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"Verdun" is the name that the German nation thinks of when they hear 1916. The battle that Falkenhayn thought would bleed the French dry and stop them from launching other offensives bled Germany dry as well. The troops that fell could not be replaced and even after it was realised it was a needless sacrifice the battle raged on and the blood continued to flow.


The name "Douaumont" shone like a star in the night sky, but in the flickering light of the flames of the "hell of Verdun" there were others... "Vaux", "Toten Mann", "Wald von Avocourt", "Höhe 304", "Fleury"



.... all smaller versions of hell from which "the ghosts of our magnificent regiments stare at us accusingly". Towards the end of the year the French counter offensive sealed the fate of the battlefield.

"The Somme", a tremendous defensive battle left its stamp on 1916 as well. It came to life in the blistering heat of July and died out in the icy November fog. If Verdun was a miserable failure, the Somme was a "glorious defensive victory". Although almost bled white in their positions the German army still found the force to hold the united British and French offensive back. Later generations would be astounded (according to Goes) that men could hold out while so outnumbered by men
and machines. It was immaterial that a bit of ground was ceded... the front line was not ruptured.

Also in the East where the badly beaten Russians had recovered with surprising speed the offensives burned with a frightening intensity. Where German divisions stood alone the high command was confident of their success, examples being the battle on the Naroczsee and the three battles at Baranowitschi. On the fronts held by allies it was a different story, their cultural mix did not offer a uniform quality of men. Their best troops were engaged in the Isonzo battles. When the Brussilow offensive started the Russians pierced the Austro Hungarian fronts in Wolhynien and in Galizia leaving the German divisions there in a precarious position. The German divisions held fast but other German divisions had to be rushed up to save them and avert disaster.

The initial phase of the Russian offensive was a success and the Romanians thought this was the moment to join the Russians. Without a declaration of war they marched into Siebenbürgen area. German troops were rushed to counter them. With mighty blows at Hermannstadt, in the Geisterwald and by Kronstadt they threw the Romanians back, continuing through the Szurduk pass, beating the enemy at Targu-Jui and Arges and continuing south to greet their approaching Donau Army comrades in front of Bukarest before reaching the Moldau northern border by the end of the year. The Russians tried to draw the pressure off the Romanians by
attacking in the Carpathan forests but the German and Austro Hungarian troops held them back.

It cost blood and effort, but Romania was rapidly and decisively put out of action.

At the end of the year in southern Serbia Sarrail's men and Serbians attacked resulting in the first battle of Monastir, the Germans going to the aid of their Bulgarian allies to hold the enemy back.

The year ended with an exhausted, but still motivated German army fighting on all fronts.

The Brusillow Offensive

Fighting between the Styr and Stochod: 4th of June to the 15th of June 1916

The defensive battle at Kowel: 28th of July to 8th of October 1916

 
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