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At the crossroads between Fleury and Fort Souville, at a place where the Chapel St. Fine once stood, there is a statue of a Lion. The forests around it are thick and overgrown. They hide the scarred battlefield where Jägers, Zouaves, Prussian Grenadiers, Moroccan Tirailleurs and Poilus fought for the last obstacle on the road to Verdun. The Fort Souville…

For links to awards and medals to men who fought on the Souville Heights, please scroll to the bottom of the page, it will be worth it ;-)

Fort Souville dominated the heights from which the "Nez de Souville" or "Souville Nase" protruded. While the "Nose" and its slopes were still occupied by the French the Germans were in position on the slopes to the west (direction Fleury) and east (direction Fort Vaux) Ravines the Ravin des Fontaines (known to the Germans as the "Souville Schlucht"). Covering the "Nose" was the remains of the "Chapitre-Wald" which bordered on the "Fumin-Wald" to the east of Fort Vaux.

To open a map of this sector on a different window, please click
HERE


After the Alpenkorps attack which took Fleury and Thiaumont on the 23rd of June Fort Souville found itself with unpleasant neighbours to the Northwest and Northeast. Along the back of the "Souville Nose"  the French troops still stood firm. That an attack was coming there was no doubt. In the last days of June and first days of July there were constant exchanges of fire between the troops in the Chapitre-Wald as French and Germans jostled with each other without any ground being gained.  

On the 11th of July 1916 the Jägers and Leib'ers of the Alpenkorps supported with the remnants of the 140. Infanterie Regiment attacked Fort Souville from the North West. The Germans were once again hoping for the success of their newly introduced "Grunkreuz" or "Greencross" gas but the French were ready. With effective gasmasks and plenty of reserves they brought the German assault to a standstill. The furthermost position reached was the crossroads where the remains of the St. Fine Kappelle stood. It is on this spot that the Lion of Souville now stands, a monument to the French 130eme Infanterie Division, one of the defenders of Souville.  

The attack on the 11th of July had failed; French counter attacks had succeeded in pushing the Germans off the slopes leading up to the Fort Souville and back up the slopes on the other side of the Ravin des Fontaines.

Right: French troops in the Bois Fumin

Fighting continued in the Chapitre-Wald but it was the 1st of August that would see the next notable German attack. The Garde Ersatz Division was to attack from the North West while the 21st Reserve Division and 50th Infantry Division attacked from the North East. While the attack from the North East pushed through the French positions in the Fumin-Wald and Berg-Wald and into the Chapitre-Wald the Garde Ersatz Division's attack was broken up by French machinegun fire from positions on the sides of the Souville Nase. Although a large section of forest had been gained and the 21st Reserve Division had fought an excellent battle the attack had failed. The objective had not been reached and the attackers had suffered losses they could not replace.

A new attack was launched on the 5th of August. Once again the G.E.D. found its attack broken up by machine gun fire and French counter attacks on the Ravin des Fontains. To the right of the Souville Nase in the 21st Reserve Division managed to add another corner to their part of the Chapitre-Wald, taking the South East corner and reaching the open ground in front of Fort Souville.  

The failed attack on the 5th of August was to be the last push against Souville. In the days that followed the French began to apply pressure in the form of small unit attacks, mainly grenadiers. The battle for Verdun was entering a new phase, one that would see the Germans on the defensive and the French troops attacking.

Above: The ground in front of Fort Souville as seen in October 1916. The fighting had died down and the French had managed to dig trenches in the cratered landscape.

On the 27th of June Soldat 2eme Classe Eugene Guillaume of the 5eme Compagnie was wounded at his post in Front of Souville. His was awarded the Croix de Guerre with a citation at Regimental level. To see his awards and read about the fighting click HERE

Awards to Prussian Guards and French Zouaves who were within a few hundred meters of each other on the Western slope of Souville. A fantastic fighting citation for a soldier who threw himself at a group of enemy soldiers with his bayonet. See HERE

An amazing feat of bravery that was not rewarded. French soldiers rescue a Bavarian officer in no mans land after a failed Bavarian attempt to take Souville. See HERE

 
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