Here's What May Have Helped Turn The Tide In The Battle Of Verdun

World War One was one of the most brutal conflicts in human history. The sheer scale of the carnage, the ultimate futility of battles as great swathes of land were won, lost and reclaimed again — humanity had never seen anything like it before.

As Britannica reports, the Battle of Verdun was among the most devastating engagements of the war, a protracted and bloody battle that lasted almost the entirety of 1916, from February 21 to December 18. It was fought between the French army, defending the French city of Verdun, and the invading German army. The German commanders believed that victory in France would be the key to the whole war, and set about making the Battle of Verdun a painstaking war of attrition.

The French were under tremendous pressure, as crucial railway lines were under constant bombardment. If the citadel of Verdun was claimed by Germany, it would have devastated the French, shaking the Allied Powers. The German forces made steady gains, but were finally repelled when they found themselves on the brink of victory. Why? An arguably even more devastating battle was to be fought elsewhere.

The Germans were forced to divert resources from Verdun

According to History, the French were close to destruction, facing relentless brutal artillery barrages and their foes' domination of the air. They were able to counter German aerial superiority by creating some of the first fighter squadrons. This was one factor that helped the French army recover and ultimately prevail, but the Battle of the Somme had perhaps a greater influence on the reversal of fortunes at Verdun.

The Allies' historic and costly offensive on the Somme, partly to save the French from annihilation, began at the start of July that year. In another posting, History reports that a total of over one million soldiers were killed before the battle wound down in mid November. It was another vicious campaign of trench warfare that saw enormous loss of life for precious little gain; by the end, the Allies had claimed just seven miles. Nevertheless, it may have been pivotal to the French recovery and ferocious counterattack at Verdun. The furious fighting at the Somme, in tandem with heavy losses suffered by Germany's Austro-Hungarian allies on the Eastern Front, ensured that the German army had to continuously divert manpower and resources away from Verdun, applied to other battlegrounds.

Both sides were spread thinly, but in this case, the French were able to capitalize and force their opponents back. If the Battle of the Somme hadn't been raging simultaneously, in all likelihood, Verdun would have ended very differently.