Verdun was the pre-eminent defensive battle of the Great War – and perhaps of all time. The historic town on the River Meuse, which the French held against furious German assaults for ten bloody months in 1916 – was surrounded by two rings of interconnected forts, ranging from the enormous Fort Douaumont to tiny casemates. But during the first two years of the war, the fighting passed Verdun by, and the forts were stripped of much of their armament. As a result, when the Germans launched their devastating offensive in February 1916, the carefully constructed defences collapsed, and Douaumont and other forts fell. Neil J. Wells has written an enormously detailed and fascinating study of the integrated defences of Verdun that explains the character of the atrocious battle. He traces the planning of the town’s defences in the 1870s – the decade following France’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. He then describes the building of the Forts in the 1880s; and the modifications made in the decade leading up to the outbreak of war in 1914. Wells’ book – an original publication of the Naval & Military Press – is illustrated by many black and whit photographs, and detailed diagrams of the forts and their ordnance, along with maps showing their location. It is an indispensable work for anyone interested in the Great War, and in 19th and 20th century military technology – especially the defensive mentality that continued to dominate French strategic thinking up to the Maginot Line and beyond.
VERDUN: AN INTEGRATED DEFENCE An Outline of the French Fortifications of the Great War based on a Detailed Review of the Defences of Verdun
More than any other Great War struggle, the bloody battle of Verdun pitched late 19th century defensive technology – forts and tunnels – against 20th century firepower. This is the most detailed study of the Verdun defences to appear in English. A fully illustrated Naval & Military Press original that no Great War buff will want to be without.