Fort Vaux, Verdun 1916

This game was a rare piece of craziness: an underground WW1 battle. With possibly more in common with the Mines of Moria than your standard Western Front scenario, I visited the Fort de Vaux in Verdun, collected plans and reference photos, then ended up making a 7′ long scale model for 28mm figures. For the centenary of the battle, we took the fort to various UK shows and also Crisis in Belgium, running a fast-playing participation game that told the story of the siege in forty minutes.

The game was based on the ’fight between moles’ that took place in the German attack in Fort Vaux during the notorious 1916 Battle of Verdun. Having broken in to the bunkers defending the ditch of the fort, the Germans attacked up the tunnels using rifles, grenades and flamethrowers, where the French defenders had built barricades to hold them off. Despite losing ground, the French held off the Germans for four days before being forced to surrender due to lack of water.  The stalwart fort commandant, Major Raynal, became an instant national hero.

Major Raynal in miniature and real life. The major is a Woodbine Designs French officer, his dog from Warbases.

The French rush down the main corridor to defend their positions. Figures by Woodbine, Brigade Games and Renegade Miniatures.

Outside the fort: although the model was effectively a cut-away ‘dungeon floor plan’, I decided to model a few of the outside features such as the damaged 75mm gun turret, observation cupola and side bunkers.

A German storming party goes into action. Figures by Great War Miniatures.

Scenes from Fort Vaux when we visited in July 2015. The old fort is still full of atmosphere and it is easy to imagine the claustrophobic siege of 1916.

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