Walking in the Footsteps of the Fallen...


...Verdun 1916, a new Battleground Guide, from Pen & Sword



Title: Walking in the Footsteps of the Fallen, Verdun 1916

Author: Christina Holstein

Publisher: Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52671-704-7

A new addition to the Battleground series of guide books and one I particularly like. As well as the background to the battle, this brings life to the story of the battlefield that was Verdun, a focus for the French and German armies during WW1, scene of huge casualty lists and vicious fighting.

There are a number of sites at Verdun which the visitor can see in a car tour. I can vouch for that having seen a few in a day a few years ago as we were driving through the area. What this book makes clear is that there is much more that remains to remind us of those battles and indeed the human cost of the fighting, hidden away in the large areas of forest which cover the landscape in an arc around the north of Verdun itself.  Illustrated with lots of photos, including archive images which show the devastation of the war and modern day images showing memorials and remaining fortifications that are still there to be seen on the tours. There are maps and GPS waypoints to assist you as well.

The four walking tours are very well detailed, but do include the advice to keep to the tracks , not go into the closed/overgrown bunkers and definitely not to attempt to pick up any surviving ordnance as these remain very dangerous and litter the area. Not advice to be ignored for your own safety as well as that of others.  Tour one covers the Bois des Caures, Beaumont and Wavrille Hill, where fighting occurred 21-24 February 1916. The second tour takes in Azannes-et-Soumazannes, Herbebois and Chemin St. Andre, the secne of fighting 21-23 February 1916. Tour 3 moves forward to March-October 1916, and looks at the Damloup Battery, La Laufee, Chenois and Fumin sectors. Then finally, tour 4, St. Michel Ridge, Ravin de la Poudriere, Ravin de Bazil, La Caillette, Fleury and The Louse, also from the period of March-October 1916.

These are all walking tours through woods so may not be accessible to all though there are lots of other tips and advice in the book for the visitor to the area.  Ahving been there myself, and seen the Verdun Memorial museum, the Fort de Vaux, the Ossuary and the Trenche des Bayonettes there is so much to make Verdun a fascinating place to visit.  This book will certainly go with me next time we are in the area. 

Thanks to Pen and Sword for my copy.