|German Troops Atop Fort Vaux, June 1916|
|Outside the Fort Today|
Nonetheless, it took the four battalions committed to the attack a week to fulfill their mission, taking over 2,700 casualties. Despite getting inside the fort through a weak spot at the latrines and getting into its passageways, where war was waged with gas, flamethrower, and grenade, the immediate cause of the surrender was the lack of water for the defenders.
Fort Vaux's loss was a morale blow for the French, and it allowed the Germans to proceed with their advance on the next major obstacle on their left, Fort Souville.
The siege of Fort Vaux, however, provided a notable addition to France's pantheon of war heroes. Major Sylvain Eugène Raynal was already twice wounded in the war when he volunteered for a command position in the Verdun fortress zone. Arriving at Fort Vaux on 21 May 1916, he proved an industrious and inspiring leader for his troops. When he surrendered he informed his captors that it was only thirst that had defeated his troops. The Crown Prince later personally congratulated him on his leadership of the defense of the fort.
|Major Raynal and an Aide in Custody after the Surrender|
Thanks to regular contributor Steve Miller and several of my traveling mates for the photos here