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Friday, 28 December 2012

Cuisine Roulante

Someone posted this photo on a Facebook page. It is of a "roulante", a large, horse-drawn, mobile cooker with a limber, full title Cuisine Roulante avec Avant-Train. The roulante was issued to all branches of the French Army and was designed to cook  meals for a company of soldiers or the equivalent, approx 150 - 200 men.

I found some more photos.

There were a number of different manufacturers, each producing slightly different designs. Thousands were made and then taken into storage in 1919.

During the 1920's and 30's, one model was chosen and kept. In 1939, they were taken out of storage and 8822 were issued to regiments. Orders were issued for the manufacture of 440 new models per month, but this figure was never achieved.

In the early 30's, a roulante for motorised units was developed as a trailer. This was the Cuisine Roulante-Remorque mle 1916-1936 M.38. Around 3000 were available in September 1939, with orders for a total of 250 per month, not reached, were given to several manufacturers.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Joyeux Noel

Seasons greetings, I hope you had a very pleasant Christmas day.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Beau Geste

Robert Preston (Digby Geste), Gary Cooper (Beau Geste), Ray Milland (John Geste) from 1939 Hollywood film of "Beau Geste", with Ray Milland's signature across the photo.

Friday, 21 December 2012

280mm Mortier

Two more pictures of Schneider built 280mm mortars.

The top picture looks like a factory setting, or a training exercise. The second is a coloured photograph from 1914.

This picture is of 154 Regiment Artillerie Positional (RAP) taken at Christmas 1939, during the drole de guerre.

As I mentioned yesterday, these WW1 mortars were still in use in 1939/40. In June 1940, it was two batteries, each of two mortars, of 154 RAP that smashed Italian observation posts on the top of Chaberton.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

280mm Mortier

A Schneider 280mm Siege Mortar Model 1914/16 being loaded. This mortar fired a 205kgs shell to a maximum range of 10950metres. The location is unknown. The relatively short range would have placed the battery within easy range of larger German field pieces so sighting would have been paramount. This piece appears not to be camouflaged.

A number of 280mm mortars were still in use during the 1940 campaign, giving good service on the Italian front. They were captured and used by the Wehrmacht.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Portrait of Napoleon III

An official portrait of Emperor Napoleon III, looking majestic, magisterial and confident.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fortress Visit Report No.5, Return to Fort Nelson



DATE : 30th November 2012.

I wanted to return to Fort Nelson carrying a better camera with a larger capacity battery. On my first visit, I paid for an excellent guided tour with one of the volunteers. On this second visit, I wanted to explore some of the fortifications in greater depth.

The Fort has three mortar batteries, North, East and West. These photographs are of the North Mortar Battery.

Wooden plan relief of the fort, with the North Mortar Battery in the obtuse angle.

The battery has three 13inch mortars in undercover shelters. The mortars would be loaded then manhandled into position using levers. Firing would have been slow and very noisy, with the bang reverberating off the brick walls and with a considerable amount of smoke from the gunpowder charge. The crew would have been deafened and blinded.

If the enemy pressed home their attack through the mortar barrage, they would have come out of the mortars' fire. The mortar crews would then pick up their rifles, leave the battery and man the firing platform up the steps in the fourth photo. This is the firing platform.

This is the view from the receiving side of the firing platform
At the back of the Battery is a spiral staircase to gain access to the Main Tunnel and then to the North Caponier and Flanking Galleries..

The Caponier has two floors, the ground floor having four 32 pounder guns.

The caponier was fitted with eight muzzle loading guns firing case-shot. These were replaced in the 1880's with four 32 pounder guns that had been converted to breech-loading, still firing case-shot, the effect being like a giant shotgun.

Flanking galleries allowed local defence of the Caponier by riflemen.

Access to most of the external positions is restricted in winter to allow those areas to recover. However, a 25pounder cannon is fired everyday on the Parade.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Ricky Ponting to retire

Just seen the headlines, Ricky Ponting is to retire from international cricket.

I saw him bat a few times in Ashes matches and ODIs at Old Trafford, Headingley and Trent Bridge. Brilliant, just brilliant.

To date he has 167 Test Match caps and 13366 runs. 375 ODI caps and 13704 runs. 71 international centuries. An outstanding career for Australia. As an Englishman I have mixed emotions, pleased to see him go but very sad, international cricket is to lose one of its greatest stars.

Ricky - thank you.

Summer Job - Fort Carré

Fort Carré, Antibes, August 2012. I believe this is repair work being undertaken - I don't know if the person has gone up from the ground or abseiled down from the rampart.

I took these pictures from the Fort Carré Facebook page.

Fort Carré is a 16th century star fort that has been renovated in recent years. The photos make it look very appealing - another one for the to do list.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Maubeuge Demi-Lune

This ariel winter-time photograph is of the main entrance demi-lune at Maubeuge. It shows the refurbished guardhouse (Corps de Garde) and controlled access point, the tenaille and the main gate, the Porte de Mons.

Monday, 19 November 2012

October & November Films

I have not had much to report on film watching. The past few weeks I have seen an average of five films per week and many of those have been extremely average. Three films stand out.

The first two were seen at the cinema. "Loopers", a sci-fi starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Joe, Bruce Willis as the old Joe. Emily Blunt also starred. The plot was implausible enough to be believable, the effects were good and it was very well acted. Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt are young actors that I make a point of watching, I think they will be great actors.

The second film at the cinema was "Skyfall", the new James Bond film. Very enjoyable, just leave your brains at home.

At home I watched "Margin Call", a very good ensemble piece set in a company on Wall Street. The film received very high praise when it was released, I am very pleased I have caught it.

Something else I am very pleased I caught was the television series "Falling Skies". More sci-fi, aliens invade earth, wipe out most of the adult population, this is the story of the survivors. A good story, good cast with Noah Wyle taking the lead, high production values (Steven Spielberg is listed in the credits). I have watched series 1, after Christmas I will try for series 2.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Le Pinard

Another internet find.

La Baionnette was published between 1915 and 1918. It was a humorous magazine published for the ordinary soldier, generally poking fun at typical french situations. Le Pinard is the daily ration of wine issued to all troops.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Instruments of Death

Here in the UK, the TV channel "Yesterday" is showing a history series named "Instruments of Death". The programmes are centred around individual battles, the weapons that were used and the wounds they inflicted.

I watched the first programme, about the English Civil War battle of Naseby. The presenter talked about and demonstrated matchlock and doglock muskets, pikes, mortars and buff coat protection. This was very interesting for me because this is not a period I follow.

The next two programmes are about Towton (War of the Roses - another English civil war) and Hastings. I shall watch them with interest, particularly as Towton is only 10 miles from where I live. The Yesterday website does not have details of the remaining three programmes. If you can I recommend you watch the programmes.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Friday, 9 November 2012

Fort Nelson - French Artillery

Fort Nelson is home to the Royal Armouries' collection of artillery. There are two pieces of French artillery, captured in action by British forces.

This is a bronze 6 pounder field gun, made in 1813, named L'Avocat.

It fired a 2.7kgs projectile to around 550m.

This is a 75mm QF Schneider-Creusot field gun, made in 1895 and was captured in Southern Africa during the Boer War.

It fired a 6.6kgs shell to around 8km and fired 8 - 10 shells per minute.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Visit to Fort Nelson

Following on from my last post, here is a map showing Portsmouth and the location of the ring of forts built in the 1860's.

Fort Nelson is on the Northern edge on the line that reads

Fort Wallington - Fort Nelson - Fort Southwick - Fort Widley - Fort Purbrook - Farlington Redoubt.

The forts are named after the nearest village, except for Fort Nelson, that is named after the nearby Nelson monument.

The map is copied from"Fortress - A History of Military Defence" by Ian V. Hogg, published 1975, the year I bought the book.

Fortress Visit Report No.4, Fort Nelson

Visit to Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth, England.

October 2012

These two pictures are copied from the Fort Nelson Souvenir Booklet

During the later 1850's the UK government became aware of developments within Emperor Napoleon III's France. Their concerns were around the development of Cherbourg, only 130 km from Portsmouth, the development of the new steam powered armoured warships and the increasing range and power of artillery. A Royal Commission recommended the building of new defences around strategic ports at a suitable distance to counter these developments in armaments. Collectively these forts are known as Palmerston's Forts.

Parliament voted a huge budget for the forts. Design and sighting work was completed in 1859 and 1860 by Royal Engineers. Construction was carried out by civilian contractors during the 1860's. However, during this period it became clear that Napoleon III was not looking to attack UK. France suffered two major defeats, first in Mexico then in the Franco Prussian War of 1870-71, this latter leading to Napoleon III's downfall. The forts became known as Palmerston's Follies.

Fort Nelson was used by the military until the 1970's. Hampshire County Council bought the site in 1979 and some conservation work was completed. In 1995, Fort Nelson opened as the Royal Armouries museum of artillery. A lot of time and money has been spent to convert the site to modern museum standards. During 2011 new facilities and display areas were opened to the public.

Fort Nelson is named after this monument to Lord Nelson, erected in 1807, following his victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Fort Nelson is around 500 metres from here.

Fort Nelson is of a polygonal design with open cannon position on a parapet surrounding a large terreplein.

Haxo casemates.
The artillery positions on the flanks are open to enfilading fire so are in Haxo casemates.

The main entrance, with new door.

Defence for the main entrance was this double height caponnier, with cannon and musketry ports.

Additional exhibition space has been created by infilling with steel and glass. This allows good display height and members of the public can get  close contact with the artillery pieces. In the front is a British 3.7inch anti-aircraft gun. Behind is a German 88mm anti-aircraft gun.

In a separate gallery, this 32pounder gun is installed in the main caponnier. It was planned to use such pieces as flank guard gun, firing caseshot.

At 15.00hrs every day, this 25pounder WW2 cannon is fired.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries ran out, so another visit is required. On the north side of the fort there are good local defence works, such as another caponnier and a mortar battery, another visit and report will cover those.