Marking a century since one of history’s bloodiest sieges, the Battle of Verdun, this piece remembers the 300-day conflict that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives and left another half-million wounded. Known as the ‘Meat Grinder,’ the battle began on 21 February 1916, when German forces attempted to ‘bleed France white.’ Despite the high casualty rate, the battle resulted in a stalemate, with neither side making significant territorial gains.

Verdun, a fortress town in northeastern France, was chosen due to its strategic location and symbolic significance. The Germans hoped that by attacking Verdun, they would draw French forces into a costly battle of attrition. The French, in turn, were determined to defend Verdun at all costs, leading to a fierce and prolonged conflict.

The battle was characterised by brutal trench warfare and the extensive use of artillery. Both sides suffered heavy losses, with many soldiers falling victim to the harsh conditions and new weapons such as poison gas. Despite the high death toll, the Battle of Verdun is often overshadowed by the Battle of the Somme, which began just five months later and resulted in even greater casualties.

Remembering the Battle of Verdun serves as a stark reminder of the horrors of war and the immense human cost of conflict. Despite the passage of time, the battlefields of Verdun still bear the scars of this devastating conflict, a silent testament to the lives lost and the futility of war.

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