“Verdun… is still considered by military historians as the most demanding and lengthiest engagement of any conflict”
Though the details are sketchy, we’re told that Yves Goasdoue fought at Verdun for the entire campaign during World War 1. Family legend has it that here he endured gas attacks which weakened his lungs and made him so susceptible to the disease that eventually killed him (TB). It was also here that he earned a Croix de Guere.
“You can’t understand France without understanding Verdun. It is a place of identity, of ‘France-ness’. In the eyes of French soldiers, the battle was a defence of their women, wives, children, religion, and their French soil. There was no battle before, and no battle after, which was so important in the French memory.”
Historian Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau
The newly refurbished museum has been completely re-visioned – it now contains a replica of the battlefield as the central exhibit, allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of a French soldier heading to the front, and focuses on the lives of ordinary men as well as the bigger picture.
It sounds like it will definitely be worth a visit if you’re considering a trip to France. And if you do, please let me know as they have a Documentation Centre on site and I would love to find out more about the circumstances of Yves’ award.
Mémorial de Verdun, 1 avenue du Corps Européen, Verdun 55100
(PS the museum has a website but only in French at the moment)