The Great War Part 115, October 28th 1916

The Closing Victories a t Verdun 393 B they river the Germans were pushed aback mile to Cumieres village and then from Caurettes Wood they were assailed by another French force. When day broke on May 25th one point of the French pincers was thrust into the cellars and rubble of the village eastward and another point of the pincers closed westward on the Germans above Caurettes Wood. The enemy commander had then to free his trapped and half-scattered force and by hammering for the greater part of a week against the left point of the pincers he compelled the French force in Caurettes Wood to loosen its hold on Cumieres. It is however to be observed that the French commander controlled the situation from the night of May 24th to the morning of May 31st. All this time he held the survivors of the Thuringian regiment in a vice and compelled the enemy to launch from the northern wood mass after mass of infantry against the terrific fire of the French guns. The original French garrison of Cumieres was very small, and though the counter-attack was made by a larger force, its first victory was won at no great loss, Enemys compulsory and the enemy was then forced to sacrifice sacrifice his men in divisions during a week of tremendous gunfire defence. By this time the French had brought out anew missile of attack against the line of German observation balloons that dominated the hills on either side of the Meuse and directed the fire of thousands of German guns. Anew kind of French bomb destroyed the ”floating “sausages and left the German gunners in a condition of great disad­vantage. The French airmen were masters of the air, and were able to trace the direction of the flow of German ammunition and German reinforcements spot for their own guns and protect their own observation balloons. Meanwhile General Nivelle was in a position to make his preparations in secret and when Falkenhayn was bringing all his available forces to bear against Dead Man Hill and Cumieres a surprising answering move was delivered by the French commander on the other side of the Meuse. Here the main French positions had scarcely altered since the Twentieth Army Corps flung the Brandenburgers back on Douaumont Fort. The fort was a ruin hemmed in by new French trenches and Under wings of dominated by French howitzers. But as victory the German iEmperor had staked the military prestige of his empire on the possession of the fort, General Nivelle selected this point for attack with a view to lightening the enemy pressure against the French positions across the Meuse. His direct object was to relieve the pressure against the Dead Man Hill by compelling the Germans to bring large reinforcements across the Meuse. A single French division was assigned the task of making a diversion but it was a famous division— the 5th— under a famous commander General Mangin who with his men had broken all the attacks made by the enemy the previous April on the Douaumont-Vaux sector. In their first Verdun battle the troops of the 5th Division had killed or captured every German who reached their trenches and had stormed every position they were set to attack. “You march under the wings ”of victory said General Mangin in April, when he gave his amen furlough for a month while the division was being strengthened with new drafts. In the third week in May the troops came back from their homes with their ranks brought up to full strength. CONTRAST IN TRANSPORT: WHEEL-LESS TROLLEY AND HORSELESS CARS NEAR VERDUN. Simple but effective water-cart in use near Verdun. It would be difficult to imagine abetter illustration of the contrast between the old and the new than this horse-drawn trolley without wheels halting beside the wheeled vehicles without horses.
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