10/12/1916 Verdun: this way to the slaughterhouse

The Somme has come to an end but the Battle of Verdun continues. The Germans are on the back foot now, with the French working to recover the ground lost since the battle’s start in February. But the fighting is not plain sailing for the French, who are suffering mounting casualties. This is taking its toll on the morale of the men.

There are some worrying incidents. On the road into Verdun, a sign is posted saying “Chemin de l’Abattoir“: this way to the slaughterhouse. While visiting Verdun, President Poincaré has stones thrown at his car. And an entire division of troops, moving up for the final push, takes to bleating like sheep on their way to be butchered.

And yet the French troops keep on fighting. At home the wider French public is unaware that the soldiers’ morale is fraying. Fed on a continuous account of positions recaptured from the enemy, they are aware only of the army’s heroic efforts at Verdun, under the glorious leadership of Nivelle, the local commander.

image source:

The road to Verdun (1914-1918 la 1ere guerre mondiale, l’effroyable hécatombe)

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