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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Fortress Visit Report : Fort Tancrément Internals

This fort is run by a small group. The fort is not as big or as famous as Eben Emael so it does not attract as many visitors or the funds. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating fort to visit and to talk to the guides. It was the last fort in Belgium to surrender to the Germans.


Defended lobby, end wall has a mg and a grenade chute, door into fort at end on left

Fortress artillery on display

Long term goal is to return guns to the fighting blocks

This is part of the counterweight mechanism on the disappearing coupole

Another part of the counterweight mechanism

Under the coupole, the counterweight mechanism in place

Grenade launcher (I think)

Fortress Visit Report : Fort Tancrément External

On my recent trip to Liege with Holts - this was the second fort we visited on Day 3, after Eben Emael. This fort, Tancrément, was the last to be completed before WW2.

These photos are of the outside of the fort.

Holts provided this page of plans for the fort

Main entrance block

Ditch from B1 towards C.IV

C.II, counterscarp gallery

Hooks for camouflage netting

On the top of the fort (le massif) the Northern Cupola

Southern Cupola

On a clear day, Fort Battice is visible on the horizon

Exiting the fort by bunker BP

Anti-tank defences.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

"A Most Wanted Man"

We went to the local Vue cinema yesterday evening to see this film.

This is a John Le Carre spy story, one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last films. We really enjoyed it. Le Carre's stories are very much the opposite end of the spying spectrum to 007 films, they seem to be trying to reflect the everyday grind of normal spy work and the climax is built up through storytelling. Even Hamburg looks grey. This is a very good film - if you liked "Tinker Tailor" then probably you will enjoy this.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

To EU or not to EU - that is not the question.

This has been an interesting week. A good walk, a couple of interesting films and a couple of turkeys, an interesting result from the Scottish Referendum and I'm not sure I like Peter Capaldi as the new Dr Who.

The new academic year is starting so I have been  reviewing the York U3A prospectus as I would like to attend more courses. For those who are unfamiliar with U3A, this is the University of the Third Age. Aimed at retired people and with local centres, groups are formed for talks and meetings, for example this is my third year with the Military History group. Most groups do their own talks but some also have outside speaker, our next talk is on the Falklands War of 1982 by  a veteran of the campaign, I am giving a talk on the Franco-Prussian War at our November meeting.

York U3A prospectus for 2014 - 15 has walking groups, language lessons and usage, philosophy, history, knitting, theatre going and more. I tried to join the Architecture appreciation group but that is full. Turning to Contemporary Studies I found "Europe : In or Out?" That could be interesting, this is a question upon which I have mixed views, or it could be a crashing bore attended by lots of UKIP followers and Daily Mail readers, but I would give it a try, nothing to lose but a bus fare and a couple of hours.

I emailed the group leader to see if there was a place, he replied that the group was on hold as only three people had expressed an interest and that would be insufficient for a good discussion dynamic. I was surprised by this; this is a very current topic with much play in the news media and there is a UK General Election next year. I did a bit of research - pollsters are reporting that EU membership excites a small minority of people but most people are putting issues such as their continued employment and the economy, house prices and possible mortgage rate hikes, the NHS, foreign terrorism spreading to the UK and other issues ahead of the EU.

Now that was an interesting find.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The First Walk of Autumn

Today - my first walk in the country for weeks due to house move and hols.

The route was around the South of Harrogate on the Ringway, between Pannal and Knaresborough, a distance of 6.5miles. The weather was warm but misty; autumn is just around the corner. (For anyone outside England - Harrogate is a town in Yorkshireland, about 20 miles west of York and it is on the edge of the hills, of the Yorkshire Dales).

A few photos.

Pannal village

Pannal parish church

Path through the graveyard

Into woods

A lane between very expensive housing

A carpet of reddy/brown husks

I don't know what they were cooking for lunch but it smelt really good

More open country

Through farmland to Knaresborough

Monday, 15 September 2014

No plans - so "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Yesterday morning. B was going through her plans of horsey activity for the coming week when I suddenly realised; next Saturday, the York branch of Western Front Association have a talk on Third Ypres; until then I have no plans whatsoever - nothing. Moving to the new house has gone smoothly with everything unpacked and the boxes returned to Pickfords, my summer travels and hols are finished, the new course at Lifelong Learning does not start until early October; my talk on the Franco-Prussian War to U3A is November; no cricket at the moment; so I have nothing to do.

This week - I think as the weather looks good a hillwalk or two, some films, a bit of reading (primarliy FPW research), maybe a bit of painting to finish the Mameluk unit I started before the house move.

This is the first film I have watched.

Magnificent. Martin Scorsese at his best. It is very long at 3 hours but I was hooked throughout.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fort Eben Emael - inside 3

This is my final set of photos from inside the fort. They show the damage as a result of the fighting within the fort. On entering the fort, the Germans exploded a number of charges, more to demoralise the garrison than do any damage but some deaths did occur.

These photos are of the lower level of artillery block Maastricht 1. The Germans had entered the block at ground floor level, then gone down the stairs and placed a 50kg charge against the armoured doors.

An intact corridor armoured door, sandbags, steel struts. the inner armoured door is behind the struts. 

After the explosion, damage to the door frame

The door has been blown off

The door hinge has been bent through 75 degrees

The blast has collapsed the hoist

In the corridor, the blast and flying debris killed six Belgian troops, shrapnel marks on the wall.

Undamaged hoist from Visé 2

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Fort Eben Emael - inside 2

These photos are of the inside of one of the fighting areas. These were taken in Visé 2, a fixed artillery position that was not attacked as it did not pose a threat to the invading German forces.

In the corridor at the base of the position

Repaired caissons for the 75mm cannons

Pushed/pulled manually

Hoist cages for the caissons

Access stairs around the hoist to the fighting position

Inside the fighting position

You never know when you need to go...

These are 75mm cannons

The position has three cannons

Beautiful brass work for ranging

Cannon and unrepaired caisson

Fire control

Telephone switchboard to artillery observers outside the fort

A loose helmet