Caption: Côte 304 Verdun, after recapture by French troops, 24th August 1917
About the Talk: Contrary to popular opinion, the French army did not cease offensive operations after the disastrous Nivelle Offensive of spring 1917 and the subsequent mutinies. Nor did the fighting at Verdun come to an end in 1916. In reality, the successful French counter offensives led to preliminary planning for a two-Army operation in 1917 to break out of the Verdun salient and recapture the strategically very significant Briey coal basin. The French Army mutinies of May and June 1917 led to a more limited version of the plan being implemented, with the aim of establishing new lines for a 1918 break out. The urgent need to rebuild morale meant that nothing was left to chance. Immense logistical effort, detailed planning and careful training brought success to an army weary of war but determined to win. The industrial nature of the preparations, the spectacular numbers of guns and the first appearance of the Americans at Verdun presage the campaigns of 1918 and the final Allied victory.
About the speaker: Christina Holstein is a leading authority on the Battle of Verdun. For many years she lived close to the battlefield. She has explored it in great detail and often conducted battlefield tours there. She has also written six notable books on the Battle of Verdun, and has been appointed as a consultant and historian to numerous BBC documentaries.
Book signing: Christina has written six Great War books. They are in the Battlefield Verdun series. Signed copies will all be available for the purchase after after the talk at discounted prices of £10-£12. The books are:Verdun 1917 (on which this talk is based), Fort Douaumont, Fort Vaux, Walking Verdun - A brief Guide to the Battlefield, Walking in the Footsteps of the Fallen, and Verdun - The Left Bank.
Where we meet: We meet at the Royal British Legion Club, Queensway, Petts Wood, Orpington, Kent BR5 1DH. Meetings are held on the last Thursday of each month (except August and December). They start at 19:30, with the doors (and the bar) opening at 18:30. We do not charge entrance fees but do welcome donations of £5 or more towards our costs.
Getting there: The club is next to Morrison's supermarket and Petts Wood railway station. Parking at the rear of the club is free but you need to type your car registration into the machine (on the left as you enter the club). Failure to enter your registration can lead to a £50 fine. There's easy free parking in adjacent side streets.