Fort Vaux, in Vaux-Devant-Damloup, Meuse, France was built from 1881–1884 for 1,500,000 Francs and housed a garrison of 150 men. Vaux was the second Fort to fall in the Battle of Verdun after Fort Douaumont which was captured by a small German raiding party in February 1916, in the confusion of the French retreat from the Woëvre plain. Vaux had been modernised before 1914 with reinforced concrete top protection like Fort Douaumont and was not destroyed by a German heavy artillery-fire which had included shelling by 16-inch howitzers. The superstructure of the fort was badly damaged but the garrison, the deep interior corridors and stations remained intact when the fort was attacked on June 2 by German assault troops.
The defence 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 repulsed German assaults, including fighting underground from barricades inside the corridors, during the first big engagement inside a fort during World War I. The last men of the French garrison gave up after running out of water , ammunition, medical supplies and food. Raynal sent several messages via homing pigeons , requesting relief for his soldiers. During his last communications, Major Raynal wrote "This is my last pigeon".
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