6/3/1916 Verdun: the Germans widen the battlefront

At Verdun the Germans initially attacked only on the east bank of the Meuse. As the battle progressed, French artillery on the west bank was able to enfilade the Germans. Now the Germans open a new phase of the battle with an attack on the west bank, to further stretch the French defences and deal with these French guns.

The French have been expecting an attack here and have made preparations to repel it. However, when the customary German artillery bombardment begins the frontline troops are stunned by its intensity. The Germans pull off a remarkable coup, outflanking the French by mounting an amphibious assault across the Meuse. Fortune appears to be smiling on the Germans as many French artillery shells fail to explode in the swampy ground.
The German target is a piece of elevated ground with the inviting name of le Mort Homme. Men advancing from the north link up with the ones who crossed the river and begin to inch closer to the outcrop. The frontal advance however stalls. The ground here is flatter than on the east bank and far less wooded. German infiltration tactics are less effective and the French find it easier to hold back the German infantry. Both sides rain down artillery shells on each other.

The Germans are also attacking on the east bank, where the target is Fort Vaux. To approach this the Germans must first take the village of Vaux, but the French put up a stout resistance. The Germans make little progress. As on the west bank, much of the killing on both sides is done by artillery, with many men dying without ever seeing an enemy soldier.

images both form Les Français à Verdun

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