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After his July push through between the Chapitrewald and Fleury in the direction of Souville had failed, von Falkenhayn had ordered the 5th Army to stop the offensive at Verdun and to begin to fight defensively.  


The Period between mid July when the German Offensive stopped until October when the French offensive began saw a series of bloody local attacks and counter attacks launched for the most part to gain the high ground, slopes and hills. The Germans still wished to take Souville, Froideterre, the Vigne-Schlucht and Tavannes the French wanted to push the Germans back from their positions in front of Souville, retake Thiaumont, la Haie-Renard and the Vaux-Regnier. Of course, top of the French list was also to retake Fleury.

On the 12th of July 1916 General Nivelle ordered General Mangin to " ...clear the area in front of Fort Souville and retake the village of Fleury " without delay.  


The French 33eme Division, arriving at Verdun on the 13th of July, was one of the units at Mangins disposal.  


On the 15th of July the 37eme and 8eme Infantry Divisions attacked but were brought to a halt by German machine gun and artillery fire. The only gain was the P.C.119 which fell to the 115eme Regiment d`Ìnfanterie. Over the next few days the fighting continued unabated. On the 18th the Germans tried and failed to retake the P.C.119, the French launched a failed attack on Fleury. On the 19th the Zouaves took the Poudriere behind Fleury, on the 24th the 11eme Regiment d`infanterie (33eme I.D.) took the battery "C".

Scroll to the bottom for information on the medal pictured left.


Bavarian soldiers in the trenches at Fleury. Fort Douaumont can be seen in the background.

On the 1st of August Falkenhayn authorised a new German offensive. Attacking from the Vaux-Chapitre Wald the troops were supposed to pierce the French lines in the direction of Fort Souville and Tavannes. From there the advance to Verdun would be a cake walk. On the morning of the 1st at 9:00 am the Germans attacked. The offensive reached a depth of 800 meters then came to a halt, the German infantry fighting with bayonets and entrenching tools against a foe who refused to give way.  


On the 3rd of August Mangin launched his planned attack on the Z.W. Thiaumont and the Village of Fleury. On the 4th of August the Bavarian 6th Division counter attacked at Fleury pushing the French back to the Ravin des Vignes and the Poudriere.  


Nivelle now planned a systematic reduction of the Fleury pocket with Mangin`s troops and the Vaux Chapitre pocket with Baret's men. The 24 hour long bombardment however tipped the Germans off to the coming offensive and at 5:00 a.m. on the 8th of August the 1st bavarian Jäger Regiment of the Alpenkorps beat Nivelle to the punch by attacking and retaking Thiaumont.   

On the 17th-18th of August Fleury changed hands for the last time as Mangins men finally took the ruins,

Hans Heiß of the Bavarian Leib Regiment describes a trip to Fleury in mid July of 1916  

A red streak in the starry night, then another, then another. They burst into red stars. Are they fireworks? A game? No, they are serious, deadly serious. Whizzing over Fleury and Douaumont. The Frenchies had noticed that we were being relieved and had called up an artillery barrage. A barrage meant hell!  

Run Comrades, run for your lives!  

There is the railway embankment... a ghostly area, keep running. The first salvo comes screaming in... flames, smoke... keep running... move forward. Into the hollow ground beyond... here hell opened up! Whizzing, Howling, gurgling the shells come in. Black earth, smoke and flames shoot up into the air. A wall of death.  

Panting, the breath is stilted. Jumping from shell hole to shell hole... through! then FORWARD! Keep running!  

Up the embankment, stumbling, falling. The heart beating in the throat...falling, getting up, continuing. Foam on the lips... up there, the large shell crater... get into it! Once there you can get your breath back. Almost there, there where they are all headed for.  

Whizz, bang! Flame and smoke... right in the heavy shell hole! Don’t go in, pass it by!  

Here they crawl forward, blood stained and blackened by smoke "Kamerad! Kamerad! For Gods sake... help me!" "And me!" "And me!"  

Cannot, have to get forward into position... don’t listen, don’t look! Go past! Move... faster!  

"I cannot carry on Hans!...I cant go on!"

"But the machinegun is needed up there, it must go forward...must! Give it here... and a case of ammunition."  

Then once again forward, always forward. Its seems impossible, the entrance to Fleury is a sea of flames. There is surely no way through. Wait it out..., behind some rocks and burned wooden posts, cowering in a shell hole...waiting in the middle of hell. Screaming, howling, whizzing and bursting. Splinters, fire, smoke and gas... a suffocating cloud coming closer, always closer.  

Above: Bavarian Machine Gunners in front of Fleury

There is a 38cm shell from fort Marre the explosion sending fire shooting high in the sky, glowing bright, incendiary shells.  

There! There! It is terrible, someone is burning. He tosses his burning backpack away but his uniform is burning. Ha, ha, ha! Laughing, laughing at the sky...he has gone mad.  

Burying the head in the sand. See nothing, Hear nothing, think nothing! Think nothing!  

Then it was over and we could move forward.  

It will be four days in the front line now. Four endless, terrible, desperate days. And four terrible nights. And if we survive... the same road through hell back again.  

Two men pass carrying in a wounded man wrapped in a shelter half.  

A whizz and a bang. Flame and smoke, all three men are swept away, the medics and wounded man ripped apart, gone forever. No! No! No further! Throw it all away, the backpack, rifle, gasmask... and now run! Run! Run far away.. far away from this hell.  

But what about the Kameraden up ahead that have spent the last four days in the frontline? The men who are desperate to be relieved? And the machinegun is needed up there... it MUST get forward.  

It is almost 1 a.m. Keep moving! Forward! the last hollow. Another pause for breath. The frontline should be just ahead of us, the barrage now falls behind us. Where is our artillery? Are they sleeping? No, they are not, behind us on the horizons we see hundreds of flashes, streaks of light passing over our heads and heading towards the enemy. Revenge and payback, death and destruction for the others. it seems a rumbling scream and cry of fury is coming from the other side now, it sounds terrible.  
There! What is it? A movement! a spectre rises out of a hellhole "Who goes there?"  

"Your Relief!"

Pictured below: The Military Passes of three Bavarians, Two were wounded at Flury, one was captured.





Above and Left:


The Militärpaß of Ersatzreservisten Josef Scharl of the 3. Komp. In the 6. bayerische Infanterie Regiment. Scharl served at Verdun where he was wounded on the 26th of July by an artillery shell splinter.at Fleury.

He later fought on the Somme, in Flanders, at Arras, in Flanders again then in the Artois

He was awarded an Iron Cross in December of 1917 after a long string of battles, proof that the Iron Cross was not simply out with the rations.

Strangely enough, Scharl was not awarded a bavarian Militärverdienstkreuz III Klasse.



Left: A map showing the positions of the Bavarian Regiments defending Fleury from the west.

Shown are the regiments of the three Militärpaß shown here.

The /b.11 represents the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment, the /b.13 the 13th.

The 6th Regiment (above) was in reserve to be used for counter attacks.


Johann Glasner served in the 3rd company of the 13th Bavarian Infantry Regiment. The Regiment arrived on the 22nd of June in Verdun and was sent to Fleury right away. During the French attacks in mid July he was wounded by shrapnel in the head. After a long period of recovery he was posted to a Landsturm battalion in a quiet sector.
The Militärpaß showing the short career of Landsturm-Rekrut Johannes Paulus.
Arriving at the front line on the 27th of July 1916 he was immediately sent to join the 5th Company of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment to the west of Fleury. The French attacks were already underway and somewhere between the 3rd and 5th of August he was declared “Missing at Fleury”. It was later established that he, along with a number of men from his company, had been overrun and captured by the French during their attack on the 4th of August.
Below: Sergent Paul Garron of the 20eme Regiment d`infanterie was awarded one of his four Croix de Guerre’s during the July attacks. On the 24th of July the 33eme Division d´infanterie attacked Thiaumont, On the 25th it took part in the attack on Fleury helping to take it on the 3rd-4th of August before being beaten back by the Bavarian 6th divison.  

His citation at Regimental level reads: “An energetic and courageous N.C.O. On the 26th of July 1916 he took command of his section under very difficult conditions. Leading by example he encouraged his section to hold their ground, not ceding an inch of ground to the enemy”.  

Garron would be cited at divisional level a year later for capturing an enemy bunker and taking 20 prisoners. In mid 1917 he suffered heavy contusions after being buried alive by a large calibre artillery shell. The stars on his Croix de Guerre hide visions of hell.


 
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