During the First World War Verdun was a fortified French garrison town on the River Meuse 200km east of Paris. In December 1915, General Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of Staff of the German Army, decided to attack Verdun. Although he admitted he would be unable to break through at these point on the Western Front, he argued that in defending Verdun, the Germans would "bleed the French army white".
The German attack on Verdun started on 21
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now counter-attacked and General Charles Mangin became a national hero when the forts at Douaumont and Vaux were recaptured by 2nd November, 1916. Over the next six weeks the French infantry gained another 2km at Verdun.
Verdun, the longest battle of the First World War, ended on the 18th December. The French Army lost about 550,000 men at Verdun. It is estimated that the German Army suffered 434,000 casualties. About half of all casualties at Verdun were killed.