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    21 February 1916 - Verdun

    Paul H1

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    On 21 February 1916 the German 5th Army started its offensive at Verdun. The attack had originally been scheduled to start on 12 February, but had been delayed due to bad weather.

    The initial bombardment lasted nine hours, concentrating on the French front lines, Verdun, various forts in the fortress system, and the communications routes leading to Verdun and the French IInd Army.

    The German infantry left their trenches late in the day, 1700, and the nature of the actions varied with each of the German assault Corps. On the right flank, the VII. R.K launched a general attack, in waves, and captured large portions of the French first and second lines. Its neighbor to the left, the XVIII. A.K., launched only officer's patrols, and less than 100 men left the trenches on the entire corps front. Meeting resistance in the French second line they had returned to their own trenchs by the morning of 22 February. On the left flank, III. A.K. also launched probes, and meeting resistance stopped.

    The objective for the first day's attack had been the seizure of the first French trench, and observation of the artillery effects on the French second line. When VII. R.K. reported its initial successes, 5th Army had ordered the other two Corps to "Take everything you can." The order, coming so late in the day, could not be followed.


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    Ooooops... we missed the 21st!

    Is there any reason WHY the different Korps seemingly made up their own objectives? One would have thought these had carefully been thought out.




    Perhaps better said they approached their goals in a different fashion. The orders were to seize the first line only, or if meeting resisitance in the first line return to the jumping off points.

    The commander of VII. RK realized he had about 1500 meters of open ground to cover, and I don't think he relished crossing it on the second morning, so he decided to take all his men across and not lose the element of surprise. The other two corps commanders followed the orders more to the letter. The goals were set out, and guidance given, but as was often times found in the German Army the corps commander had a lot of freedom to accomplish his task. More of a "I want you to take this, but you figure out how," attitude.


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    The Battle pages for the 21st seem to overlap the 22nd....

    21st -22nd Feb Gefechte Bei Haumont VII. R.K.

    21st -22nd Feb Erst?rmung des Bois de Ville 5. I.D.

    21st -23rd Feb Erst?rmung des Herbebois 6. I.D.

    21 German probes in the bois d?Haumont and bois des Caures

    22 Start of the German offensive on the East bank of the Maas, fall of the village of Haumont and the forests of Caures, Brabant and bois de Ville

    The Hessen Infanterie Leib Regiment 117 fought in the Caureswald on the 22nd. The awards to two of the wounded with an account can be found below


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    22nd Feb Erst?rmung des Caures Waldes XVIII. A.K.

    One should here, I believe make mention of the courageous defenders namely the 56. and BCP (Chasseurs a Pied) of about 1300 men under the command of Lt.Col. Emile Driant. They really put up a stout defense against superior forces.

    One survivor later active in the resistance (Caporal Hutin) was deported and executed in 1944.

    Source: William Martin, Verdun 1916. Osprey.

    Bernhard H. Holst

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