|In center of Verdun stands a statue to its citizens|
who endured attacks on their city during
La Grande Guerre. She is dressed in period clothing.
Today, the old city is a vibrant place, peaceful on the quai beside the flowing waters of the Meuse. At the medieval bridge stands the carved monument to the French Soldiers who served and defended the city throughout the four years of war.
|Five French soldiers on the Quai in Verdun: Artilleryman, Miner, Cavalryman, Poilu, Airman|
|Land near Fort Douaumont marked by foxholes and shell craters.|
Fort Douaumont was one of a series of battlements ringing the city of Verdun. Today, only two remain, Douaumont and Vaux.
Built in late 1880s, Douaumont is underground. Carved into the hillside, it is bone-chillingly cold, damp, foul smelling and in general extremely unpleasant. Yet, thousands of French served in this fort and fought in some of the most bitter and costly engagements of the war. If you visit—and I suggest you do—you will definitely want to take a tour. Especially interesting to me are two areas: the gun turret room and the latrines. But you definitely come away from here stunned that men endured such hardships for long months at a time.
|Entrance to Fort Douaumont|
A truly enormous building, the Ossuary overwhelms you with grief to stand and consider the loss of so many whose names are unknown but whose loss certainly grieved those who did know them, yearn for them and suffer at their passing. The tower stands 150 feet high, truly colossal as you stand beneath it. The cloisters to each side reach over 450 feet long.
|Central tower of the Ossuary. This scaffolding you see |
herewas a renovation begun for The Centenniel.
Surrounding this structure is the largest French cemetery for those who died in World War One. More than 16,160 men repose here. One plot contains those whose names are known. Another, those who are known but to God. When the Ossuary was built, families of those deceased whose names were known contributed to the fund to bury those whose names were not.
|Front entrance to Ossuary|
Here pictured are a few of the graves. But other separate sections include a plot for Jewish soldiers and another for muslims. France had one of the largest contingents of colonial troops fighting with French nationals during the war.
To one corner of the cemetery is this fine sculpture of a French soldier at rest at last.
|French soldiers buried individually in front of Ossuary.|
|French soldiers buried at Ossuary, Known Only to God.|
|French soldier at peace in cemetery at the Ossuary.|