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Interactive Timeline of the First World War
The Battle of Verdun - The First World War - February 1916
The Battle of Verdun was the longest battle of the First World War. Verdun was a French stronghold, consisting of a number of fortresses and a series of well prepared trenches. The attack by the Germans, beginning on 21st February, was planned by the Field Commander Faulkenhayn.
Faulkenhayn concluded that a large assault on Verdun would not necessarily lead to a break through the French lines and a major victory: but it would drain the French army of all of it's spare resources and enable other assaults to be much more successful. Any successes would also prove to be a major psychological victory as well as the forts at Verdun were renowned throughout France.
The initial assault by the Germans was extremely successful, the French having to withdraw from both the first and second line trenches within two days, having been overwhelmed by the million strong German attack. The fortunes of the French changed with the appointment of General Petain. He insisted that there would be no more retreats and moved additional troops into the Verdun region (over the course of the battle over three quarters of all French units participated in the Battle of Verdun in some capacity).
German assaults continued throughout the spring and summer, only to find themselves having to divert troops elsewhere as a result of the British assault at the Somme.
Estimates suggest that there were in the region of 1 million casualties at Verdun, with approximately half of these being fatalities.
Other battles of the Western Front can be found here.
Other Schoolshistory.org.uk resources about the First World War
An overview of the First World War - Poetry of the First World War - Teachers resources relating to the First World War - Online Lessons about the First World War - Recommended websites - Interactive Timeline of the First World War