4/6/1916 Verdun: Fort Vaux attacked by flamethrowers & running out of water

The siege of Fort Vaux continues. Now the Germans bring up flamethrowers to smoke out the French defenders. Through apertures and cracks the Germans pour smoke and flame into the fort’s interior. Then the flamethrowers cease and the Germans attempt to rush the main corridor into the fort. Unfortunately for them, a Frenchman beats them to a machine gun and cuts the attackers to pieces, though he is himself wounded several times.

At another entrance to the fort the French have a stroke of luck, managing to capture one of the flamethrowers. They turn this on their attackers. But the situation is still desperate, with increasing numbers of Frenchmen wounded, including the flamethrowers’ victims.

Major Raynal sends Fort Vaux’s last carrier pigeon with a message saying that his men are holding on but relief is imperative. The pigeon is suffering from the German smoke but it carries its message to the French lines, whereupon it dies. There are reports that it is posthumously awarded the Légion d’Honneur.

Meanwhile in Fort Vaux the French discover that their situation is worse than they thought. The water gauges are faulty and now the cistern is revealed to be nearly empty. There is no more water.

image sources:

The Pigeon Vaillant (HistoQuiz)

Monument to the last pigeon of Fort Vaux (European Trip Notes)

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