Germans bleed the French at Verdun, but how long?

Foch IOTL was heavily criticised for his wasteful conduct at the Somme, but maybe ITTL his heroics would be played up in the light of the failure at Verdun. D'Esperey at the time was heading Army Group East, right? There wasn't much action there, and without many merits, he might not be considered for the position at the time. What do you think?
D'Espèrey, it turns out, was a staunch Catholic, which made him an unattractive option for the French government.

Foch's career likely depends on how the Somme goes, which will do better ITTL.
 
D'Espèrey, it turns out, was a staunch Catholic, which made him an unattractive option for the French government.

Foch's career likely depends on how the Somme goes, which will do better ITTL.
So, the more likely candidate is Foch then. What would him being in charge entail? Would he advocate for a strike similar to the Nivelle Offensive? Or what would be his approach?

Also, on the other side. The victory at Verdun would probably mean that Falkenhayn remains in charge of the German army. This, together with the elimination of the Verdun Salient (,which would free up some German divisions) might mean that the Germans wouldn't abandon the Noyon Salient, despite the loss of ground at the Somme. Or is this a false expectation?
 
That's precisely backwards, the whole point of the Somme was to take pressure off the French at Verdun.
No, it wasn't. The attack on the Somme was planned to go ahead anyway. With pressure mounting on Verdun relieving it became another objective for the operation.
 
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No, it wasn't. The attack on the Somme was planned to go ahead anyway. With pressure mounting on Verdun relieving it became another objective for the operation.
The original plan was for a French attack with some British support, much against the advice of the British Generals. They knew their army wasn't ready for a major offensive and believed that there was nothing of strategic value to be gained in what was poor ground for offensive operations. Once the attack on Verdun began the nature of the plan changed. The French contribution was progressively reduced until what had been a French battle with British support became a British battle with French support and the objectives had completely changed, so the battle as fought was conducted to relieve Verdun with the original objectives very much taking a back seat..
 
The original plan was for a French attack with some British support, much against the advice of the British Generals
Haig was quite willing to attack in Flanders.
They knew their army wasn't ready for a major offensive and believed that there was nothing of strategic value to be gained in what was poor ground for offensive operations.
Then how come the decision to attack along that front had already been made months ago?
so the battle as fought was conducted to relieve Verdun with the original objectives very much taking a back seat.
Without Verdun OTL Somme wouldn't exist, that doesn't mean an offensive along roughly the same area wouldn't happen in TTL.
 

NoMommsen

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Haig was quite willing to attack in Flanders.

Then how come the decision to attack along that front had already been made months ago?

Without Verdun OTL Somme wouldn't exist, that doesn't mean an offensive along roughly the same area wouldn't happen in TTL.
These offensives - including one at the Somme - for the spring (delayed) and then summer were agreed upon already December the year before at Chantilly and at the same place in march 1916.

... it's called the "Chantilly"-conferences 😉
 
Haig was quite willing to attack in Flanders.
Yes, preferably in Spring 1917. Failing that if they had to attack in 1916 Flanders actually offered the prospect of making strategic gains that would significantly benefit the British, mainly by seizing control of the high ground and opening up the possibility of clearing the Germans from the Channel coast.

Then how come the decision to attack along that front had already been made months ago?
Because the French were insistent, the British were the junior partner and Whitehall told the Generals to comply. The original plan would have been primarily carried out by experienced French troops with, potentially at least, a much heavier weight of artillery. As it was the British and Empire forces, which had expanded from 6 to 60 divisions with no tradition of conscription to create a pool of trained NCO's and officers to call upon, found itself taking the lead in a battle whose aims had been radically changed.

Without Verdun OTL Somme wouldn't exist, that doesn't mean an offensive along roughly the same area wouldn't happen in TTL.
Yes but by the time the OTL battle was launched the objectives had radically changed from the original plan. I was responding to the suggestion that without Verdun the French could take pressure off the British at the Somme, which made no sense as without Verdun there would have been a primarily French offensive on the Somme instead. OTL Verdun and the Somme were directly connected.
 
Losing Verdun is bad enough, maybe they take their chances and only withdraw behind the Meuse? If things are bad enough, maybe behind the Aisne?
Losing Verdun, especially in a way that makes it look like a recapture of the city is out of the question, is likely enough to break the morale of the French Army in late 1916/1917. Maybe it doesn't end the war immediately but the Germans taking such a prize without some other major victory elsewhere almost certainly sets a clock and/or becomes enough for Wilson to discourage private American investment in the Allied cause. A reckless offensive or major battle hastily organized as a response might be the linchpin in an Allied defeat in the West.
 
This might be totally out, but ....

If the German objective had been kept -> bleed France to accept some sort of peace by focusing on something the French government could not leave alone - Verdun, could we see that Germany would calculate that any ground lost in the East (e.g. Brusilov) could easily be gained again AFTER Verdun.

That would mean not transferring anything, but keep going at Vurdun.

Could it have been acceptable to take a serious hit at Somme?

The big prize would be to knock France out. If France is out, BEF must leave the continent?

France out is not a matter of conquering and occupying the whole of France. Just enough to make the French army mutiny (as they did later) and the government not able to sustain the losses at Verdun .

Is is BS?
 
If the German objective had been kept -> bleed France to accept some sort of peace by focusing on something the French government could not leave alone - Verdun, could we see that Germany would calculate that any ground lost in the East (e.g. Brusilov) could easily be gained again AFTER Verdun.
The French are not that stupid to bleed themselves completely white at Verdun. If holding the city becomes way too costly, they will abandon it. On the other hand, if we're talking about plausibility, then this scenario could happen only if the Germans keep ample reserves in the region. If the Brusilov Offensive goes like OTL, then that's not possible. Fortunately, there's a simple solution for this, which is that Austria-Hungary doesn't launch the Asiago Offensive against Italy and keeps its strategic reserve on the Eastern Front instead. Like this, the Austro-Hungarians would probably be able to halt the Russian attacks on their own, while the Germans could keep pursuing their objectives at Verdun.

Could it have been acceptable to take a serious hit at Somme?
The Battle of the Somme was already a large hit into the German guts IOTL, I don't think TTL would be much different. About the same amount of units could be diverted to the Somme as OTL, while the operations at Verdun could still go better, since the Brusilov Offensive would be checked by the Austro-Hungarians ITTL.

The big prize would be to knock France out. If France is out, BEF must leave the continent?
France wouldn't be out of the war, although the morale of its armies would be shaken to some extent. They would probably remain rather passive for a while.

France out is not a matter of conquering and occupying the whole of France. Just enough to make the French army mutiny (as they did later) and the government not able to sustain the losses at Verdun .
The mutinies only affected a portion of the French army, and even those affected units were ready to defend their homeland. They just simply refused to participate in wasteful offensives.
 
Thanks. There is one thing that is puzzling. The artillery on both sides.

It looks as though the deciding factor was the artillery. The German apparently had more heavy guns initially. How effective was this utilised then?

I am reading up on Verdun (always skipped it - too messy really - hence my ignorance)
 
Sorry, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer that. Maybe some other readers of the thread could provide some insight.
 
Verdun is key as one of the historic Three Bishoprics along with Toul and Metz, its loss would constitute a near total acquisition if former Holy Roman territory by a German government and push France back to boundaries not seen in perhaps 400+ years. While the French army may not bleed themselves white over Verdun, they will risk disproportionate casualties to keep the city. In addition the troops are alreqdy wondering whether the war is worth the cost if there are no real victories to show for yet so many are dead.
 
Verdun is key as one of the historic Three Bishoprics along with Toul and Metz, its loss would constitute a near total acquisition if former Holy Roman territory by a German government and push France back to boundaries not seen in perhaps 400+ years.
Most of the area surrounding Verdun became French only after the War of Polish Succession, which was then "only" ~178 years ago. Meanwhile the remaining parts of Lorraine and Franche-Comté would be still far from falling to the Germans. This is just semantics though.
While the French army may not bleed themselves white over Verdun, they will risk disproportionate casualties to keep the city.
I can see the French stubbornly holding onto the area until the end-phase of the Battle of the Somme in October-November, but not much further. They would probably give up the recapture of the surrounding heights earlier though, maybe around September. Following that, the French might do their own Operation Alberich ITTL and create strong defenses behind the former salient.
In addition the troops are alreqdy wondering whether the war is worth the cost if there are no real victories to show for yet so many are dead.
Victories or not, the Italian precedent makes me believe that the French would not give up just yet. Although, as I mentioned earlier, the troops would probably be unwilling to participate in wasteful offensives in the near future. The French would have to stay passive for a while, that's for sure, but what happens after would depend a lot on external factors as well.

For starters, what do you think, what might the (proposed) ITTL failure of the Brusilov Offensive entail?
 
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For starters, what do you think, what might the (proposed) ITTL failure of the Brusilov Offensive entail?
Interestingly, I've been toying with a "No Brusilov Offensive" idea, but I think a failed Brusilov scenario would be at least somewhat similar.

I think in the long run it may benefit Russia, as they won't overextend themselves. The amount of casulaties they sustain should be considered, however.
 
I think in the long run it may benefit Russia, as they won't overextend themselves.
The Russian overextension was mostly due to the enormous casualties sustained during the offensive and due to the Romanian quick defeat upon their entry to the war. While the Romanian entry would be less likely ITTL, the first reason would apply even moreso than IOTL, but these are the lesser problems. Without the utter failure of OTL, the Austro-Hungarian Army would remain a potent foe on the battlefield, which would also experience some rise in morale after their recent victory. Needless to say, the Russian army, but also the homefront would experience the exact opposite of that.

Now, the question is wether this would lead to earlier revolution in Russia or not? Also, what would be the Russian approach to the war once the Provisional Government is set up? Would they choose to fight on like IOTL? Or would the French and their own defeats make them pursue a different path?

What do you think?
 
Let's talk about the West too. With the success at Verdun, Falkenhayn would probably remain the German Chief-of-Staff for the time being. The question is, how would this influence Germany's and by extension the Central Powers' actions in the following years?

There are some key questions here: Would Germany still build and retreat to the "Hindenburg" line? How would the German war production look like without the Hindenburg Program? How severe would be the Turnip Winter without the Hindenburg Program? Would Germany still reintroduce unlimited submarine warfare? What about the Anglo-French perspective?

Before we can proceed, atleast some of these questions would be needed to be answered, I believe.
 
Falkenhayn would probably push for Hoffmann as General-Quartmaster instead of Ludendorff. Those two were more sane, so no Hindenburg Program or ASW. This alone changes the flow of war massively.
 
Falkenhayn would probably push for Hoffmann as General-Quartmaster instead of Ludendorff. Those two were more sane, so no Hindenburg Program or ASW. This alone changes the flow of war massively.
I'm not sure how that would work out, considering Hoffmann was very much part of the Ober Ost clique, led by Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
 
Most of the area surrounding Verdun became French only after the War of Polish Succession, which was then "only" ~178 years ago. Meanwhile the remaining parts of Lorraine and Franche-Comté would be still far from falling to the Germans. This is just semantics though.

I can see the French stubbornly holding onto the area until the end-phase of the Battle of the Somme in October-November, but not much further. They would probably give up the recapture of the surrounding heights earlier though, maybe around September. Following that, the French might do their own Operation Alberich ITTL and create strong defenses behind the former salient.

Victories or not, the Italian precedent makes me believe that the French would not give up just yet. Although, as I mentioned earlier, the troops would probably be unwilling to participate in wasteful offensives in the near future. The French would have to stay passive for a while, that's for sure, but what happens after would depend a lot on external factors as well.

For starters, what do you think, what might the (proposed) ITTL failure of the Brusilov Offensive entail?
Failure of the Brusilov Offensive means Germany reinforces both the Austrians in Italy more than OTL such that Venice could be endangered and the Western Front enough to consider additional offensives. It also puts the Eastern Front in late 1916 ATL where it was early 1917 OTL and may accelerate the Russian Revolution if not a Brest-Litovsk equivalent - could the Allies withstand the 1918 Spring offensive if it had occured 6 months earlier?
 
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