Le rôle de l'arme du Génie pendant la bataille de Verdun (février 1916 - août 1917)

Abstract : Historiography of the first world war is largely supported by an abundant bibliography in which it is very difficult to find documents or studies relative to the role of the Engineer during the conflict. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that, in the battle for Verdun, from February 1916 to August 1917, the Engineer is, despite a strength which was undeniably very weak, an essential agent in the Victory. It is present at all levels of the supply chain, decisional as well as executional, which feeds this tremendous defensive battle. It is also an indispensable actor in the organization of the battlefield which is one of the key elements of success in the engagements in this limited field of operations, in which hundred of thousands of soldiers fight under a constant storm of fire. Finally, it ensures the continuity of the operational command by maintaining all communication lines of the battlefield (paths, roads, bridges, railways, telephone lines, optic communications, etc.). In order to be efficient in the entire spectrum of its missions, the Engineer has to adapt to orders and conditions of engagements for which he is not initially prepared. The commanders spread out the engineers’ capacities for an immediate though reduced efficiency, to the detriment of the more effective collective tasks, which require a longer time frame often incompatible with the rythm of operations. Despite a permanent engagement, for and alongside the other branches, the Engineer is too diluted to gain the attention of the Commandment, be formally acknowledged and be engraved in the Memory of the Nation as are the thousands of « Poilus » rushing towards the Enemy through a hail of machine-gun bullets and shellfire.
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Jacques Defretin. Le rôle de l'arme du Génie pendant la bataille de Verdun (février 1916 - août 1917). Histoire. Université de Lorraine, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014LORR0371⟩. ⟨tel-01754454⟩

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