[Depicted in Demons of Deception, the 9th episode from the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, produced by George Lucas - released in 1999 - it’s original edit is from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; Episode: Verdun, September 1916 - released in 1992]
By the following month, Indiana had escaped the grasps of the German Army and was granted the opportunity to return home by the American Embassy, yet he decides to stay in Europe and become a courier for a division of the French Army stationed near Verdun.
When he arrives there is already dissension amongst the French generals, who can not agree on a strategy for reclaiming Fort Douaumont that the Germans had previously captured. Generals Robert Nivelle and Charles Mangin are in favor of a frontal assault, however their superior General Henri Philippe Pétain doesn’t approve considering his troops are both undersupplied and outnumbered. Pétain however is overruled by French Commander-In-Chief General Joseph Joffre, who is under great political pressure to find a quick resolution to the war.
Indiana was then summoned to the front lines to deliver the attack orders, however, due to downed communication lines the timing of the offense is compromised. As a result the troops on the ground didn’t have the cover fire they expected, thus when they advanced they were slaughtered by German machine guns, losing 600 men
without gaining any ground to show for it.
That evening Indiana reports back to the commanding officers, who to his surprise are dining under elegant surroundings, leaving Indy disgusted and questioning the purpose of the war altogether.
The next day, Indiana learns that his friend Remy had been wounded on the battlefield, and he goes to visit him at a nearby hospital. Remy confides in Indiana that he has no interest on returning to the front lines, yet Indy warns his good friend that his refusal may result in the firing squad.
Later on Indiana is en route to the front lines to deliver another message when he’s attacked by a German bi-plane, whereas the impact of the bomb sends him flying off his motorbike and left for dead. Once Indiana is able to return to headquarters, the couriers are asked if anyone is able to speak German, leading Indiana to volunteer himself to officially become an undercover spy.
Indiana then travels to enemy territory to pick up confidential information, where he overhears that the Germans have two ‘Big Berthas’ (large howitzers) capable of mass destruction. Indiana then reports that intel back to Nivelle who dismisses him and proceeds to order an assault, which Pétain believes is too impetuous as they should wait to confirm Indy’s report.
The next day, Indiana sees Remy amongst the troops headed to the front lines, and he goes to speak to him knowing it may be the last time they ever saw one another.
Meanwhile, Pétain is able to indeed confirm Indiana’s report, and overriding Neville’s orders he writes a letter to the front calling off the attack. When Joffre finds this out he’s furious and hastily pens a written countermanding order, for Indiana to hand deliver back to the front lines.
As Indiana sets out to follow his orders Joffre explains to Pétain that while there is no military objective to be gained from the attack, there are great political ramifications at play, therefore he was more or less playing to public perception. Pétain, however, is unimpressed with that rationale.
Meanwhile, Indy is en route to the front when he makes a crucial decision by deciding to fake his own death by way of a motorcycle crash (still under the pseudonym Henri Defense), thus destroying the attack orders and saving hundreds of lives in the process.
Thus during his time as a French courier Indiana has direct encounters with:
Robert Nivelle - French artillery officer who served in the Boxer Rebellion and WWI, who despite leading counter-offensives that rolled back German offenses in late 1916, was also accused of wasting French lives in the process. Due to Nivelle’s tactics there was ultimately a mutiny within the French Army by 1917, leading him to be replaced by Henri Philippe Pétain.
Charles Mangin - French General during WWI also known as ‘The Butcher’, who despite early success was derailed by supporting Nivelle’s strategy that proved to be a disaster. Mangin once infamously said “Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men,” suggesting he wasn’t alarmed by high casualty rates.
Joseph Joffre - French General who served as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army on the Western Front for the first three years of WWI. He enjoyed success in 1914 (First Battle of the Marne) yet suffered debilitating defeats in ‘15 (Battle of Verdun) & ‘16 (Battle of the Somme), leading him to be relieved of his duties. He later would collaborate with the United States in regards to war strategies and became globally recognized as Papa Joffre.
Henri Philippe Pétain - better known as Philippe Pétain - French General who reached distinction of Marshal of France, and was later appointed Prime Minister of France During WWII. During the First World War he demonstrated outstanding military leadership and became a national hero, yet as Prime Minister many years later he ruined his stellar reputation by turning the French Third Republic into the French State (aka Vichy France), which was an authoritative regime that reversed liberal policies such as the independence of women, as well as controlling the media to endorse anti-semitism. During this time he also imposed censorship, and as a result Paris lost it’s avant-garde status in European art and culture. Although Vichy France never formally joined the AXIS powers, Pétain’s government collaborated with Hitler and allowed German military to occupy northern France during the height of the Nazi regime. For his involvement with Germany during the war, Pétain was ultimately tried and convicted for treason following the Allied Invasion and Liberation of France in 1944 [led by Indiana’s friend Charles de Gaulle], and was sentenced to death to be commuted to life imprisonment.
Key locations in this adventure are:
Verdun - small city in northeastern France, site of the largest and longest-lasting battle in WWI, fought between the German and French armies. Verdun is also the home to the first ‘Battle of Verdun,’ fought between French Revolutionaries and the Prussian Army during the opening months of the War of the First Coalition in 1792.
Fort Douaumont - one of the largest and highest forts that protected Verdun since the late 1800’s, they were proven ineffective by the time the Germans had developed 420 mm Gamma Guns that easily destroyed fortresses in Belgium, Poland, and France, which subsequently led the fort to be raided and taken over by the German Army in the early months of 1916.
Occurring during the:
Battle of Verdun - lasted 303 days in 1916 and was one of the most deadly battles in history, suffering approximately 715,000 casualties overall - with some estimates putting that number over a million.