Verdun 1944

Momentous events in history are the topic of the week, and Sepia Saturday gives us the prompt of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, just a few moments before his assassination, which started World War I. One of the major battlefields during World War I was outside the city of Verdun, about 200 miles (250 km) from Paris. The town is ancient, having been an occupied fortress before the Romans came rolling through, and takes its name from the Latin Verodunum, meaning strong fort. The town is surrounded by several forts which were targets for German forces in an effort to break France, and therefore break Britain.

Carroll at Verdun, France / Paris 200 miles west

Carroll at Verdun, France / Paris 200 miles west

While part of the town fell to German forces, not all of it did, and eventually Allied forces attacked the German flank at the Somme, bringing a conclusion to most of the fighting at Verdun. Over eleven months, hundreds of thousands of men died on the verdant land in and round the town. Verdun hosts several monuments and cemeteries consecrating the numerous remains. French General Philippe Pétain helped to keep open the Bar-le-Duc road – the only road available to bring in supplies to the beleaguered town. It became known as The Sacred Way.

Carroll, taken at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll, taken at Verdun, France 1944

During World War II, France fell to the Germans thanks in part to the actions of the very same General Pétain, and Verdun and all of northwestern France became occupied by German troops. After the Normandy Beach landings by Allied forces in 1944, the Germans were pushed out of the region. By September of that year, Verdun was liberated, but then heavily bombed by the retreating German army. This interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald describes troop movements as of September 2, 1944. The Allied troops moved north toward Belgium and Luxembourg virtually unopposed.

Carroll at Verdun, 1944

Carroll at Verdun, 1944

These photographs found in the local antique stall are badly scratched from time and mishandling, but show a soldier – Carroll – while he was in Verdun in 1944. We can see the snow in some of these, and so we know they must have been after the September offensive by the Allied forces that freed Verdun from German occupation. The first photograph might have been taken in the autumn of that year, and shows the signpost for both Paris and Bar-le-Duc.

Carroll & Munan at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll & Munar at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll is the fellow on the left in this picture. I’m guessing at the spelling of Munar. The handwriting is small and cramped. Maybe it is Monroe. Although they were certainly in the area in connection to the Allied victory over Germany and subsequent stabilization efforts, that is all we know. The photos became lost somehow, separated from their subjects and forever a curiosity for us to muse upon.

For other major events and significant moments in history, great and small, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Moments frozen in time

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anyjazz
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 08:25:29

    Excellent rescue of some important treasures. A fine effort in connecting the photographs with the history of the war. Good post.

    Reply

  2. Jackie van Bergen
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 11:25:08

    The photo maybe scratched and marked from folding and carrying in a mother or wife’s handbag – a stressful time for those left at home too.

    Reply

  3. susannarosalie
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:27:06

    I agree, that traces on old photos, like marks, creases, stains or pinholes, hold their own mystery. And to me these pictures are not less of a value.
    Thanks for embedding those in the very interesting background story.

    Pretty cool how Carroll put his helmet on.

    Reply

  4. boundforoz
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 16:16:16

    It’s good to see the :little” people remembered. An interesting post.

    Reply

  5. postcardy
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 14:13:01

    Its hard to even imagine hundreds of thousands dying near Verdun in World War I. And even harder to understand why people keep fighting more wars.

    Reply

  6. Mike Brubaker
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 19:14:20

    Some events are just too big to ever completely understand, and WW2 must rank at the top. Even lost snapshots can add a new perspective.

    Reply

  7. Jackie
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 19:30:41

    Fascinating post!! I agree none of us can comprehend the impact of WWI.

    Reply

  8. Bob Scotney
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 10:38:47

    You have made a good connection to the history of Verdun in both World Wars, I suspect we shall near much more about it during the centenary of the even in WWI.

    Reply

  9. La Nightingail
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 14:00:26

    How great that you took those photos & established their general background by researching their period & place in the war. It is sad to see old photos get lost – often without names or any identification of any kind to trace. I have, on occasion, bought the unidentified ones and made up stories to go with them just so they wouldn’t languish forever unloved. Silly, I suppose – but it makes me feel better.

    Reply

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