Bristol Fighter by Peter Cooksley

By Peter Cooksley

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By September only six siege batteries with seven guns remained at Verdun: KMK Batteries 3, 4, and 6 and SKM Batteries 1, 2, and 5. 1917–18 – Decline During the last two years of the war, siege guns continued to serve on both the Western and Eastern fronts even though their utility had passed. With no permanent fortifications to bombard, siege artillery batteries were assigned other targets for which they were ill suited, such as towns or field fortifications. The siege guns’ utility was also greatly diminished because their range, even when firing the lighter short projectiles, was far less than that of Allied counter-battery artillery.

5cm guns from SKM Batteries 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, and two 28cm howitzers from SKM Batteries 7 and 8. This was the largest concentration of German siege guns during the war and, as it turned out, also siege artillery’s swan song. Verdun was a fortress zone with a ring of some 17 forts and redoubts reinforced with numerous smaller secondary concrete fortifications. Among the strongest and most modern forts were Douaumont and Vaux, which coincidently bore the brunt of the German attack. However, the battle for the forts was not decisive because the defending French Second Army did not base its defense on the fortifications.

M. Romanych) 34 To mitigate the bombardment, the French partially evacuated their defenses, returned artillery fire, and even launched an attack to neutralize the main grouping of German artillery northeast of the fortress. However, the measures were inadequate, and on September 5, the VII Reserve Corps launched an assault. French troops resisted stubbornly and only the interval works of Bersillies and La Salmagne were seized. However, the next day, Fort Boussois and interval work Rocq fell to German infantry, creating a gap in the fortress ring.

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