8/6/1916 Verdun: the French at breaking point

Outside Verdun the Germans have captured Fort Vaux after a short siege. Now they press on in an attempt to exploit their victory. But the French are unaware that Fort Vaux has fallen. A relief force is preparing another attempt to raise the siege. The two forces collide. The result is carnage, in most areas leading to both sides returning to cover as the enemy’s artillery shells rain down. But Moroccan troops, their numbers greatly depleted by the German guns, press on to attempt the relief of For Vaux. It is only when they are cut to pieces by the fort’s machine guns that they realise that it has fallen to the enemy.

The carnage of the last few days of fighting is exacting a heavy toll on French morale. There have been disturbing incidents: an entire battalion surrendering without a fight, units breaking and running back to Verdun rather than face the Germans. Nivelle is outraged, ordering his officers to adopt the harshest measures to ensure military discipline remains in force. No more ground is to be yielded, no matter what the cost.

image source (De Eerste Wereldoorlog 1914 – 1918)

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