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Friday, 31 July 2015

England win Third Ashes Test

England have won the third of the five match Ashes Test Series. They have won by 8 wickets in under 3 days. Wow. Hooray, hooray, hooray.

A fantastic match. Open that bubbly, time for a few drinks and toasts.

Joe Root and Ian Bell score the winning runs

Man of the Match award to bowler Stephen Finn

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lorraine Trip - Maginot Line - Fort De La Ferté

Fort number 2, Ouvrage de La Ferté, a petit ouvrage, an infantry fort.

Driving from the hotel to La Ferté we drove through the town of Montmedy and got a look at the outside of the mid-16th century citadel. This looks very interesting and I think I will plan a trip there (so many forts so little time).


The Maginot Line was extended to cover the area around Montmedy. Work began in 1934 and consisted of two gros ouvrages, 2 petits ouvrages and a number of infantry and artillery casemates.  The fort of La Ferté is the Western end of the Maginot Line proper and was constructed between September 1935 and December 1937.

The Guide lists the armaments as :-

1 A/T gun 47mm
5 A/T guns 25mm
14 machine guns 7.5mm MAC model 1931
10 automatic rifles 7.5mm model 1924/29 (FM24/29)
4 hand grenade launchers
800,000 rounds of 7.5mm.

This fort is the only Maginot fort to fall to a German attack, which resulted in  all of its garrison of 105 men being killed.

The fort is now in private hands and has been restored to be fully accessible. It has a new visitor centre that sells a very good guidebook. The following four pictures I have copied from this Guide.

Map showing the forts and casemates of the Montmedy Fortified Region with La Ferté in the top left corner

Aerial view, Bloc 1 at top centre, Bloc 2 in the centre of the photo

Leaflet showing Bloc 1 and its anti-tank rails and barbed wire

The excellent Guidebook

My Pictures.

The view from Bloc 1 towards the next work at Margut

Our excellent and very knowledgeable guide whose name I cannot remember  (sorry)

47mm A/T gun (left) and twin machine guns (right)

Searchlight cover

Entrance over ditch by the drawbridge covered by FM24/29

Inside, foreground 47mm A/T gun, background twin 7.5mm machine guns

Combination weapon for cloche and turret, 25mm A/T gun and twin 7.5mm machine guns
From here we went down and into the passage that connects the two Blocs.

Pictures from the leaflet above, showing the passage and the engine room

These next four photos show the cantilever arm for the retractable turret.

Outside Bloc 2, The metal hoops are for the radio antenna.

Observation cloche

The retractable turret for 2 combination weapons, blown off its mount by German engineers

Monday, 20 July 2015

Australia win Second Ashes Test

S#*/ -

England lost the second of five match series. We were awful. What a turn around from our performance in the First match. Australia knew they had to play much better....and so they did.

The new England coach said "England got their backsides slapped". He is an Aussie so he knows.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

"Force Majeure" and "x + y"

Two films, both family-based dramas, that I recommend (if you like this sort of thing).

The first is a Swedish drama that follows a family at a French ski resort for a week long break. On day 2, a controlled avalanche goes wrong whilst the family are having lunch. The drama centres around the reactions of the adults. The dialogue is mainly Swedish but also French and English.

The second film is a British drama. Asa Butterfield plays a maths prodigy who has trouble understanding other people and how to act and react in social situations. At an early age he decides to use his talent to enter the International Mathematics Olympiad. He achieves his goal in his mid-teens.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Lorraine Trip - Maginot Line - Fort Fermont

The first fort we visited was l'Ouvrage de Fermont. This is a gros ouvrage, an artillery fort.

Built between 1931 and 1935, it comprises of seven combat blocks and two entrances. From the entrances there are stairs and lifts going down 30 metres to the internal transit level.

Diagram of the fort (copied from the Fort Guide)

The ammunition entrance (Museum postcard)

Goods elevator, note the railway track.

Narrow guage railway (copied from the Fort Guide)
Our carraiges

Artillery shell modular delivery frame

Ceiling mounted carrying system for delivery frames

Fighting Bloc 4 - 75mm cannons and ammunition racks

Bloc 4 External Views. The bloc provided support fire for Fort Latiremont. The damage was inflicted by German 88mm cannon, June 17th 1940.

Bloc 4 (Postcard from Museum shop)

Ditch for defence and to catch any concrete that flakes off the bloc when under enemy fire

17 June 1940, a German 88mm shell pierced the concrete wall

External, on top of Bloc 1. This bloc has a retractable turret with 2 X 75 mm cannon, a grenade launcher and a machine gun cloche.

The view

Grenade launcher

Retractable turret

Machine gun cloche

Armoured air intake
The retractable turret weighs 265 tons, of which its dome roof weighs 18 tons and has 33 cm thick armour.  The crew fired at around 20 to 30 shots per minute. Targets were precalculated. In the down position, the crew would lay the cannons on target, the turret would rise about 40 cms, fire off the required number of rounds, maybe 10 or 20 shells, then drop back down for the crew to lay the cannons for the next target. The bloc was undamaged during the German attack, withstanding 210 mm and 305 mm shells. The turret continued to  fire until the Armistice.

Walking back to Bloc 4 I noticed this machine gun mount on the Bloc 4, for local defence in the direction Bloc 1.

Returning to the coach, I spotted this goods carriage for the internal railway

Driving away from Fermont our guide said we could photograph another Bloc, unfortunately I do not remember which Bloc it was.

Finally, a copy of a postcard sold in the fort's museum shop. This card shows the vignettes of internal life in the fort.