The Battle Of Verdun, 21st Feb to 18th Dec, 1916

The longest single battle of World War One.




“Men were squashed. Cut in two or divided from top to bottom. Blown into showers; bellies turned inside out; skulls forced into the chest as if by a blow from a club.”






“You eat beside the dead; you drink beside the dead, you relieve yourself beside the dead and you sleep beside the dead.”







“People will read that the front line was Hell. How can people begin to know what that one word – Hell – means.”



“When they came out of the battle, what a pitiful sight they were. Their expressions seemed frozen by a wisdom of terror; they sagged beneath the weight of horrifying memories.”



“Hell cannot be so terrible as this. Humanity is mad; it must be mad to do what it is doing.” 



“An artery of French blood was spilt on February 21st and it flows incessantly in large spurts.”


“I saw a man drinking avidly from a green scum-covered marsh, where lay, his black face downward in the water, a dead man lying on his stomach and swollen as if he had not        stopped filling himself with water for days.”


“To die from a bullet seems to be nothing; parts of our being remain intact; but to be dismembered, torn to pieces, reduced to pulp, this is the fear that flesh cannot support        and which is fundamentally the great suffering of the bombardment.”

Anonymous French soldiers

15 thoughts on “The Battle Of Verdun, 21st Feb to 18th Dec, 1916

  1. It is grotesque and yet what is also tragic is that nothing changes. The war to end all wars changed nothing and beggars the question, what did it achieve?


  2. Chrissie, you right the sheer numbers of people killed in this war in difficult to get your head around. I have visited a number of WW1 battlefield and cemeteries and is very moving.

    We visited Verdun a number of years ago when my boys were young. I think our youngest was only 4 at the time. He shouted out that he didn’t like Germans as a coach load of German senior citizens turn up. I had to take to one side and tell him that the war has been over for a long time and we are are friends now!


  3. Those quotes are just heartbreaking and terrifying in equal measure. All war is senseless but WW1 just seems an order magnitude worse.
    My son is off to Belgium next week on school history trip to see some of the battlefields and memorials


    1. We’ve noticed a number of school groups at battle sites, whilst we’ve been wandering around over the last few years. It’s good to see really, these things should be kept in everyone’s minds.


  4. My mother and I are planning on a trip to Belgium & France next year in one of our VW campervans (she has one too! We just have to try and pick the most reliable!)
    First stop is Ypres to find a relative listed on the Menin Gate, and try to find the area he purportedly fell, and then we aim to travel back along the western front and visit other WWI sites. I hope we can get down as far as Verdun.
    I fear it would be inappropriate to say that I’m loving your blog posts on WW sites, but I hope you know what I mean.


    1. Geoff and Tilly have a done a couple of ‘battle’ trips on their own in the last couple of years. They went to Ypres and listened to the last post at the Menin Gate, and went out hunting a battlefield that Geoff’s granddad had fought on. They also did a WWII trip as well, and went to look at the Normandy beaches and other places down in that area.

      Geoff had articles about both these trips published in Practical Motorhome magazine, which he writes for from time to time.

      And I do appreciate that you’ve found the war posts interesting 🙂


  5. I’ve been up that tower! 😀 In my hillwalking heyday of course. 😆

    It felt great almost bouncing up those stairs while the rest of the world wheezed. Ah…those were the days (sigh).

    It was an incredible place…so difficult to get your head round the scale of the slaughter. 😀

    My grandpa was at the Somme…a bombadier. All I remember him (or maybe it was my mother) mentioning were the horses, and that he was only alive because his horses were the fastest. Until you walk those fields with their shell craters still intact and all those white crosses there is no way you can get your head around what happened there. Even then, the peaceful woodland terrain takes away from how hellish it must have been.


    1. Hi, Ken – didn’t realise you could go up that tower! It was at the very end of the day though by the time we got there and we were starting to get a bit overwhelmed by it all.

      The scale of the sheer numbers is impossible to comprehend, isn’t it?

      Geoff’s Grandad was over there with horses, in the Battle of Aubers Ridge. Geoff and Tilly did a special trip on their own last year, to go and look at where it took place.


      1. It’s a very humbling place. 😦 . We didn’t see all the stuff in your report but we’ve always talked about going back. I’ll look through my photos to see if there’s enough for a blog post (our visit was a couple of years before the hillwalking began and before I began to take lots of photos). We also did a bit further north on the V2 sites of WW2 – again fascinating…in a macabre sort of way.


        1. Geoff and Tilly did another trip on their own a couple of years back, to the Normandy WWII sites. Unfortunately, being not yet retired, I don’t always get to accompany them on their travels……….


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