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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Mont - Dauphin

Looking at Facebook today I saw these two photos taken from the wall of the Vauban fortress of Mont - Dauphin, located in the Alpes Maritimes near the French / Italian border. They were posted on the Fortiff Séré page with the words "Mieux que la plage, la fortif." (Better than the beach, fortification".) I could not agree more. It makes me want to go, immediately.

A photo of the fortress from Google Images. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

Visit to Fort Paull

Last weekend I visited Fort Paull, near Hull, on the north side of the Humber estuary. B and two friends did not wish to see the fort so they went to see a lot of fish at an aquarium in the centre of Hull, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

Fort Paul is strategically located on the north bank of the Humber. It was built to protect the port of Hull.

The Humber Road Bridge?

View across the estuary from the terreplein.

Caponnier to defend the entrance

Diagram of fort.

This is a privately owned fort so it's not run on the same vigorous lines of a public museum, such as Fort Nelson in Portsmouth which was built at the same time. However, I really enjoyed my visit, I liked the mix of artillery and vehicles and aeroplanes and the various collections housed there.

Ariel view pinched from Google Images has the technical details and a history, but briefly, the fort was built as part of the Lord Palmerston strategy of seaport defences, between 1861 and 1864. It was armed with 19 x 64 pounder rifled muzzle loader cannons which were taken out and replaced around 1900 with 3 x 6 inch cannons and 2 x 4.7 inch QFs.

I will post some more of my photos later but for now, lunch is calling.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


This morning, on the fat balls, a nuthatch. This was a first since we moved into this house; in fact I have not seen a nuthatch for about fifteen years.

It was too fast for me to photograph so here is a photo from Google Images.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

David Jones "In Parenthesis"

The weekend just passed - I watched BBC4 tv programme:

"The Greatest Poem of World War One: David Jones's In Parenthesis".

I had not heard of this poem so I was intrigued and I was very well rewarded.

David Jones was born in London in 1895, to a Welsh father and English mother. He attended art school from age 14.

In 1914 he joined the London Welsh infantry regiment. He was wounded at Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.

After the war he returned to art, working at the Eric Gill studio. In the early thirties Jones started to write the poem. It took four years to finish and was lauded as the greatest poem by other poets such as T S Elliot. It is in seven parts, it looks extremely long and complex and requires "close reading".

This is a great one hour  programme about an artist and poet I did not know and about a piece of literature of which I knew nothing. If you can, I recommend you watch it.

All images found on Google Images; I would like to thank anyone who has posted the pictures.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Batterie de l'Eperon a Frouard

This week, I move away from films and return to fortifications.

Around the borders of France, during the period of 1870 to 1940, L'Armée Francaise built hundreds of forts and other works. These were under two strategies.

First - following the Franco - Prussian War until WW1, to cover the new border with Germany following the Annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. These forts and other works were under the basic design of Chief Engineer Séré de Riviere.

Second - between WW1 and WW2, with the return to the pre-1870 borders along the River Rhine the line of works around Alsace and Lorraine that became popularly known as the Maginot Line.

In addition, there are a number of works in Alsace / Lorraine built by the German Army during the Annexation of 1871 - 1919 and at the end of WW2 the French took a slice of Italy with a few forts built by the Italians around 1900.

A number of these works are still occupied by the French Army and so they are out of bounds. A number are out of bounds because they are dangerous, they are in a delapidated condition and collapsing, or the Army has not done the artillery shell / landmine clearance work around them. A number of the sites have become National Monuments or museums and are properly maitained by the French State. Hundreds of works are owned by and maintined by local volunteer groups or are owned by individuals and many of these are opened to visitors over the summer period. Over the next few weeks I would like to share some of the sites I find on my trawlings of the web.

First, to the north of Nancy is the small town of Frouard. This has a fort built under Séré de Riviere design. This fort looks like it is a forbidden area, however it had an external batterythat was built about 1.5 kilometres from the fort to cover some dead ground. This battery is known as "Batterie de l'Eperon a Frouard". Un eperon is a spur in English. This work has a group of volunteers who are restoring the work, L'Association de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Fortifié de Frouard.

Frouard's fort is the typical trapezoid shape of most Riviere forts, but as this work is a battery it is quite a small work that is triangular to fit its locale. As designed, I think it had its guns firing from embrasured positions on the parapet. Before 1914, it was modernised, the guns were removed to external positions, the work was protected by concrete and sand, the armament was updated to a two-cannon turret and two single cannon casemates. Light artillery and machine guns were installed for local defence.

Ariel shot, with the entrance at centre top and the turret in the centre. (photo from Facebook)


Gallopin double turret mod.1890 with two 155mm cannons

The turret internals

Inside the work, very neat and clean.

A Mougin casemate for a 155mm cannon.

A concrete and steel gueritte obersvation post

Inside a Mougin casemate.

The peacetime garrison was 201 officers and men. This was increased in 1914 to 194 infantry, 160 artillerymen and 6 engineers, a total of 360 officers and men.

All of thephotos, except the first photo, were taken from Google Image where many more can be found. I would like to thank all those visitors to the fort who have shared their photos.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sunday morning in North Yorkshire

Today, for the first time in some weeks, I put on my hiking boots and went for a walk. Out of Easingwold, up Mallison Hill and on to Howe Hill. Not particularly far, a few miles, but it was very nice to be out.

From Mallison Hill, looking towards Sutton Bank

Howe Hill in the distance

From Howe Hill, across the valley towards Barker Hill

From Howe Hill, towards Thornton Hill

Ever have the feeling you are being watched?

From Mallison Hill, with Crayke Castle on the ridgeline