followed a guided tour of the city streets, to be shown, again ‘in very great detail’, the steps which had been taken for the door-to-door defence of Verdun should such a contingency have arisen: ‘The scheme was to turn every single house – or rather cellar – in which the place abounds, into a separate fort, and each was to be defended à outrance.’

But the prime focus of their visit was the real fort they knew was about to be attacked and whose recapture would give them the story that would make their journey worthwhile. On the following afternoon, the 24th, having been taken to a suitable vantage-point at the Fort de la Chaume, on the left bank of the Meuse, they were able to observe, if from some distance, the actual moment of victory:

At about 3 p.m. the weather lifted somewhat and the sun made a brave effort to come out. Thus we were able to witness the final stages of the advance against Douaumont. One could watch the tremendous curtain of artillery fire creeping slowly up towards it. Suddenly some red rockets flashed skywards through the gloom. This was the prearranged signal that the fort had been re-won.

The event moved Ashmead-Bartlett to remarkable heights of eloquence:

Thus was accomplished the crowning moment of the war, perhaps of all history. The French army of Verdun – exhausted and useless, according to the enemy’s reports – retook in seven hours, without withdrawing a man or a gun from the Somme, practically the whole ground which the Crown Prince’s army was only able to gain and hold at a cost of roughly half a million of the best German troops, and by the expenditure of an unprecedented quantity of material and ammunition.

But the most memorable event of their tour was yet to come: a visit under escort to the actual fort, before the fighting was entirely over and while the area was still under fire from enemy guns. German signs were still in evidence in the galleries but it was now fully garrisoned by the French – in fact with Chasseurs like the doughty soldiers who all those months before had fought with the late Colonel Driant. Ashmead-Bartlett noted the long vaulted chambers radiating from the galleries used as barracks, each containing double rows of wooden bunks: ‘Inside you see hundreds of warriors off duty rolled in their blankets asleep.’ But what he was most eager to see were the signs of the recent successful attack:

Especially interesting was the spot in the upper galleries where 400mm shells had entered. Dawn was breaking and the pale light was shining through this arch cut out of the solid concrete by these heavy shells. Sentries stood guarding the aperture which was rapidly being put in a state of repair. You look out and beyond on to a sea of huge shell craters. There are no luxuries or comforts of any sort for the garrison, for it has only been possible to carry up the bare necessities of life and a reserve supply of ammunition. I made my way through all these long galleries, damp, cold and filthy and studied the heroic defenders. They are great fellows, these Chasseurs. They are cold and caked with mud and weary from the incessant labour of carrying up supplies, but ever determined and indomitable. They have got back the fort and will never give it up again.

Summing up his whole visit to the Verdun sector, Ashmead-Bartlett wrote, in terms that can only have been music to his French hosts:

The battlefield of Verdun has a different atmosphere from any other I was ever on. Its horrors are also greater. But withal there is a feeling of intense satisfaction. You recognise the completion of a great masterpiece. You feel, as you so seldom have the chance of feeling in this war, that something vital and decisive has been accomplished, and that the work can never be undone… It was at Verdun that the French people found themselves again, and emerged from the clouds which have hung over them for forty-five years.

When the French took back Douaumont fort they also reclaimed Douaumont village. The regiment that seized it had among its members the soldier-priest Pierre Tailhard de Chardin, though his battalion was in reserve for the actual attack. ‘The colonial troops of my brigade captured the strong-point.’ he wrote to his cousin a few days later. ‘You see that we had our share of the glory, and that almost without loss, at least during the attack itself.’ The next morning, at dawn, they moved forward to a position on the ground gained: ‘I must say that that was not the best moment. I spent a most unpleasant day with my C.O. in a shell-hole just by Thiaumont farm, under a long-drawn-out continual bombardment that seemed to want to kill us off piecemeal. Such hours are the other side of the glory of attack.’

He attempted to describe his impressions, acknowledging ‘a sort of depression and inertia, partly due to the not very active part played by my unit. Fortunately this lack of activity, this lack of “go”, were put right by the stimulus of having plenty to do. All the same I didn’t feel that my spirit was really heroic.’ So much for himself, but contemplating the surroundings and the circumstances produced a strangely exhilarating response, though the awareness of the underlying tragedy of it all was never far off:

From a more speculative, almost ‘dilettante’ angle, I profoundly enjoyed, in short bursts, the picturesque side of the country and the situation. If you forget that you have a body to drag over the mud like a snail, the Douaumont area is a fascinating sight. Imagine a vast expanse of grim, naked hillsides, wild as a desert, more churned up than a ploughed field. All this we recaptured. I saw again the places where, in August, I huddled in holes that I can still distinguish – and in which my friends fell. Now one can make one’s way over them without fear: the crest above, and two kilometres beyond it too, are now held by us. Hardly any traces of the Boche can be seen – except round certain shelters, some appalling sights that one looks at without turning a hair: everything has been buried by the shells. To get back to the rear for rations you have (until some communication trenches have been contrived) to make your way for three-quarters of a kilometre across this chaos of enormous shell-holes and treacherous patches of mud, following a few makeshift tracks…

A few concrete pillboxes were still standing, marking the painful route. You can’t imagine how odd it was to see these shelters lost in the chaos of the battlefield, particularly at night. Just as in the inns along a main road or the mountaineers’ huts among the glaciers, a whole motley population of wounded, stragglers, somnambulists of all sorts, piled in, in the hope of getting a few moments’ sleep – until some unavoidable duty or the angry voice of an officer made a little room – soon to be occupied again by some new figure, dripping, wet and apprehensive, emerging from the black night…

All these horrors, I should add, are to me no more than the memory of a dream. I think that you live so immersed in the immediate effort of the moment that little of them penetrates to your consciousness or memory. And on top of that the lack of proportion between existence on the battlefield and life in peacetime (or at any rate in rest billets) is such that the former, looked back on from the latter, is never anything but a fantasy and dream.

And yet the dead – they’ll never wake from that dream. My battalion had relatively few casualties. Others, on our flank, were more unlucky. The little White Father who went to see you at the Institute last February, was killed. Pray for him. Now once more I’m the only priest in the regiment.

The Douaumont battle produced its huge crop of fatalities and, inevitably, its greater number of wounded. Among the staff at the British Urgency Cases Hospital at Revigny coping with its influx of casualties was a senior colleague of Nurse Winifred Kenyon, Sister S.M. Edwards. She wrote a description of her experiences at this time which would eventually appear in the Faux Miroir house magazine under the title ‘Thoughts of a Night Sister’. Her account, which shows how many and varied and from what different backgrounds were the patients who came under the hospital’s care, is perhaps all the more effective for being written in the third person, almost as though it were a scene from a novel. But though she wrote with style, she wrote with much compassion:

The Surgeon has done his last round, and with a cheery ‘Goodnight,’ is gone. Sister stands at the door of the ward till his footsteps have died away. One by one the lights of the château, gleaming through the trees, go out and, save only for the glimmer of light from the huts and the shining stars above, the place is wrapped in darkness. With a shiver, for the nights are cold, she turns and enters the ward. She passes from bed to bed, giving a drink here, smoothing a tossed pillow there, tucking up as she would a child some brave fellow who has just come through the horrors of those hideous slopes on which for nine months the battle of Verdun has raged. All then being quiet, she sits by the little iron stove, trying to keep warm this bitter winter night, and as she sits she listens, and she thinks.

She hears the muttered, half-broken sentences of the men as they toss and turn in their restless sleep, and she thinks of the sons of France lying there suffering ‘pour la Patrie’. She thinks of No. 20, from far-off Brittany, his face rugged like the rugged rocks of the coast on which he has weathered many a storm. Now he has weathered his last and most terrible storm, the storm of battle. She thinks of No. 12, who has come from the heights of Savoy. Frightfully crippled he lies there, for the deadly gas gangrene has done its fearful work, and never again will he climb his beautiful mountains. He stands on the threshold of life only. ‘Oh! C’est triste la guerre’ – that is all they say, these men: ‘It is so sad, this war.’ A wonderful spirit, this spirit of France. Yes, it is many of her men who are gathered here for here are men from the fields of Normandy from the sunny skies and orange groves of the Côte d’Azur from the vine-clad slopes of the Pyrenees and from farther still have they come for there lies Abdallah from far-away Tunis, and Bamboula from still farther Senegal. Again she listens, and she thinks.

She hears the cannon booming. How near it sounds in the stillness of the night. How it makes the hut rattle and shake. She thinks of the terrible destruction that is being wrought by the hand of man on God’s beautiful earth. She thinks of the men who, away in the firing line, where terror and desolation reign, are veritably passing through hell. And she asks the unanswerable question, Why should such things be?…

She hears the rumble of heavily laden trains, as they pass without ceasing up to the front with their load of men and ammunition, to be hurled against the might of Germany. And she thinks of the indomitable heroism and endurance which have withstood that might all these long months, and her heart is filled with gratitude and admiration. Again she listens, and she thinks.

The wind is rising, and she hears it sighing in the pines, and it is as if it were the Voix de Morts – the voices of the dead – pleading for their sacrifice not to be forgotten, and she thinks of those brave men who have passed through those pines to their last resting-place. She thinks of the little wooden crosses she sees everywhere in this sad corner of France – in the fields, in the woods, in the gardens – and she asks, ‘Is it in vain they have died?’

‘Ma Soeur, ma Soeur!’ ‘Sister, sister!’ Sister is roused from her reverie. It is No. 8 – Bébé he is called, because of his curly hair and youthful spirit. He has been dreaming. He had lost his regiment and was struggling to find it again. A reassuring word, a ‘Quelque chose à boire’ – ‘something to drink’ and he is soothed to sleep once more.

The long night has passed. They are all awake now, and how bright and jolly they are. ‘Bonjour, ma Soeur, bonjour,’ resounds from all sides, and ‘Bonjour, tout le monde,’ replies Sister as she hurries round, getting them ready for their breakfast. Brave, cheerful fellows. It is the lasting memory of the ‘blessés’, with their child-like simplicity, their good humour and their patient endurance, that Sister will carry back to England with her from a hospital ‘somewhere in France’.


Kyk die video: The French Charge At Fort Douaumont! Verdun