Battle of Verdun Remembered Nearly 100 years After It Started

During World War One, the Battle of Verdun took more than 300,000 lives over 300 days. The area in the French forest where the battle took place is still full of the remains of those who fought there almost 100 years ago.

The Battle of Verdun took place in 1916 and was the longest single battle in military history. By the time it ended in favour of the French the entire area (bigger than Paris) had been decimated.


It became known as ‘Zone Rouge’ and once the war had ended was left abandoned and for nature to grow over the battle that had once been there.

Today, the forest floor is still covered with hundreds of unexploded ordnance, barbed wire, poisons and the remains of soldiers who died there. Many areas of the forest have had to be cordoned off on a permanent basis since so many dangerous weapons kept being discovered by locals and local farmers.


Visiting the forest today, it is difficult to tell that the devastating battle had taken place there, except for the dangerous remains that lie beneath the dead leaves on the floor.

Task forces are sent into cordoned off areas in attempts to clear the forest of shells and dangerous weaponry almost 100 years after the battle took place.


In some areas the undergrowth and trees have never grown back because of the lethal levels of poisons that were used there.

It is also laden with trenches and holes dug by the soldiers where they could hide from shelling and defend themselves against the enemy.


The battle was a true test of valour for the French as the Germans tried to bleed them dry not letting up for 10 months.

The battle began when the Germans attacked the town of Verdun near the border with Belgium. 140,000 German troops were deployed for the initial attack along with around 1000 guns to devastate the town, the Mail Online reports.


One French soldier wrote that the entire town and are had been turned into a volcano, with no way out because of the bodies of the dead.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE