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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.

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