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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

30th April 1863 - Battle of Camerone, Mexico

Today is the 150th anniversary of the action at Camerone in Mexico.

A company of the Foreign Legion were defending a resupply mission and were attacked by a much larger Mexican force. Only two legionnaires survived. One of the great legends of the FFL that added greatly to their esprit de corps.

A full but short account of the action can be found at or

Saturday, 27 April 2013

(A very young) Brigitte Bardot

A beautiful photograph of a beautiful young woman - BB looks about seventeen years old here.

Thanks to "Arts in Paris" Facebook page.

French Lancers

Another Facebook find. No further info given, but a great photo, I thought I'd share it.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Napoleon Abdicates

Yesterday, 20th April, was the 199th anniversary of the first abdication of Emperor Bonaparte.

My thanks to Facebook page of the Musée des Invalides for the print.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

De Lattre Line, Hanoi - Red River 1950

After WWII, France sought to reestablish its colonial empire in Africa and Asia.

Indochina had been taken over by the Japanese in 1940. When they left, there was a long war between the local peoples and the French and a few local allies. In what became North Vietnam the French dug in. Marshal Jean de Lattre de Tassigny arrived in 1949 to take over the colonial forces. He created the de Lattre Line as shown above. This was to protect the capital, Hanoi and its connections to the main seaport at Haiphong.

The line was approximately 3200kms long. the French had 323 artillery pieces, mainly 105mm howitzers, which they grouped into 160 X 2 gun positions. At river and railroad crossings, the French built a number of concrete bunkers. These incorporated obsolete tank turrets

Bunker with H-39 tank turret.

Bunker with Cromwell tank turret, manned by legionnaires.
These look like developments of the AtlantikWall bunkers. I find these to be fascinating, although outside my usual timelines. I may devote some more research time to the de Lattre line.

I have pinched the above map and photos from various Internet sites and I would like to thank the contributors.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Isle de Re - Vauban - Spring Trip 2013

La Porte Thoiras, Saint-Martin de Ré

Fort de la Prée, built in the mid-1620's

A simple guide to Vauban's works.

I bought this book, "Vauban, Génie Maritime" with text and watercolours by Arnaud D'Aunay, in the giftshop at Gravelines Fortress. The above landscapes and the guide are copied from the book, my thanks to the author for such a fine work. The forts are the main focus of my planned visit in May.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Fusilier - New France - 1755/60

From the Facebook site "Les Garnisons des Pays d'en Haut" a drawing of a French Army Fusilier in New France, DYW, 1755 - 60, by Louis Fregier.

This Facebook site has had several of these drawings - I like them very much- thank you for sharing and thanks to Louis for such good work.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spring Trip 2013 - Ile de Ré

I have booked my Spring trip. My partner is going to the Royal Windsor Horse Show for a week but horses are not my thing so I thought I would slip over to France for a Vauban based trip. I have booked rail tickets to La Rochelle, overnight stay, then onto Ile de Ré for a few days.

These are the map and the guide book I have bought.


The island has several major fortifications. First, I am staying in Saint Martin de Ré on the island's North coast and very central. The town has a Vauban designed citadel (top right of the photo) and town with enceinte. My hotel is very close to the harbour. The first two days, probably, will be taken up with a thorough but relaxed exploration of the enceinte and citadel, together with a couple of nice lunches and dinners.


There is another nice work, a star fort named le Fort de la Prée, built around 1625, just down the coast.


The island has several smaller works that I will try to see but I am not sure whether they have access. One work I really want to visit is from the German occupation of WW2.

The German Navy built a U-Boat pen at La Pallice, just outside La Rochelle. This is the building used for the filming of "Das Boot" (an excellent film) and is still owned by the French Navy. The Germans built some bunkers on Ile de Ré as part of the defences for La Pallice and as part of the Atlantic Wall. such as the lower photo on the guidebook. They put two turrets from the decommisioned cruiser Seylidtz into a battery named Karola, with 203mm cannons that had a range of 37kms. The turrets are long gone but the fire control tower is still there, too difficult to demolish.

This is six storeys high, somewhat overgrown but a lot is still there.

These are the three pieces I most want to see, if I have time I will visit others. I'm so looking forward to this trip. Fingers crossed the weather improves.