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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Fortress Visit Report : Eben Emael : Location

I intended to include these two pictures in the first listing, but I forgot. I have copied both from the Internet, my thanks to the original posters.

The first is a map of the geographical location of Fort Eben Emael, 10 kms south of Maastricht (Holland), 20 kms north of Liege.


The second picture is a better photo of the noticeboard showing the suggested walking route around the works on the top of the fort.


Fortress Visit Report : Eben Emael : Outside

Not so much a report, more of a listing of some photos. These are of the outside and the top of the fort.

This fort is massive, huge, something like 900metres X 700metres.



Bloc 1, entrance.

Casemates firing towards Bloc 2

Around the back of Bloc 1 to get to the top

Just before the brow, gun emplacement Visé 2, 3 X 75mm cannons


Difficult to photograph because of undergrowth and slope


Air intake

The vast expanse on the top of the fort

Coupole 120 in the distance

Emplacement Maastricht 1, 3 X 75mm cannons


Coupole 120


Hollow charge damage

2 x 120mm cannon embrasures, now capped

Looking towards Coupole Nord

Back to Bloc 1, looking towards Bloc 6, with donkey

Outside Bloc 1

and so to the inside

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Holts Battelfield Tours - the Belgian Forts

Last weekend I was on this Holts trip to the East of Belgium for a visit to five forts. 24 of us (20 men 4 women). We travelled by coach and stayed at the Ramada Plaza Hotel In Liege.

Our group outside Fort Lantin

Day 1 - Friday - out of bed at 03:45, to be driven to Leeds by B for the 05:05 train to Kings Cross Station, London, to arrive at 07:30, then cross Central London to Victoria Coach Station for 08:45. Break down outside Grantham, I found myself remarkably unfazed by this (c'est la vie). Arrive Kings Cross 08:15, use the London Underground and swift walk to arrive at the coach stand at 08:44.

The coach drives across Kent to arrive in Dover, then ferry to Calais. Lunch on the ferry, industrial fish & chips & mushy peas but I'm too hungry to resist. Then a 5 hour drive through Belgium to Liege.

Day 2 - Saturday - Liege has a ring of 12 forts built in the late 19th century. We visited 2.

Fort Loncin, which in August 1914 withstood several days of siege until bombarded by Big Bertha 42cm gun. It blew up, killing approx. 350 of the garrison. It is now a national monument.


Fort Lantin, which also withstood several days of siege, but surrendered due to structural damage and the build up of gases.

Day 3 - Sunday - during the 1930's, 4 new forts were built. Again we visited 2.

Fort Eben Emael - one of the largest forts in Europe at the time, famous for its size and for the audacious way the German captured it in 30 hours, using glider-borne assault troops. A wonderful site, very well maintained.

Fort Tancrémont - a smaller fort, dark and cold and damp - again another wonderful site.

Day 4 - Monday - travelling back across Belgium, we visited Antwerp. The city was to be the National Redoubt and had a lot of fortifications. We visited Fort No. 5, which is now at the centre of a public park. Lunch in Antwerp then over to Calais for the ferry. Dinner on the ferry - lamb curry with no lamb - I'll never learn.

20:45 arrive at Victoria Coach Station, then London Underground to Kings Cross Rail Station for the 22:00 train to York. Collected at the station by B, home by 01:00

A wonderful trip, only marred by the mediocre catering at the hotel and on the ferry. A good group of fellow travellers. I have around 320 photos to review, I will make fuller reports during the Autumn.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

England 3 India 1

Well, who would have believed it? Four weeks ago I thought all was lost. Now, three wins in a row and England have won the test series against India, the last two tests both within three days.

In the early hours of this morning I returned home from a Holts Battlefield Tours trip to Belgium forts. Fuller reports will follow, but first I must sort out the photos I took.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

BBC TV "The World's War"


This morning over breakfast, I watched Part 1 (of 2) of this programme, through BBC I-Player. The second part is showing tonight.

A very interesting programme, he talks about the Indian Army then the Tirailleurs Senegalais and how both were affected by European 19th century racial concepts. I would quibble with some of the detail but, on the whole, I recommend this programme. David Olusoga is new to me but he made some really interesting points.

David Olusoga

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Remembering Robin Williams

Woke this morning to the news that Robin Williams has died at his home in California, aged just 63. This is a sad loss. I found him to be a genuinely funny man, starting from when he came to my notice in the television programme "Mork & Mindy".


Robin Williams and Pam Dawber as Mork & Mindy

One of my best cinema memories. In the very large Odeon Leicester Square to see the newly released "Good Morning Vietnam" - the film contains a number of in-jokes about Nixon - I had recently finished my degree which included a course in American Politics - so myself and another chap at the other side of the very full cinema were the only two people laughing - a very strange moment that should have made me very subdued but he was so funny, I could not help myself but laugh outloud.

Thank you Robin.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fortress Visit Report : Feste Wagner / Fort de Verny

My recent stay in Metz - I took a bus ride to Verny, to visit the German built fort there.

In German - Feste Wagner. In French - Fort de Verny.

Built between 1904 and 1910, during the Annexation. Part of the outer ring of fortifications around Metz.

Slowly and lovingly being restored by ADFM, (Association pour le Decouverte de la Fortification Messine) since the mid-1980's. They organise walking tours around the work on Sundays and Thursdays during the summer, it takes about three hours. A very knowledgeable guide, French only, no English spoken. I would write a better explanation for the site but I have packed away my books ready for the house move on Friday. I will write a separate post about the forts around Metz, when we are settled and back from holidays.

Outside the fort is still dangerous with uncollected ordinance

Barracks building

Ready built position for train-mobile artillery

Part of the extensive barbed wire fields


"Escargot" sentry post

Howitzer block




Cannon block


55mm cannons for local defence

Railings for access control

Friday, 1 August 2014

A win...A win...finally we won a test match

England celebrate (photo pinched from the Guardian website, so thank you)

England have won the third test, playing really well against India. Hooray hooray hooray. The first test win in a year. Well done boys. The series is now level at 1 - 1.

The news media has provided some funny comments. According to the BBC, with this win England have got the monkey off their backs. I have no idea what that means, but it made me laugh. This young man below, Moeen Ali, is the new England spinner and he took six wickets during the Indian second innings. He has been called "the beard to be feared".