Verdun, 1924


#1

Verdun. 1924 battlefield guided tour ticket and some photos. Is any of this still standing?












#2

I can not say for Verdun city (or better I do not remember) but Ft. Douaumont and the Bajonet Trench were still the same in 2008 - just a little more vegetation. The countryside is still full of shell craters - just as in 1918. Just the fields which are in agricultural use are “flat”.


#3

The buildings along the river are still there at Verdun. Repaired of course but the same style. Most are now restaurants with tables and chairs outside and fancy prices.
I sat there at one of those tables and watched the fireworks on Bastille Day (14th July) 1994 with my (late) father and our friend Jim Taylor from Nebraska, who died last year.

The whole of the battlefield is a National Park and everything is preserved, ruined villages, forts, the lot. The only thing that is different is that the whole area is covered in pine trees that were planted deliberatly in the years after the war to stop the soil erroding. So the whole place is now thick forest.

The Verdun battlefield borders the Argonne where US troops were in action in 1918. The photos you have which were taken in 1924 were almost certainly from a family visit to the grave of a relative.


#4

I can imagine that back in 1924 the term “watch your step” must have been a very relevant and legitimate sort of thing for the tour guide to say to the tourists while touring the battlefield.


#5

Just finished watching an American movie called [u]THE BIG RED ONE[u], a story about the 1st Division, US Army and how it fought in France during both World Wars. These old photos from between those two tragic wars makes one think a bit. I had fruit, cheese and dried sausages for lunch, in memory of those who went before and endured so much.

Battles from our Civil War were fought all along this area and we’re always finding stuff from then. No big thing. Guess its the same for those folks who live around Verdun. They don’t get excited about stuff we would love to have! Such is life.


#6

Shotmeister,
Try “The Lost Battalion” youtube.com/watch?v=LnqRbXL0IG4, kinda “Gallipoli” with an American accent.


#7

At the highest point of the Verdun battle field there is now an Ossuary.( Literally a bone house). Its built like a Cathederal and it contains one thousand seven hundred TONS of human bones picked up off the battlefield when they were clearing it after the war. Basically, they didn’t know what to do with them all so they built the Ossuary as a memorial. Its right next to Fort Dourmond shown in the pictures if my memory is correct.


#8

Here as it was in 2008:

The whole basement of this building is filled up with bones, in some small windows you can see them.

And here the view across:


#9

I have to say, I have visited many battlefields in Europe and the US and seen many things but that Ossuary and the Verdun National Park in general was the most mind blowing thing I have ever seen.
Without doubt some of the bone contained are American, but to see it is just the weirdest thing. Bone stacked from floor to ceiling in every window. It really makes you think. Haunting is not too strong a word to describe it.


#10

I have never been there, so please don’t think my question ignorant. What is the “Bayonet Trench.” I have heard in France there is a place where a row of bayonets are sticking up out of the ground, and that under the ground, each is attached to a rifle held by human remains - that a big trench mortar shell or some other high explosive hit the edge of the trench and buried men ready to go over the top so instantly that they couldn’t even move from their positions, and that the bayonets were just not quite buried as they stood against the front edge of the trench. Is that true? If so, is that the place? I could not see in the photo any bayonets sticking up out of the ground.

I wish I could have visited there and Normandy on one of our two visits to France, but things happend both times to kill that part of our trips.

John Moss


#11

RE: “Tranchee des baionettes”:- All too true…a whole section of French Poilus ready to “go over the top” buried where they stood by an enormous shell ( probably a 305mm) hitting just in front or just behind their entrenchment, pushing all the dirt over them and snuffing them out in an instant.

Also, there are areas between the trenches and forts ( still preserved) where the scrap brass, ammo, shell fragments etc are so thick that the grass won’t grow…a cartridge collector’s paradise…signs also advise “Defense d’entrer” (Entry prohibited) as there are still live shells of all sizes around ( from 37mm up to 305mm). It is also prohibited to souvenir anything, even fired cases…much less entire Hotchkiss or St.Etienne strips, clips of 3 round Berthier ammo, CSRG full mags, etc.
The “Demineurs” ( French Army UXB specialists,) maintain regular school visits in all battlefield areas of France, lecturing the children on the dangers of old ammo, as well as doing “call outs” to the farmers who still today (2010) unearth Live shells and ammo from the agricultural land. ( some go back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, well before the majority of the Great War and WW II.) The “Demineurs” also maintain a regular presence at Verdun, disposing of tons of UXBs each year.

Their National Phone Call service is advertised in every Town and Municipality office, across the North of France.

A worthwhile place to visit, of all the French Battlefields.

Regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


#12

sksvlad,
I have nothing to add except thanks for starting another interesting and thought provoking thread.


#13

All what you want to know about the trench of bayonets.
Sorry, the page does not exist in English !

fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tranch%C3% … AFonnettes


#14

You want it in English do Google it.


#15

cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr/pag … dLieu=3151

worldwar1.com/heritage/bayonet.htm

atlasobscura.com/places/trench-bayonets

images.google.de/images?hl=de&so … CCUQsAQwAw


#16

SKSVLAD:

Thanks for posting the photos. My grandfather was an ambulance driver attached to the U.S. 33rd Infantry at Verdun. He was based for a while in a suburb of Verdun called Fauberg Pave and wrote in his journal that the Germans shelled the place every day. He regularly drove to Vaux and even took his ambulance over l’Mort Homme (in low gear all the way).


#17

Mr. Berdan,
Try a movie called “In Love and War”.
You’ll see WWI ambulance driving and Hemingway.
Here is a preview
youtube.com/watch?v=9EP6AhBzUQg


#18

German “Planet Wissen” has a good special called “Der Erste Weltkrieg - die Schlacht um Verdun”, go to internet.