27/2/1916 Verdun: the German advance stalls

At Verdun the Germans are continuing to attack the French. A few days ago it seemed as though victory was in their grasp but now their progress is stalling. Pétain, the new French commander, has breathed new life into the defence, even as he is lying in his sick bed wracked with pneumonia. Reinforcements have stiffened the French defence. Britain’s Haig has reluctantly agreed to take over some of the French line elsewhere, so more French troops will be available for Verdun soon.

The balance of artillery has also moved in the favour of the French. As the Germans advance, they are coming under evermore enfilading artillery fire from French batteries on the west bank of the Meuse. Falkenhayn had declined to attack here at the start of the campaign, as he wanted to maintain a reserve force in case of Allied counter-attacks elsewhere. The earlier advances of the German troops now mean they have begun to out-run their own artillery, which must be brought forward over the devastated ground of the battlefield before it can begin to batter the French again.

The German troops are also exhausted after the heavy fighting of the last week. They have paid a heavy cost in casualties for the successes of the battle and find it increasingly difficult to fight on against the reinvigorated French.

So today, despite the Germans’ best efforts, their attacks make no progress. Victory seems to be slipping away.

image source:

German soldiers (WW1HA)

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