Orchard Dump
Webmatters : The Battle of Verdun 1916 : Fleury-devant-Douaumont

The Battlefield


The village is located at the key point of the Verdun battlefield.

Clearly sign posted from all directions the two major routes from Verdun are via the D 112 which brings you directly up through the forest to the Memorial Museum or, alternatively by remaining on the D 630 and turning left on to the D 913 (which passes by the route leading to Fort Vaux).

The remains of Fleury can be found just after the Memorial Museum — which is built on the site of the former railway station.

Decimal49.197775.42769 Map

Taken and retaken

Fleury-devant-Douaumont is one of nine villages that were not rebuilt after the war. The ground is still so full of ammunition, metal and other objects that it was not possible to consider coming back to them.

The village suffered most during the last of the major offensives by the Germans between 21 June and 12 July 1916.

The German High Command had by then conceived the intention of pushing on past Thiaumont, through Fleury, on towards Fort Souville and hence into Verdun.

The village of Fleury formed a key strategic point and in the course of terrible fighting changed hands sixteen times. The distance between the two front lines was negligible and both sides suffered heavy casualties.

If Fleury could be captured it offered an important advantage to the Germans as it was situated at the head of a ravine leading down towards Verdun, between the forts of Froideterre to the north and Souville to the south. With Fort Vaux captured in early June 1916 the Germans had come to believe that rather than just bleeding France to death there was, now, an actual chance of capturing the gate to Paris.

The final major offensives by the Germans pushed on towards the former Chapel of Sainte Fine (Where today you will see the wounded lion memorial) and reached Fort Souville.

That was as far as the German Army ever advanced towards Verdun. Their tenure of the village of Fleury was to last just over a month when French troops recaptured the village on 18 August 1916.

Here was Fleury, destroyed in 1916

Ici fut Fleury

The village sign records that This was Fleury. Fleury had been erased from the face of the earth.

Nothing remains

Fleury's memorial chapel

The Chapelle Notre Dame de l’Europe

From the car park at the Memorial Museum it is a short walk along the former lanes of Fleury to the memorial chapel.

Pillars mark the location of buildings

A Farm

Along the way short pillars mark out what each building represented.

As a village of 400 inhabitants it would have been a fair size. Today, all that remains are the recreated footpaths and trees.

Like the other destroyed villages Fleury still legally exists and has a mayor, appointed by the State. His job is to ensure that any work that needs doing on the site is carried out. They also form a body that continues to educate visitors.

Nothing is left

Only the battered soil reminds you that this area was anything but peaceful