On the 21st February 1916 the Battle of Verdun began
The Battle of Verdun, was fought from 21 February – 18 December 1916, it was one of the largest battles of the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies.
The battle raged for ten terrible months and resulted in over 250,000 deaths making it one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the war.
Thousands were injured,and so horrific was the fighting that others, quite simply, disappeared without trace.
Today the forest of Verdun is littered with the scars of its painful past. The ground is still littered with unexploded shells, strewn with barbed wire and poisoned with arsenic.
The forest is considered a no-go zone area and nothing grows there.
MEN OF VERDUN
THERE are five men in the moonlight
That by their shadows stand;
Three hobble humped on crutches,
And two lack each a hand.
Frogs somewhere near the roadside
Chorus their chant absorbed:
But a hush breathes out of the dream-light
That far in heaven is orbed.
It is gentle as sleep falling
And wide as thought can span,
The ancient peace and wonder
That brims the heart of man.
Beyond the hills it shines now
On no peace but the dead,
On reek of trenches thunder-shocked,
Tense fury of wills in wrestle locked,
A chaos crumbled red!
The five men in the moonlight
Chat, joke, or gaze apart.
They talk of days and comrades,
But each one hides his heart.
They wear clean cap and tunic,
As when they went to war;
A gleam comes where the medal's pinned:
But they will fight no more.
The shadows, maimed and antic,
Gesture and shape distort,
Like mockery of a demon dumb,
Out of the hell-din whence they come,
That dogs them for his sport:
But as if dead men were risen
And stood before me there
With a terrible fame about them blown
In beams of spectral air,
I see them, men transfigured
As in a dream, dilate
Fabulous with the Titan-throb
Of battling Europe's fate;
For history's hushed before them,
And legend flames afresh,—
Verdun, the name of thunder,
Is written on their flesh.