- "Bodies everywhere ...just like Verdun... God."
- ―Indiana Jones, after investigating a U-boat in 1939[src]
The Battle of Verdun was a major battle of World War I, fought from February to October 1916 between France and Germany near Verdun, in northeast France. A key objective of the battle was control over Fort Douaumont, a French fort, which the Germans took early in the battle.
Adventures in the Battle of Verdun[edit | edit source]
The battle had already been going for several months when Indiana Jones, serving as Corporal Henri Defense, was assigned to be a motorcycle courier between the 2nd Army Headquarters in Souilly, and the front lines in Verdun. By this time, General Robert Nivelle had been given command of France's 2nd Army, assisted by General Charles Mangin. Verdun's defenses were formerly commanded by General Henri Philippe Pétain, who had been promoted to sector commander by commander-in-chief General Joseph Joffre.
On Jones' first mission, he brought orders to Colonel Barc at the Battalion Headquarters, to start a another attack on Fort Douaumont. With the phone lines down to the front, Jones volunteered to relay the orders to Major Gaston in the trenches. As the soldiers scrambled to prepare for the attack, a French soldier handed over his box of possessions to Jones, to give to his wife, Nicole, while another soldier prayed with his rosary. After Gaston blew the whistle, soldiers climbed out of the trenches to charge across no man's land, but were decimated by German machine guns. Jones watched in horror as the soldier who had prayed fell lifelessly back into the trenches, with his rosary still in his hands. After the futile attack, Jones received the casualty report from Gaston to take back to command. Hearing a wounded soldier still lying in the no man's land, Jones bravely ran out and brought the man back to the trenches, then returned to Souilly with the casualty report.
In Souilly, Jones delivered the casualty report of 600 dead to Major Marat, who delivered to news to Nivelle, while Jones ate dinner with his fellow couriers, Alex, Claude, and Rocco. Jones recounted how he had met Remy Baudouin in the Mexican Revolution, and then how they enlisted in London. His fellow couriers and Jean-Marc explained to him, using pieces of their meal, how Europe's system of alliances had lead the continent into war. Meanwhile Pétain and Nivelle got into an argument over the failure in the day's battle.
The next day, Jones went to the Verdun military hospital to visit Remy Baudouin. As he arrived, Baudouin was acting deliriously, causing the nurse to get him restrained. Jones calmed down his recuperating friend, and brought him some German cigarettes. Under questions, Baudouin confessed that he was lying about the surgeons having left the bullet in him, in order to avoid returning to the trenches. Jones reminded him that shirking his duty would bring a death sentence. As he was leaving, the nurse told Jones that Baudouin would be sent back to the front on the next day.
On a delivery assignment, Jones and his motorcycle were spotted by a German biplane, which began chasing him. Jones eluded the machine guns, and was nearly hit by a bomb dropped by the pilot. Getting back on his motorbike, Jones reached the artillery base, and chatted with a French gunnery sergeant about artillery units, including the German Big Bertha. Back in Souilly, Jones walked in as Barc and Gaston were seeking a German-speaking volunteer. Thinking that they needed an interpreter, Jones volunteered, only to learn in a briefing that he was being sent across to the German lines to listen in on their command bunker. At the trenches, Gaston helped him into no man's land and Jones ran across in the night. On the way, Jones encountered a wounded French soldier and promised to return for him. At the German command bunker, Jones listened to captains Oetzmann and Lehmann drink tea and joke about women. Bored by the unimportant talk, Jones fell asleep. One of the Germans heard his snoring and sent a corporal to investigate. Jones awoke to overhear that the Germans were planning on bringing in two Big Bertha howitzers the next day. Starting to flee, Jones attacked the German guard sent to find him, and lobbed a grenade, which ignited a store of dynamite and ammunition. Jones escaped back into no man's land under fire. Reaching the wounded soldier, he discovered that the soldier was dead, and a German soldier that had pretended to be dead attacked him. Losing his knife to Jones, the soldier lunged at Jones, and died on his own blade. Reaching the French side, Jones was pulled back to the trenches by Gaston, and they reported to Barc what Jones had learned.
The next morning, Barc and Jones reported directly to Nivelle and Pétain, with the former disbelieving the report and ordering Barc back to the front to attack Fort Douaumont again. Outside the headquarters chateau, Jones encountered a large column of troops marching out, and ran into Baudouin, and wished him well. Pétain, having ordered some aerial reconaissance that confirmed the presence of the two Big Berthas, realized the slaughter that would ensue if the attack were allowed. Summoning Marat, Pétain signed a new order to call off the attack, and it was dispatched to Rocco. As the courier left, General Joffre arrived, and re-authorized the attack, needing a victory to satisfy the politicians. Calling Barc, he ordered the attack begin again, but Barc reminded the general that a written order could only be changed by another written order. Joffre quickly wrote a new order, and Jones was chosen to deliver it to the front. As Jones sped through the countryside, he realized that certain death would happen to the men at the front if the order was delivered. As he passed through the town, he reached a crater. Putting the orders into his gas tank, he lit his motorbike and fled. With the orders destroyed with no witnesses, the French troops were spared the destruction that could have been caused by Big Bertha.
Later, Jones learned that Nivelle eventually did retake Fort Douaumont.
While flying on a plane in the 1990s, Jones recounted his adventure at Verdun to an acquisition specialist, who fell asleep.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "Verdun, September 1916" → Demons of Deception
- Verdun, September 1916 comic
- Field of Death
- The Peril of the Fort
- The Day of Destiny
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "Paris, May 1919" → Winds of Change (Mentioned only)
- Indiana Jones and the Sargasso Pirates (Mentioned only)
Sources[edit | edit source]
- The Battle of Verdun (Non-fiction source)
- The World of Indiana Jones
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- Into the Furnace - The Battle of Verdun (Non-fiction source)