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Thread: Our THIRD Maginot Line gros ouvrage... ***IMAGE INTENSIVE***

  1. #1
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    Default Our THIRD Maginot Line gros ouvrage... ***IMAGE INTENSIVE***


    This is the last of the Maginot Line forts we have explored to date though I am posting it "out of orcer" as it were because I've saved what we thought was the best until last. I hope you enjoy it.

    The history...


    This Gros Ouvrage was particularly well equipped with long-range artillery but it saw no major action during the invasion of France in 1940 after the phoney war, nor in the hands of the Germans in 1944 when many of the other forts significantly held up the allied advance.

    The ouvrage is in really quite good condition compared to many of the other abandoned Maginot positions with much less flooding and no evidence of arson attacks. Nearby up on the main road through the area a flanking casemate has been restored for visitors as a living museum of the line.

    Construction by the contractor Ballot of Paris, began in May 1931, and the initial phase of construction was completed at a total cost of 84 million francs. Compared with its three closest neighbours this one is very similar in plan and layout but it is the most complete of the group with only one designated combat block left un-built. There is also a free standing casemate block which has been left disconnected despite the original plans for a link into the fort by a tunnel, which was to have been dug some time after the completion of the first stage of work. The other three forts were built as petits ouvrages, but with plans to develop them into bigger fortifications with a full tunnel network and extra combat blocks at a later date

    The main gallery and railway ('gare') system is in excess of 1500 metres from end to end and is serviced, as is the norm, by 60 cm gauge electric locos running on light rail tracks set into the floor. The separate munitions (EM) and personnel (EH) entrances are located on the reverse slope of a heavily wooded ridge. Normally gros ouvrages have three magazine designations - the M1 or main magazine, is located close to the munitions entrance and then a series of M2 magazines sit at fort floor level directly below each combat block, sealed from the gare to minimise the risk of a catastrophic accident by huge blast doors. The smallest of the magazines, the M3, sits immediately beneath the relevant fighting compartment in each of the blocks just a few metres below the surface and is re-supplied by a lift running up from the M2 magazine down at fort floor level. A stairwell usually surrounds the lift shaft to give the personnel in the fort access to the fighting compartments without recourse to the lift. The underground barracks are situated close to the junction of the two entrance galleries. The fort floor level is some 30 metres below the surface and there are a total of EIGHT combat blocks, or 'blocs' to give them their French nomenclature.



    In 1940 the ouvrage was manned by 615 men and 22 officers from the 128th. Fortress Infantry Regiment and the 152nd. Position Artillery Regiment. On the 21st. June, 1940 the ouvrage directly engaged German troops briefly, but it's main effort was in support of the other forts close by. 20,250 75mm artillery rounds, 1,780 81mm rounds and 2,220 135mm rounds were fired between September, 1939, and the armistice on 22nd., June, 1940. This small group of forts did not immediately surrender however and they held out in isolation for a further five days. In 1951 the ouvrage was repaired and modernised in order to serve as part of the new line designed to hold up a potential advance by Warsaw Pact troops in the event of the Cold War turning hot, but France's eventual acquisition of its own nuclear deterrent rendered the maintenance of the line pointless and the forts began to be closed down. This particular ouvrage has never been sold off by the army and remains in their hands at this time.


    The photos...





    Deep in the woods lie the two entrances to the fort. This is one of them.






    This lift down to the fort floor some 30 metres below doesn't work. Pity








    Down on the "gare" or railway tunnel area. Here a 60 cm railway ran the length of the fort.








    The fort had four deisel engine driven generators which were cited in an area known as the usine. This is the switch room part of the usine.








    One of the generator engines.








    Detail of the engine.








    This is the best collection of machinery in any of the fort usines we have seen so far.








    Designed with the same concept as submarine engines these did not need to be stopped long in order for the 'genie' (engineers) to work on them as each con rod could be accessed without having to split the cranckcase.








    The engineers tool rack.








    We are now in the barracks area of the fort. Why this room has steel doors etc. we were not sure.








    The 'money shot'!








    Now this room has a huge painted mural as you can see AND two smaller, shall we say rather 'fruity' murals. :)
    The odd thing is the big mural smacks of religion where as the other two smack of the soldier's universal religion.:p









    Hmmm... :p








    No c;lose ups peeps, sorry! We've moved on now.








    Back in the gare again.








    There are two of these little cubby holes in every gare at some point. It took us a while to find out that they were access
    to an explosive charge which was used to collapse the tunnel in the event of penetration by the enemy.









    Not perhaps what you'd expect the average poilu to use as his preferred form of mobility down here








    The split in te tunnel off to the left led us up into an infantry observation block with two fighting/observation cloches.








    My memory fails me but I think this was about 143 steps.








    Entering the bloc through the gas tight steel doors.








    A hand operated ventilation fan.








    Looking straight up into the cloche itself. The floor could be wound up or down through several inches to correct the roof height for the soldier on duty.








    We've moved on via the fort bottom level and are entering the access to another fighting bloc, this time an artillery emplacement.








    Part of the turret power distribution system.








    Almost identical to the earlier Verdun turrets this is the counterbalance beam to move the heavy armoured turret up and down.








    One level higher in the bloc now tghis is the bottom of the turret proper and where the artillerymen accessed the fighting compartment itself.








    Part of the operating mechanism.








    Looking up into the turret dome.








    Back on the gare - note the ventilation equipment on the wall.








    We're not certain but we think this is the light switch for the M1 magazine or the magazine corridor.
    The label behind it says "gare M" - gare, magazine area perhaps?









    The main magazine is protected from accidental explosion by a huge steel blast door on a counterweight system which slams it shut in extremis. Hope the steel cables aren't too rusty!Deep








    the M1 magazine platforms. Ammo goes in one end and goes out at the opposite end where the railway loops round and passes the opposite end of each chamber.








    Tpo give you an idea of scale I am about half way in to this magazine chamber and there are several chambers. That's a lot of ammo








    Ammo came off the 60 cm railway trucks and onto these overhead monorails. This is a points mechanism on the monorail.eep








    The entrance to the ammo entrance lift area is protected by a machinegun crenel here.








    The tunnel splits left and right at the ammo entrance lift.







    The lift shaft heading off towards the surface 30 metres above.







    An ammo carriage for the 60cm railway.







    And finally - this is the fighting compartment immediately behind the personnel entrance.
    The beam on the ceiling allowed the soldiers to swing in an anti-tank weapon to the crenel where
    a double drum fed machine gun normally sits on a hinged plate. Thus the compartment had dual capability.








    :) That's your lot from the Madge for this year, hope you enjoyed our three reports. :)
    Veni, Vidi suum custos canis admorsus meus culus...

  2. Thanks given by: acer77, chris, Edge Wear, flyboys90, gingrove, heeftmeer, leftorium, maxmix, Nantais, night crawler, richy142, UrbanX, _Nyx_
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  4. #2
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    I think I'm going to have to make a new forum rule. From now on you're not allowed to go anywhere else without taking me with you. :P

  5. Thanks given by: leftorium, night crawler, TeeJF
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    I don't like it, but I am gonna say it. OMG!

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    Thanks fellas!

    If there was enough interest I'd mount a "group trip" to take in a Madge and some Verdun forts but when I did tentatively mention it last year it got no interest so I figured this kind of stuff was just our bag and no one elses! You'd be very welcome anyway!
    Veni, Vidi suum custos canis admorsus meus culus...

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    I'm interested I just can't afford it. I'd have to go as a stowaway.

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    what can i say, but kin excelent :)

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    That's awesome folks especially love the engine reminds me of Farleigh ammo dump, that too had a submarine engine for emergency power that was made by Ruston Hornsby
    To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain always a child....Cicero

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    Well that was something else looks like you could wander for days and still not see it all. Superb!! :)
    May the shadow of Murphy never darken your door."
    Flickr

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    Im not into stuff like this normally, but this has left me speechless. Just wow. So much left behind after so long!
    www.urbanXphotography.co.uk
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  20. #10
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    Your reports just keep getting better,this one is amazing! its condition,the murals and the sheer amount of artifacts what a museum,superb photos.

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