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Remembered Today:

Another attempt to storm Fort Douaumont


Christina Holstein
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Yesterday a little German boy of 9 climbed into the northwestern counterscarp gallery of Fort Douaumont and managed to fall 20 metres ... without being hurt.

He's got a great future ahead of him as something but I'm just not sure as what.

Here's a link to the Est Républicain's report about it:

http://www.estrepublicain.fr/actualite/2014/08/24/meuse-un-enfant-de-9-ans-fait-une-chute-de-20-metres-dans-le-fort-de-douaumont?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=l-est-republicain-l-actualite

Christina

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He's got a great future ahead of him as something but I'm just not sure as what.


Stuntman?

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Yes, or acrobat. High wire walker too, perhaps?

Didn't Sgt Kunze get his men to form a human pyramid so he could climb into the fort? I have a vague recollection of Horne mentioning it. Perhaps the young man is related, if not by blood then certainly in spirit. Great to hear that he is ok, nice post Christina.

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When myself and my wife were there in mid - August I commented, after wandering around the outside of the fort, how in the UK the Health and Safety Exec. would have a field day with warning signs, barriers, taped off areas etc. I've no doubt this young man has learned a valuable lesson which will remain with him for the rest of his life. Something we try to "protect" our youngsters from.

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My son and I were there in July and talked about how the NZ HSE Dept would have a field day, probably you are protected from falling over the edge by getting snagged in the barbed wire on the top and so on. However would be pity to make any changes for HSE that detracted from the stark solemnity of the forts.

James

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He was lucky to survive a fall from such a height.

That said, I'd be really sorry if the Health and Safety Executive blocked off every possible danger on the fort and the battlefield. There is a clear notice on the northwest counterscarp gallery telling people not to try to enter so it's their responsibility if they do. As someone who had three children of that sort of age all over the battlefields of E. France, forts and all, I made sure that they didn't climb into or on to things that were obviously dangerous.

Christina

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As someone who had three children of that sort of age all over the battlefields of E. France, forts and all, I made sure that they didn't climb into or on to things that were obviously dangerous.

Christina

As W.C.Fields might have said, "Run along children, play in the field with the mustard gas shells"... :whistle:

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Or in the words of this particular mother 'Don't walk ahead of me, don't pick anything up, don't kick anything and don't play 'Geronimo' in the shell holes'. 'Geronimo' involved running at full speed down slopes, shouting. I can't remember why it was called that.

Christina

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Or in the words of this particular mother 'Don't walk ahead of me, don't pick anything up, don't kick anything and don't play 'Geronimo' in the shell holes'. 'Geronimo' involved running at full speed down slopes, shouting. I can't remember why it was called that.

Christina

The 'Geronimo' rings a bell, but I can't remember why...

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Think that one of the American Paratroop Battalions had it as a war cry as they leaped out of the aircraft. If i remember from reading the Victor in my youth.

John

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Or in the words of this particular mother 'Don't walk ahead of me, don't pick anything up, don't kick anything and don't play 'Geronimo' in the shell holes'. 'Geronimo' involved running at full speed down slopes, shouting. I can't remember why it was called that.

Gosh, I wish my mother had taken me on walks around First World War battlefields. The nearest I ever got was being told to go round the back of a WW2 pillbox in the sand dunes at Somewhere-or-other-on-sea for a wee ...

Have your children become Great War enthusiasts too, Christina?

With all the usual caveats, Wiki offers this re 'Geronimo' .... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo_(exclamation)

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I think the game started as a result of reading 'Wild West' books to my son when he was about 6. I suppose the name Geronimo was a good one to shout. They had a den on a patch of wild land close to the house and that was known as the Geronimo.

One of my three did History/Military History at Kings, the others did other things but they all grew up walking the area between E. Champagne and the River Moselle, so they knew the history pretty well and had no fear of forts, blockhouses, tunnels or anything else. I was a member of a number of local historical associations which organised tours and the kids came along too. 'When are we going back to Verdun?' was a constant cry in our house.

Christina

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'When are we going back to Verdun?' was a constant cry in our house.

I often ask my wife the same question. She often gives me 'that look' :devilgrin:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Christina,

I have just finished the ninth of your terrific Verdun walks. I have really enjoyed the discoveries. Much has changed particularly with regard to signage in the woods. However, there is one treasure that you mention and show, MF2 near Froideterre. I can find no mention of it other than the photo on p.138. Can you help, please? Incidentally, the information board on PC119 is also long gone. I sense that as the more touristy memorials are thriving, those in the forests are being deliberately 'lost'. For example, the only sign for the Powder Magazine is on the track pointing at it. There is nothing before that.

I could give you more but would be very grateful for the MF2 location before I leave.

Many thanks

Robin

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Robin...

MF2 is the star marked 'Anc.Abri' on this IGN map extract...

Dave

post-357-0-68650100-1411147667_thumb.jpg

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...and here's a trench map extract from September 1916 to illustrate...

Dave

post-357-0-77222400-1411148178_thumb.jpg

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Dave,

Thank you so much. That is a really helpful answer. I will head out there tomorrow. Thiaumont & Froideterre was quite a long walk in the hot sunshine. I am glad I did not have to go down to there as well!

Brilliant answer. Thanks.

Robin

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Enjoy the walk, Robin. You probably won't see anyone up there and it's in really good condition.

Dave - nice map.

Christina

PS Sorry not to have replied before. I've just come back from Gallipoli. Now that's difficult walking! It makes Verdun seem like a walk in the park.

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Christina and Dave,

I am so grateful for the guidance you have both provided. I have completed all the walks and have really enjoyed the journey. MF2 was found with no difficulty and I enjoyed discovering the very intersting trenches beyond. It is amazing that one of the steel rifle shields still exists with signs of battle.

post-93782-0-88253900-1411411447_thumb.j


This is the steel rifle shield from the trench further on from MF2.

post-93782-0-10734100-1411411575_thumb.j

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Glad you enjoyed the walk. Thank you for posting the pictures.

If the steel shield in the second picture is from the entrenchment close to MF2, it was constructed in 1917, which is why it's in such good condition.

Christina

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Kids will be kids... by the time he gets back to school, his little mishap will be a great adventure to tell his mates and to impress the girls with!!

M.

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The steel shield is from the trenches past MF2. If it was installed in 1917, it is fascinating that no overhead cover was provided for those trenches. Surely the battles of 1916 had taught them that protection from artillery was essential? Or were there dugouts nearby to protect them? Certainly, I could see no evidence of that. Trench X & Y by comparison have 20cm of concrete, meagre but at least some and with soil on top, perhaps double that.

I will be very interested in your comments.

Robin

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