Book Review
Verdun 1916
Combat: French Soldier versus German Soldier, Verdun 1916
  • move

by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

This is a review by Randy L Harvey of Combat: French Soldier versus German Soldier, Verdun 1916 by author David Campbell and illustrator Adam Hook.


** On 21 February 1916, the German Army launched a major attack on the French fortress of Verdun. The Germans were confident that the ensuing conflict would compel France to expend its strategic reserves in a savage attritional battle, thereby wearing down Allied fighting power on the Western Front. However, initial German successes in capturing key early objectives such as Fort Douaumont were swiftly stemmed by the French defences, despite heavy French casualties. The Germans then expanded their attack, but made slow progress towards their goals; by July, the battle had become a stalemate. At Verdun, the two sides’ foot soldiers faced appalling conditions; their training, equipment and doctrine would be tested to the limit and beyond. New technologies, including flamethrowers, hand grenades and trench mortars, would play a key role in the hands of specialist troops, while innovations in assault tactics were employed to overcome the difficulties of trench warfare. This study outlines the two sides’ wider approach to the evolving battle, before assessing the preparations and combat record of the French and German fighting men who confronted one another during three pivotal moments of the grueling campaign for Verdun. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publishing has released French Soldier versus German Soldier, Verdun 1916 as Number 47 in their Combat series. It is a soft cover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black-and-white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations with accompanying black-and-white illustrations, detailed captions and more. It has a 2020 copyright, a publication date of March 19, 2020 and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-3817-9. Providing insights into the realities of front-line combat and using innovative split-screen artwork, expert analysis combined with gripping first-hand accounts and strategic and tactical maps the book details three pivotal moments between the French and German militaries facing each other at Verdun in 1916.

    - Introduction
    - The Opposing Sides
    - Origins
    - Recruitment and training
    - Morale and logistics
    - Tactics and weapons
    - Communications
    - Leadership
    - Bois Des Caures, 21-22 February 1916
    - Mort-Homme, 9 April 1916
    -Fort Vaux, 2-7 June 1916
    - Analysis
    - Bois Des Caures
    - Mort-Homme
    - Fort Vaux
    - Aftermath
    - Unit Organizations
    - Bibliography
    - Index


Author David Campbell covers three pivotal moments between the French and German militaries facing each other during three pivotal battles of the ten-and-a-half-month-long struggle for Verdun in 1916. Detailed are the battles at Bois Des Caures on February 21 and 22, 1916, Mort Homme on April 9, 1916 and Fort Vaux from June 2nd through June 7th, 1916. David Campbell gives a step-by-step narration of each of the battles which, with the accompanying maps, helps place the reader at the battles and makes it easy for the reader to understand what took place and why. As well as providing information on the three separate battles David Campbell details training and organization of the military units, weapons and equipment used by both sides as well as the fighting techniques of the combatants and their successes and failures. Along with his own words David Campbell has also provided several quotes and first-hand accounts from key individuals providing specific details and pertinent information in regards to the fighting from both the Germans and the French. Also provided are details of battlefield conditions and weather, conditions within the forts, conditions during the fighting and how it affected the soldiers and the outcome of the fighting, and other such details which provides a feeling of what the men were putting up with during the fighting to help the reader understand what took place from the overall picture down to the most minute details. The battles are all discussed from prior to the fighting, to the actions taken during the fighting and the actions and end results after the fighting had ceased.

The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the battles for Verdun at Bois Des Caures, Mort Homme and Fort Vaux in 1916 to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.


A total of 44 black-and-white photographs and 7 color photographs are included in this volume. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed periods of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are over one hundred years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. Author David Campbell stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to anyone interested in the French military, German military and World War One as well as the uniforms, weapons and warfare of the period due to the details they contain.


There are 4 color illustrations and 2 accompanying black-and-white illustrations by illustrator Adam Hook. Two of the color illustrations are accompanied by a black-and-white copy of the same illustration that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

Plate A

Chasseur, 56e BCP – Bois des Caures, 22 February 1916
(see attached scan)

- Two-page front and back illustrations of a French soldier with a well written caption that details French weapons, dress, and equipment of the period.

Plate B

Assault trooper, Infanterie-Regiment 87 – Bois des Caures, 22 February 1916
(see attached scan)

- Two-page front and back illustrations of a German soldier with a well written caption that details German weapons, dress, and equipment of the period.

Plate C

Flamethrower assault at Mort-Homme

- A two-page action double scene depicting the German assault across the whole Verdun sector by German troops of the Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 23 supported by Pioniere and specialist flamethrower teams from the III. Garde-Pionier-Battallion using rifles, grenades and a flamethrower in the attack. Defending the French heights are the chasseurs of the 8e BCP armed with rifles and a CSRG Chauchat M1915 automatic rifle. The two-page illustration provides the view from the German point-of-view and the French point-of-view. On the following page there are detailed captions, which accompany two black-and-white copies of the same colored illustrations, with informative captions detailing what is taking place in the two scenes.

Plate D

Firefight in the western tunnel of Fort Vaux, 4 June 1916

- A two-page action illustration depicting Germans of Pionier-Bataillon 27, led by Offizierstellvertreter Schmidt, armed with rifles and grenades attacking French soldiers of 142e RI, led by Lieutenant Girard, armed with rifles, grenades and a Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun in the western tunnel of Fort Vaux. On the following page is an informative caption detailing what is taking place.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.


The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to the specific individuals shown, types of clothing worn, weapons, equipment carried and used, dates and locations and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by David Campbell’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions that I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail.


There are 3 color maps included in this volume and they are of:

- Verdun, 21 February 1916 – a detailed map and map key showing French and German positions and the locations of the front lines on February 21, February 24 and April 9, 1916.
- Attack on the Bois des Caures, 21-22 February 1916 – detailed map and map key showing French and German positions during the attack with five specific points of interest detailed.
- The struggle for Mort-Homme, 9 April 1916 – detailed map and map key showing French and German positions during the fighting with five specific points of interest detailed.


There are 2 individual profiles included in this volume and they provide information on:

- Édouard de Castelnau, the French general that organized the initial defense at the Battle of Verdun.
- Konstan Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, the Prussian general forever linked to Verdun, where he pushed for victory at all costs.


There are 2 notes included in this volume and they are:

- Acknowledgements
- Artist’s Note


There are 2 informational charts included in this volume and they are of:

- Key to military symbols and unit identification
- Comparative ranks between the United States, French and German militaries


There is 1 informational diagram included in this volume and it is of:

- A diagram of the German assault on Fort Vaux, from the 2nd through the 7th of June in 1916.


David Campbell has worked as a freelance new media producer and content specialist for many years, including roles at IBM, the BBC, various internet consultancies and the civil service. He has a broad range of interests in literature and history, including the Middle Ages, the Napoleonic era, naval warfare, and the genesis of the ‘military revolution’. He is the author of CBT 007 German Infantryman vs Soviet Rifleman.


Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical reconstructions, and has illustrated Osprey titles on subjects as diverse as the Aztecs, the Ancient Greeks, Roman battle tactics, several 19th-century American subjects, the modern Chinese Army, and a number of books in the Fortress series. His work features in exhibitions and publications throughout the world.

As with the other Osprey Publishing titles I was impressed with this book. This is a very nice reference book that contains a well written informative text, many subject specific photographs and illustrations, well detailed captions and more, all detailing three pivotal moments between the French and German militaries facing each other at Verdun in 1916. As with the other Osprey Publishing titles, I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal reference library.

Osprey Publishing also offers Combat: French Soldier versus German Soldier, Verdun 1916 as:

eBook (ePub) ISBN: 978-1-4728-3816-2


eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4728-3818-6

Osprey Publishing's, Combat: French Soldier versus German Soldier, Verdun 1916 is also available as a Kindle version through Amazon.


German Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918
Robert Kirchubel & Ramiro Bujeiro
Concord Publications Company

Sturmtruppen – The Kaiser’s Elite Stormtroopers
Tankograd – World War One No. 1002
Imperial German Army Weapons and Soldiers of The Great War 1914-1918
Oliver Richter (with Jochen Vollert Collection)

Grabenkrieg German Trench Warfare Vol. 1
Tankograd – World War One No. 1005
Imperial German Army Weapons and Soldiers of The Great War 1914-1918
Oliver Richter (with Jochen Vollert Collection)

Grabenkrieg German Trench Warfare Vol. 2
Tankograd – World War One No. 1006
Imperial German Army Weapons and Soldiers of The Great War 1914-1918
Oliver Richter (with Jochen Vollert Collection)

The World War One Source Book
Philip J. Haythornthwaite
Arms and Armour

Arms and Uniforms The First World War Part 1
Liliane and Fred Funcken
Ward Lock Limited – London

The Usborne Introduction To The First World War
Ruth Brocklehurst & Henry Brook
Scholastic Inc.

The American Heritage History of World War I
Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall
American Heritage/Bonanza Books

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase. Thank you.


UK £13.99 / US $22.00 / CAN $30.00
Highs: Well written text and captions. Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: An excellent volume by Osprey Publishing. Definitely beneficial to the World War One and French and German militaries enthusiast and historian and the scale figure modeler.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Combat 47
  PUBLISHED: Apr 11, 2020

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View This Item  |  View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


Thank you for getting this posted so quickly for me Fred, I appreciate it. Thanks, Randy
APR 11, 2020 - 05:21 AM
A fascinating and chilling battle that is so little discussed or properly understood in the West; it is almost a case that because it involved "only" the French & German forces the English-speaking West knows little of what happened in the horrific slaughter house that was Verdun; where both sides sought to wear-down and destroy the other through sheer bloody-minded attrition. Bad idea, that, in that both sides bled themselves white for virtually nothing strategic beyond battle casualties and fatigue. And a fortress complex that was largely hammered flat. Not that -in my opinion- most of the other infamous battles could claim much else.
APR 12, 2020 - 09:12 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move