Introduction - Battle of VerdunThe Battle of Verdun was the longest battle of World War One. This great battle which started on the 21st of February in 1916 lasted until December 16th, 1916. Where history has seen long battles with great loss of life nothing compares to this battle. Read on for a kid-friendly summary of this battle. In the list of facts below you will find out why it was one of the worst battles in history, who won the battle, and what the significance of the battle was.
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Battle of Verdun Basic Facts
- This battle, which started as a German offense, took place on the wars Western Front between the German Army and the French army.
- When the Battle of Verdun started on February 21st of 1916 the Germans had 140,000 soldiers near Verdun as opposed to the French who only had 30,000.
- The battle took place north of the town of Verdun-sur-Meuse in northern France.
- Over the nearly 11 months of this battle there were an estimated 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The Germans lost around 340,000 and the French approximately 360,000. It should be noted that some recent estimates list the casualties as much higher.
Battle of Verdun Interesting Facts
- The attack was ordered by German Chief of General Staff, Von Falkenhayn. The area around Verdun was historically important to the people of France; several forts there had historically protected France's border. Von Falkenhayn believed the French would do all they could to defend the area and would be baited into launching un- wise counter attacks against the well-entrenched German lines. He believed these counter attacks would result in huge losses to the French Army from which they could not recover.
- On February 21st 1916 The Germans started the battle with a huge artillery bombardment. Over 1,000 German artillery pieces opened fire on a six mile stretch of the French line. The impact was devastating killing thousands of French soldiers.
- The early losses, to both sides, at this battle were incredible. By the begging of May 1916 German casualties were approximately 120,000 whereas the French had around 133,000 casualties.
- The British began the Battle of the Somme in July of 1916 in order to divert German resources away from Verdun in an attempt to assist the French who were experiencing huge losses.
- French Army General Philippe Petain became a hero to the French people due to his defense of Verdun.
- With over 160 airplanes in the vicinity of Verdun the Germans dominated the air over the battle. This amount of planes had never before been seen at any battle in history up to that point.
- Lucky French soldiers, who were fortunate enough to get a leave, would often venture to Paris which was just about 150 miles from Verdun. This was quite a strange experience for them. They left the battlefield, which was hell on earth, and found themselves in a place with abundant food and drink where people were having a good time.
- By December of 1916 the French and their allies had won the Battle of Verdun. They had recaptured most of the forts around the town taken by the Germans; it is at this point the Germans stopped their attacks.
- There was no real significance to the battle. The area around Verdun was never strategically important and the Germans plan to draw the French into counter attacks that would wipe out their army failed and resulted in terrible losses on both sides.