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French Machine Gunners at Fort Vaux, 1916Download nowEnlargeShow similar images

Title: French Machine Gunners at Fort Vaux, 1916

Description: French soldiers manning a machine gun while defending Fort Vaux at the Battle of Verdun (February 21, 1916-December 18, 1916) during World War I. Fort Vaux was one of several defensive bastions maintained by French forces during this battle, and one of the two forts that fell into German hands, the other being Fort Douamount, which was captured without fining a shot in the early stages of this battle. The garrison at Fort Vaux fought heroically for weeks against overwhelming German forces and endured incessant artillery bombardments as well as flame-thrower attacks. Its commander, Major Sylvain-Eugene Raynal (who had been stationed at the fort in order to recuperate from a wound received in an earlier battle) had limited ability to communicate to his superiors as all telephone lines had been cut, so he sent messages via carrier homing pigeons, his final message ("This is my last pigeon.") informing French generals that his men were not only out of ammunition but water, as the Germans had poisoned the fort’s water supply. He was forced to surrender but Raynal’s heroic defense was recognized by the Crown Prince of Germany and the Kingdom of Prussia, Wilhelm Augustus Ernest (Frederick William Victor Augustus Ernest; May 6, 1882-July 20, 1951), who commanded German forces in the area, and who told Raynal that he should keep his sword for his gallant defense of Fort Vaux. This kind of Old World chivalry soon faded as the war became more brutal and inhumane.

Category: World War I

Keywords: WWI, World War I, Great War, First World War, Fort Vaux, France, French soldiers, French army, French troops, French machine gunners, French military personnel, forts, machine gun nests, pillboxes, defense positions, battles, battlefields, battlegrounds

Orientation: Landscape

Dimensions: 2550 x 1806 (4.61 MPixels) (1.41)

Print Size: 21.6 x 15.3 cm; 8.5 x 6.0 inches

File Size: 13.20 MB (13,845,624 Bytes)

Resolution: 300 x 300 dpi

Color Depth: 16.7 million (24 BitsPerPixel)

Compression: None

Image Number: 0000048526

Source: Jay Robert Nash Collection

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