Just back from VERDUN

Just back from VERDUN where we guided a group of 9 around the forts, woods, tunnels and cemeteries of this, the longest battle of WW1. Verdun was cultivated after the war, very differently from the Somme where the woods regrew pretty much where they were, and villages were rebuilt. At Verdun destroyed villages stayed destroyed and the ravaged countryside was planted with broadleaf trees, so it is a forested landscape – but the downside is that you cannot follow the battle so easily as at the Somme. But go into the woods and you see the dramatically pitted ground, and the ghastliness of the year 1916 comes back. Our group discussed (after a bibulous dinner) the rights and wrongs of Falkenhayn’s strategy, whether he meant to fight a battle of attrition or got sucked into it, whether Verdun was a French victory and if so whether it was due to the Battle of the Somme draining away precious German reserves from Verdun… Exactly 100 years after the event it still prompts heated debate, in our case helped by a dose of Calvados.