12. The British launched the Battle of the Somme, which eased pressure on the French at Verdun
By the beginning of June, French forces at the RFV around Verdun had suffered approximately 185,000 casualties, with the Germans enduring about 200,000. The German offensive had bogged down, their frontline troops were exhausted. On July 1, 1916 the British Army launched the Battle of the Somme, which had been intended to be a major assault by the French when it was originally proposed in late 1915. The Verdun battle had diverted much of the French Army to that campaign, and the Somme became a British led, rather than British-supported attack. French units did take part, though other divisions were diverted to Verdun to support the counterattacks there.
When the Battle of the Somme began the Germans were forced to withdraw some of their heavy artillery to support the units under assault. Local German commanders made the decision to attack and consolidate their positions in the RFV before the artillery was lost to them. A French fort, Souville, was targeted for seizure by the Germans in mid-July. The position would offer the Germans a strong fortification on high ground and an opportunity for the infantry to establish entrenched positions with wide fields of fire. On July 9, a preparatory bombardment using gas shells attempted to silence the French artillery, as it had in earlier attacks.