Verdun - Scene of Bitter WWI Battle

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June 22nd 2013
Published: August 29th 2017
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A Supply Trench To the Front LinesA Supply Trench To the Front LinesA Supply Trench To the Front Lines

It would have had concrete sides and roof, but only the stakes and the ditch remain.
Geo: 49.159, 5.384

After leaving Metz, we headed for Paris, stopping off to visit Verdun, the scene of the First World War Battle of Verdun between France and Germany. This battle is considered the greatest and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a lengthy battle, involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land. The battle, which lasted from 21 February 1916 until 19 December 1916 caused over an estimated 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battlefield was not even a square ten kilometres. The battle degenerated into a matter of prestige of two nations literally for the sake of fighting.

We visited a First World War Museum in the middle of the former battlefields. Most of the ground in the area is unchanged from First World War times apart from trees and grass. The ground resembles a moonscape, pockmarked with bomb craters. It mush have been hell on earth for the young soldiers who volunteered for an adventure holiday in Europe. The museum is full of historical First World War items, including planes, guns, cannons, personal war memorabilia etc.

We then visited Fort Douaumont, a French First World War underground fort which
German First WWI Plane German First WWI Plane German First WWI Plane

probably similar to that flown by the Red Baron.
was bitterly fought over. The fort was built on several levels and we were able to walk through many of the rooms and tunnels with an English IPod Commentary.

We then visited the French National Cemetery at Douamont. Thirteen thousand crosses adorn the field, which holds roughly 130,000 unidentified remains of French soldiers. A sobering place.

We left Verdun and drove to Reims to see Reims Notre Dame Cathedral, which was impressive.

After viewing the cathedral, we continued driving to Paris.

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