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Letters from the Front

 Verdun 23

The Battle of Verdun was the longest and  the largest battle of the Great War on the Western Front. The battle took place on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse. The Germans were inspired by the experience of the Second Battle at Champagne in 1915 and they rapidly captured the Meuse heights where it would give them a good defensive spot and allowed them to bombard the city of Verdun with artillery.

The Battle of Verdun lasted for 303 days and became the longest and one of the most costliest battles of the Great War and human history. An estimate of 1,250,000 lives were lost on both sides during the 9 month battle that lasted from February to December, the battle much how the Western Front was since the First Battle of the Marne and the Retreat to Mons in 1914 was a battle of attrition. Poor weather delayed the attack but on the morning of February 21st, the German Empire enjoyed success as they captured Fort Douaumont and afterwards, the counter attack slowed to a halt as the French fought with courage and every ounce of their being to defend the city of Verdun. This is where the famous phrase, “On ne passe pas” ( They Shall not Pass.) was uttered to the French defenders.

After the German invasion of France had been halted at the River Marne in what was called, the First Battle of the Marne in 1914, the war of movement had ended at Yser and the First Battle of Ypres and soon, the war would become a war of attrition and stalemate along the Western Front. The German Empire began to defend the land taken from their advancements in 1914 and the French began siege warfare to break through their defensive lines and retake the territory that they had lost at the beginning of the war.  The Germans thought that capturing or threatening to capture the city of Verdun would scare the French and put their armies at Verdun to defend the city. During the second battle at Champagne which took place a year prior in 1915, they pulverized the French with artillery so that made them a little bit weary of the Germans.  The Battle of Verdun is the main focus of this first impressions of the new Battlefield 1 expansion titled, “They Shall Not Pass.” which is all about the French Army and their heroic battles during the Great War. This “First Impressions” will be split in two since there are 4 maps in total that take place at different points and different years of this massive war, this particular impression will detail the two maps that make up the portion of Verdun in 1916.


“Verdun Heights” takes place in the early morning of the attack on Verdun, around 1 million shells were fired during the opening barrage which caused massive forest fires around the city and could be seen for hundreds of miles, this particular fighting came to be  known as the “Devil’s Anvil” because the artillery and slaughter would never end, the initial fighting around Verdun made villages like Samogneux a shadow of their former selves. Verdun Heights is a massive uphill battle towards the fortresses of Verdun where the French will make their final stand.

“Verdun Heights” takes place in the hills north of Verdun with the village of Haumont-pres-Samogneux, a village that no longer exists in the real world because it ceased to exist during the battle. The fighting around Verdun was so intense that villages disappeared overnight and these villages and towns died for France. Verdun Heights is like a heavily defended fortress: There’s pillboxes, bunkers, trenches, machine gun emplacements, artillery guns, the entire nine yards.

It feels and looks alot like Hill 137 from Battlefield: Bad Company 2:Vietnam, there is layers of wooden trenches, bunker emplacements, the hill itself is hectic and very close-quartered. The French have the upper ground since they have all the defenses at their disposal, the Germans can break through but it might take a while. The area around the hill is scorched earth: It’s nothing but fire and scorched earth, rocks and trees provide cover but for the rest of what remains: It’s just death and destruction. I really like this map because it has a tone that the rest of the map lists in Battlefield 1 doesn’t really have, the name really fits because it’s a constant struggle to fight and push ground.




The story of Fort de Vaux inspired me deeply and almost brought me to tears: The story of Fort de Vaux is one of resilience and great courage against impossible odds. These men fought a tough battle for every inch of ground in the dark corridors, mazes, and wet galleries until they surrendered in the Summer of 1916 due to their supplies running out and no reinforcements were coming to save the day.

The Germans launched 40 million artillery shells over the course of the battle at Verdun, it pulverized the ground and turned mother nature inside out, while men on both sides fought savagely with whatever weapon they could get their hands on. You can see this on Fort de Vaux, the landscape surrounding the fort is obliterated: The earth looks like the face of the moon, it’s shattered and gone and all of this makes Fort de Vaux an interesting map.

The layout towards Fort de Vaux is interesting, especially on Operations. Fort de Vaux is an uphill battle towards the fort itself: You’ll have to navigate zigzag trenches, bunker emplacements, pillboxes, and machine-guns in order to get into the Fort. Once inside the Fort, the map becomes smaller and more close-quartered then ever before. It’s Operation Metro or Operation Locker for Battlefield 1, and it’s very interesting. There are no tanks here, there are no vehicles at all and it’s pure infantry combat and that’s great.

So far, I like the Operations on Verdun. Make sure to return tomorrow for the last Operation titled Beyond the Marne.


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