VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > Military Summary > The Western Front, 1916–1917
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
The Western Front, 1916–1917
Feb. 21
Battle of Verdun. The Germans concentrated 1,400 guns on a short front of eight miles on the right bank of the Meuse. After a devastating bombardment they took Fort Douaumont (Feb. 25). French reinforcements were rushed to this sector, but the defense was hampered by the bottlemouth of the salient.  1
March 6–April 10
Renewal of the attack, this time on both sides of the salient. Gen. Robert Nivelle replaced Gen. Pétain, and the French began a series of vigorous counterattacks (May).  2
June 2
The Germans finally took Fort Vaux, and before the end of the month the works of Thiaumont (June 23). Heavy attacks continued until July 11, when the Germans went over to the defensive. The French losses have been estimated at about 350,000, the German at somewhat less.  3
July 1–Nov. 18
Battle of the Somme. After a long and intensive bombardment the British advanced on a front of 15 miles toward Bapaume, while the French objective was Péronne. Though the Germans were outnumbered at least six to one at first, the British had but little success. The heavily laden infantry was unable to move fast enough to keep up with an extraordinarily rigid time schedule. British losses on one day were 60,000, heavier than in this or any other war.  4
Oct. 24–Dec. 18.
The French (Gen. Charles Mangin) counterattacked at Verdun and recaptured Forts Douaumont and Vaux (Nov. 2).  5
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.