"Behind the German lines",
30 km northeast of Verdun,
west of Spincourt and Loison.
Artillery Bunkers near
Mangiennes, Billy s/s Mangienne,
and the 380mm canon base at Duzey.
We depart from the Bois des Caures along the D66,
on our way to the former German 380 MM Artillery Base
near Duzey, ...
... when we detect this landmark for orientation,
on the northern side of the road,
just before the village of Mangiennes: an after-war
Maginot Line Casemate type STG B1, number “CEZF-48”.
This second Maginot line consisted of several bunkers between
Pierrepont and Mangiennes, hence the name of the
Then we turn right to the D 16 in the direction
of Billy s/s Mangienne,
to find these three 1915 artillery bunkers in the fields on the west side of the country road.
These bunkers were used as shelters for long range artillery guns,
which where directed at Verdun, some 27 km from here.
The northern bunker, or "right" bunker.
Nowadays the farmer canalized a stream through it.
The bunker in the centre of the three bunkers....
The "left", or rather southern bunker of the three bunkers.
A sandy country road beneath it.
The two most northern bunkers viewed from the southern bunker.
As we cross the hamlet of Billy, we detect this German shelter, now being used as a goat shed...
At Billy we turn eastward to the D105 and we go via Muzeray north to Duzey,
to the German 380mm "Gros Max" Artillery Base....
Bois de Warphemont,
in the woods west of Duzey;
relics of the concrete base of a
German 380 mm "Gros Max"Canon,
and the shells distribution depot bunkers.
This site in Warphemont Wood has been one of
the most secret places of high strategic value to the Germans.
In October 1915 the Germans made this artillery base operational.
They builded this concrete "bear-pit" as a base for
their Siegfried SKL 45 Max 380 mm artillery gun.
The Germans exploited 2 of these canons on this location,
but I could only find one concrete base.
Siegfried SKL 45 Max, made by Krupp Werke
Calibre: 380 mm
Barrel length: 19,6 m
Range: 56 Km
Muzzle velocity: 1050 m/s
Weight of Gun in action: 24 Tons
Weight of shell: 495-800 Kg
Rate of fire: 1 round every 4 minutes
Besides this model on a concrete base there were also
other Siegfried-canon-type models, a marine model,
and a railroad model.
The concrete base has a depth of 4 m and a diameter of 23 m.
The Germans directed their 380 mm artillery gun
at the battlefields around Verdun and Verdun itself.
In particular during the start of the battle of Verdun
and during the battle itself this gun has been very active.
A view of German "Kanoniere",
handling the huge shells of the "Fat Max" or "Gros Max".
These shells were around 2.00 m high....
... as you can compare here in this picture to my modest length of 1.70 m.
This site was connected by railways via Spincourt
to the railroad line Nancy - Longuyon.
The entrance to the underground ammunition bunker for the "Gros Max".
From here the Germans mounted and distributed other types of
shells to artillery guns closer to the lines.
The entrance to one of the tunnelbunkers,
where used to be narrow railroad.
A relic of one of the small ammunition wagons.
Inside the tunnel, where the ammunition trains were loaded....
More to the north, another 30m long assembly tunnel,
which divides itself in the centre in two tunnel tubes.
Along the outside of the tunnel tube we detect
entrances for personnel,...
... and more airshafts in the roof like this one....
At the other end of the tunnel both railroads come together,
just out of the exit.
Some relics of the narrow railroad are still visible
for the eager eye....
In the direction of the front again another Y junction,
splitting the ammunition railroad.
The red star marks my camera-position on the photo above,
the yellow star marks the exit of the other tube.
A last view at this impressive site,
which has been a French National Monument since 1924.
Go to the next chapter,