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Verdun


21 February – 18 December 1916

WW1 - Battle of Verdun

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.

The Facts


  • Date: 21 February – 18 December 1916
  • Location: Verdun, France
Countries Involved
French Republic German Empire
Countries Commanders
Joseph Joffre
Noël de Castelnau
Fernand de Langle de Cary
Frédéric-Georges Herr
Philippe Pétain
Robert Nivelle
Adolphe Guillaumat
Auguste Hirschauer
Charles Mangin
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.

French Trench - Verdun

French Trench - Verdun

French train horses on the way to Verdun

French train horses on the way to Verdun

French Filloux mortar firing

French Filloux mortar firing

Learn more about this battle on the following Leger Battlefield tour