German infantrymen advancing during the attack

The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles of World War One. The battle was fought by German and French forces, from February 21, 1916 to December 18, 1916 on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France.[1]

Objectives and PreparationsEdit

The main objective of the Battle of Verdun, at least in the German point of view was to protect vital communications lines and to crush a bulge in the front line that threatened German interests.[2] Commanding the German force would by General Erich von Falkenhayn.


The battle had started when a million Germans, led by Crown Prince Wilhelm, attacked Verdun. Verdun was defended by 200,000 French soldiers. Into the second day of battle the French soldiers were forced to pull back to their second line, by 24th February the French had moved back to the third line and were only 8km from Verdun.
Battle of Verdun 9

Pictured here, a French infantryman is shot as he is charging towards the German trenches

The same day, General Henri Philippe Petain, was the commander in Verdun, he gave orders no more withdrawls would take place. 330 French regiments were in the French army, eventually 259 regiments fought on the Western Front. The German advance was brought to a halt at the end of February. On the 6th March, the German Fifth Army launched a new attack at Verdun. The Germans advanced 3km before they were stopped in front of the area around Mort Homme Hill. The French held this strategic point until it was finally secured by the Germans on 29th May, and Fort Vaux fell on 7th June, after a long siege. Further attacks continued throughout the summer and early autumn. However, the scale of the German attacks were reduced by the need to transfer troops to defend their front-line at the Somme. The French now counter-attacked and General Charles Mangin became a national hero when the forts at Douaumont and Vaux were recaptured by 2nd November, 1916. Over the next six weeks the French infantry gained another 2km at Verdun.