11/7/1916 Verdun: Knobelsdorf’s last throw of the dice

The Somme and the Brusilov Offensive mean that Falkenhayn is having to divert German reserves to meet these urgent threats. That should mean the end of attempts to seize Verdun from the French. Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the nominal German commander at Verdun, would be happy to close the curtain on the offensive. But Knobelsdorf, his chief of staff, sees things differently. He orders one last push to bring the battle to a victorious conclusion.

Yesterday German artillery began to blast the French with a terrible new intensity, hitting them with high explosive and the Green Cross gas (phosgene) that proved so effective in late June. Today the assault troops move forward on a narrow front, with their target Fort Souville. If it is captured then the Germans will have breached the last French defences before Verdun itself.

The Green Cross gas proves less effective than previously: the French have new respirators that protect them against phosgene. The attacking Germans take heavier casualties than they expected, but they nevertheless succeed in punching a hole in the French line. French units are close to breaking point and the Germans take a large bag of prisoners. They prepare to renew the assault in the morning, striking towards Fort Souville and final victory.

image sources:

Konstantin Schmidt von Knobelsdorf (Wikipedia)

German assault (Trenches on the Web)

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