LONDON, Feb. 24, 1916 (UP) - Under the eyes of the Kaiser, the German crown prince and his army are smashing their way steadily toward the fortress of Verdun, in France. They are less than eight miles away.
Their drive, it is reported in Amsterdam dispatches, is the first step in a new drive on Paris.
The Kaiser, according to Copenhagen dispatches, addresses his troops each day, urging them to conquer Verdun at any cost.
French forces have been compelled to evacuate the village of Brabant-sur-Meuse, less than eight miles north of Verdun, under heavy attack by the crown prince's army, the Paris war office said today.
The French have also lost part of the Caures woods, four miles east of Brabant, the war office reported, but have repulsed other heavy German attacks.
The present drive began three weeks ago with violent artillery and infantry dashes in the Champagne. Late last week these subsided, after the Germans had made gains of more than half a mile in the French lines.
By the blasting fire of thousands of guns, the Germans plan to wreck the defenses of Verdun and begin a great march on the French capital, 132 miles away, Amsterdam reported.
Berlin believes the fall of Verdun will signal the beginning of the end of the war.
The crown prince, it is stated, has been appointed commander-in-chief of all the German forces in the Alsace and Meuse regions.
According to an Amsterdam dispatch to the Central News today, quoting a German authority, the present offensive begins a desperate struggle to secure control of the entire French fortress line with the view to opening a road to Paris.
Half a million men are now locked in the great struggle in the woods north and northeast of the French fortress.
The fierest artillery and infantry fighting is proceeding on both banks of the Meuse.
The Germans have battered in the head of the strong French position nine miles north of Verdun, according to Berlin dispatches.
Berlin claims capture of more than six miles of two miles at some places, the greatest gain made by either side on the western front since the French drive in the Champagne last September.
If the Berlin report is true, the Germans are now approaching the outer forts of Verdun.
By another equally effective drive they may bring their 42-centimeters to bear upon the Verdun defenses.
Paris dispatches, reporting that the battle has spread along a 25-mile front, indicated today that the Germans are pressing their attacks with the utmost fury, counting upon overwhelming the Verdun defenders by the weight of their assault.
Amsterdam asserted that the German losses have exceeded those in any fighting in five months.
For 48 hours streams of dangerously wounded have been moving toward Germany, according to Amsterdam reports.
A Paris dispatch said German losses have been so heavy as to insure the defeat of the attempt against Verdun.