21 February – 18 December 1916
Verdun was the first of the great industrial battles of the First World War where industrial might and capacity enabled the fighting to reach unparalleled levels.
|French Republic||German Empire|
Noël de Castelnau
Fernand de Langle de Cary
|Erich von Falkenhayn
Crown Prince Wilhelm
Schmidt von Knobelsdorf
Ewald von Lochow
Max von Gallwitz
Georg von der Marwitz
|Number of Casualties|
|Between 300,000-550,000||Between 280,000-440,000|
Battle result: French Republic Victory
In the opening bombardment alone more than 2 ½ million shells fell in 9 hours. Guns of up to 42cm were used to smash the French forts like Douaumont and Vaux. By the end of the battle something like a thousand shells had fallen for every square metre of battlefield: a staggering statistic.
For the French soldiers, the Poilus – literally translated that means ‘the bearded ones’ – it was an horrifc experience as regiment after regiment was thrown into the battle with the French nation’s Victory cry: They Shall Not Pass. The Poilus called Verdun the mincing-machine, the mill on the Meuse, the meat-grinder. It changed France forever, and even a century later Verdun still dominates the French consciousness of that conflict.