The battle of Verdun was a seminal moment for the French Army. The German High Command intended to bleed the French Army by forcing it to defend Verdun, the loss of which would have been humiliating for the French. Given that the French had been fortifying the area for over 35 years the Germans were not going to have an easy victory.
- Ian Sumner
By 1914 there were over forty main forts, a 24“ railway and steel turreted artillery casemates.
In a less than inspired moment the French military withdrew 237 artillery mobile pieces,647 tons of ammunition and some troops, Command links were also altered.
The German General Von Falkenhayn presumably saw this as an opportunity to achieve a fast break in. The attack on Fort Douaumont was a walk in with the garrison reduced to 56 reservist gunners who took shelter until captured by a German pioneer Sergeant.
This was probably the easy bit , the remaining action dragged on sucking in troops from both armies. Neither protagonist wanted to be the first to call a halt.
In the event the Germans probably lost about 340,000 men to the French 360,000.A perfect demonstration of attritional warfare at work.
Ian Sumner has assembled just over 100 pages of high quality contemporary photographs with some brief general notes. Pen and Sword have done their usual top quality print and bind. The book is priced at £14.99 in paperback,
The one omission is an index which makes the work difficult to use for additional reference , perhaps this will be addressed in the next edition.