Fort Vaux
Fort Vaux, located in Vaux-Devant-Damloup, Meuse, France, became the second Fort to fall in the Battle of Verdun. The first fort to fall had been Fort Douaumont. The defense of Fort Vaux was marked by the heroism and endurance of the garrison, including Major Sylvain-Eugene Raynal. Under his command, the besieged French garrison fended off numerous assaults and shelling from opposition, including underground combat from barricades inside the invaded corridors of the fort (which was the first french force to host a fight inside a bunker or fort). What was left of the French garrison finally gave up after it had completely run out of drinkable water (the Germans had poisoned the water), ammunition, medical care and food. Raynal encouraged his men by saying "on ne vas pas se rendre si facilement!" (we will not surrender so easily); he had also sent several messages to his commanding officers via homing pigeons (including the famous Vailant), requesting relief for his soldiers. During his last communications, Major Raynal penned the phrase "This is my last pigeon." Upon the eventual capture of Fort Vaux, the Crown Prince of the German ruling family, the Hohenzollerns, presented Major Raynal with his sword as a sign of respect, and the captured soldiers were allowed to leave. Fort de Vaux had multiple tunnels to other forts in surrounding regions, though the Germans had shelled the area heavily enough to collapse them. The fort was recaptured by French troops in November 1916. The French did not fortify the fort after its recapture, nor did they try to repair it, with the exception of a couple of minor repairs. The damage can still be seen today, though the interior fortifications have been rebuilt for visitors.