Film: 7605

War + Military | 1910 | Silent | B/W


A News item covering the aftermath of the Battle of Verdun World War One (1916) and showing damage to the town and surrounding countryside of Verdun, France in the aftermath of the World War One battle. French heavy artillery fire on unseen targets.

Opens with a pan across a varied terrace of four and five storey damaged buildings on what is probably now the Quai de Londres, on the west bank of the River Meuse, Verdun, France, with the twin towers of Verdun Cathedral in the background: there are some gaps where houses have been demolished, probably as the result of a direct hit by a shell; most of the neighbouring houses seem to be structurally intact but have suffered blast damage and have smashed balconies and windows.
07.20 Inter title: 2 “Glorious Wounds of the Town”. Pan of damaged buildings on a tree lined (trees in leaf) west bank of the River Meuse, Verdun, France, along probably what is today the Quai de Londres, from about what is today the Rue Edmond Robin to a bridge with at least three arches, probably the Pont Chausee, with a crenelated tower at the western end of the bridge, probably the Porte Chaussée: a spire is visible in the background – probably the Chapelle du Collége.

A party of well-dressed apparently middle aged men and women in overcoats and hats visit a number of sites. About six people ascend a gentle slope past gardens and buildings in the background in single file. 31.00 Apparently the same party of about 20 people are examining the grand room of a damaged building, the women have feathered hats. About eight members of the party are seen entering a large arched double door in a building in single file, the door is damaged and the building is pockmarked by shell splinters and has holes in the walls. 40.00 The party are inside a large roofless stone building or courtyard. They are seen entering a large stone building through a doorway which is later identified in the film as the Cathedral. A group of about 16 men with hats and overcoats, many carrying walking sticks, walk down a narrow street lined with relatively undamaged three and four storey houses. Two French soldiers in greatcoats and metal helmets are walking through a bomb damaged street, one is prominently carrying a porcelain vase, and the other glances at a piece of paper which he then puts in his jacket pocket. View apparently from a balcony across the roof scape of a shell damaged town with a prominent tower in the middle distance.
Inter title 3 “The Cathedral”. Men, some in uniform, are seen exiting the Cathedral while the camera pans left to show the road and two cars parked outside. Interior of the Cathedral heavily shows it to be heavily damaged and apparently without a roof, the camera follows a group of four Officers and a two civilians as they walk down a path cleared through rubble in the nave surveying the damage.
Inter title 4 “Ruins near the Ramparts”. Camera pans slowly from right to left across skeletons of shattered building. Pan continues along a street lined with heavily damaged buildings, two men walk down the road which has been cleared of debris. Pan continues along same street showing extensive damage to buildings, one of which is a workshop or factory. The right to left pan continues, to an emplacement in the foreground with the gun covered by a tarpaulin, damaged buildings beyond, and an emplacement manned by two French Soldiers in helmets, but without equipment, one standing, casually looking into the distance, their gun is covered by a loose tarpaulin.
Inter title 5 ‘In the Surrounding Country of Verdun”. Flooded fields with hedge lines in the water. View of the bank from a boat passing down a river, damaged houses line the bank. More substantial riverside houses structurally intact, but many without windows.
Inter title 6 “The Caures, Beaumont, and Fosses woods”. [Scene of a major assault by German troops on February 26th 1916]. 180o Pan across an extensive barren landscape of cratered earth, wire entanglements and the stumps of trees. Apparently the same area with a catwalk spanning a trench through which French soldiers pass.
Inter Title 7 ““The village untitled: “Brass” (sic)”. Pan across the shells of ruined stone-built houses of which only low walls and the occasional chimney remain, in mid-shot a large shed or barn is apparently intact. Pan continues, in the distance one house appears to be less damaged than the rest. A doorway, window and a fragment of wall marks the site of building. Pan across a road and broken buildings with a bare hill with trench systems in the background, a French Soldier looks towards the higher ground through field binoculars, pan continues to reveal more damaged houses in what appears to be the centre of the village, with smoke rising from what may be a field kitchen parked near an intact wall, someone on a bike is seen briefly passing down a road.
Inter Title 8 “On the Mort Homme, The Kronprinz Tunnel”. Three French Soldiers are seen entering a tunnel entrance in the side of a trench which has been shattered by shellfire, abandoned equipment litters the trench. From the same place, but looking towards no-mans land, two shells explode in puffs of white smoke. The trench system and the landscape beyond. [These shots help to date this film: the Kronprinz tunnel was captured by the French 81st Infantry Regiment on the 20th August 1917].
Inter title 9 “On the fiting (sic) line of Verdun: French Artillery in Action”. Helmeted French troops tend a heavy howitzer; the gun is fired and the breech opened to vent smoke, a clamp is placed over a shell and lifted by a hand operated crane to be swung across to the open breech. A heavy howitzer fires from a camouflaged emplacement, while in the background two soldiers wheel a small dolly with two more shells down a path towards the gun. Two shells explode on the skyline, but probably of a smaller calibre than the gun fired. A battery of three well concealed guns, possibly Schneider 152 mm (6.0 in) howitzers, repeatedly fire a barrage in sequence.

Ends 5.56

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