BATTLE OF VERDUN IN WORLD WAR I
The Battle of Verdun in World War I was one of the most important battles of the entire war along the Western Front. The Western Front was the line of fighting that occurred along the trenches that stretched throughout Belgium and northern France. The Battle of Verdun was one of the largest battles of the entire war, and was the longest at 9 months, 3 weeks and 6 days. It involved intense and brutal fighting between the French Army and the German Army throughout most of 1916. Today it is remembered as the longest battle of World War I, and one of the deadliest.
Likely, the most significant French battle from World War I was the Battle of Verdun. It was fought from the 21st of February to the 18th of December in 1916 and is remembered as one of the largest battles of World War I on the Western Front. It was fought between France and Germany in a hilly region of northeastern France near the city of Verdun. The Germans had hoped to capture the region and use the hills of the area as a staging ground for their artillery guns. From the top of the hills, Germany hoped to use their artillery fire to control the entire region, including the city of Verdun.
The region around Verdun had many different forts that France had defended to different degrees. The German plan, which was created by German Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn, was to invade the region and begin to capture some of these French forts. This, Germany believed, would draw France into a major battle in the area and bog down the French forces in trying to defend their forts. Next, the German plan called for them to use their artillery power to bombard the French forces and overwhelm the French defenses in the region so that German soldiers could push through and capture the region and the city of Verdun. The French defense in the region was overseen by French General Philippe Pétain, who was seen as a war hero for his role in the Battle of Verdun.
The German assault began on February 21st and involved the German artillery launching artillery shells into the region followed by a German offensive of infantry soldiers. The German soldiers were able to capture several of the forts around Verdun, as the French defenses were weak and unable to stop the German assault. However, French troops began on strengthening the French defenses in and around Verdun and soon the French brought re-enforcements into the region to help defend. Despite coming within 2 miles of the city of Verdun, the German forces were never able to capture the city during the World War I battle. In July of 1916, the Battle of the Somme also began, which caused Germany to divert troops from Verdun to the Somme. This weakened the German offensive at Verdun to primarily an artillery attack and better allowed the French the ability to defend and even recapture many of the forts that they had earlier lost. By the end of the battle, France was able to push the Germans back and Germany had failed to achieve its goal in the region. As such, historians consider the Battle of Verdun to be a French victory.
The Battle of Verdun is remembered today as the longest single battle in human history. The battle lasted 302 days and caused devastating casualties for both the French and the Germans. The total casualties in the Battle of Verdun were terrible. For instance, historians estimate that France suffered as many as 400,000 casualties and 163,000 deaths. As well, it is estimated that Germany suffered as many as 350,000 casualties and 143,000 deaths.
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