Verdun was a tragic waste of life on both sides.
Joffre should have been horsewhipped; Falkenhayne should have been shot.
The Germans called that offensive “Operation Gericht” - “Place of Execution” or something to that effect. Apt name, I’d say.
And then there’s the Brits - they lost 60,000 people on the first day of the Somme offensive. Charging sited, dug in Spandau and Maxim machine guns every thirty yards, tangle wire, craters, etc. They were destroyed coming out of the trench, “going over the top”...you have to wonder what those commanders were thinking sending men to be butchered like that.
My grandfather was a “Doughboy” in the Iron Division, otherwise known as the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry Division (the Bloody Bucket). He was in Meuse-Argonne and saw some heavy fighting there. Got pneumonia, and it plagued him for the rest of life till he died in 1935, from the flu.
RE French EOD Team: They’d have to, I guess - there were hundreds of thousands of artillery shells of all sizes lobbed into the area over the course of that battle. The ground had been turned into muck, and some of them just sank and did not explode.
One account I’d read said that the bodies that they’d manage to bury would be thrown up and uncovered from the shelling, so after a while, the French just left them in the open. The poilus were getting hit with pieces of the bodies - “beefsteaks”, they called them...grim humor.
Must have been a nightmare...an absolute, atrocious nightmare.
I highly recommend “The Myth of the Great War”, which is about the continued denial of high command stupidity by the British and (for a long while) the French. The propaganda about German casualty rates and losses being at a parity with that of the Allies is still believed and apparently still taught in British schools.
My Mother had an Uncle, my great uncle, Sgt. Herman Bremer, killed in action, and is buried in the US Military Cemetery at Bony. He was postumously awarded the Distinguised Service Cross, I have a copy of his citation at home.
The northeast of France today looks so peaceful and serene, it is hard to envision what it looked like 100 years ago. If you scan that area using google earth you can find military cemetery after militery cemetery.