11 August 2019

Fort de Troyon

Fort de Troyon - André Ruiter Photography

When searching for stereoviews to extend my collection, I always pay special attention to images of sites I’ve visited while working on my photo projects. I was delighted to found a slide of Fort de Troyon. It brings back good memories of my visit to this fort in 2015.

The Story

Fort de Troyon was constructed from 1877 to 1880 and situated near the village of Troyon in France. It was built to protect the valley of the river Meuse. The fort played an important role during the early stages of the First World War in September 1914. It was bombed from 8 September 1914 by German large caliber shells. The French commander was ordered to hold the fort at least 48 hours. This resistance was crucial to prevent the Germans from taking the city of Verdun from the south.

On 9 September 1914, a German officer approached the fort and asked the defenders to surrender. The commander refused and the fort and its garison suffered again from heavy shelling. The bombardments ceased on 13 September. The fort had held.

If the fort had fallen, the German army could have crossed the Meuse and encircle the city of Verdun. It's resistance changed the course of the war.

Today, the fort is maintained by a foundation of volunteers. It’s opened regulary to the public from March to November.

In contrast to the title on the slide, this is Fort de Troyon and not Douaumont
In contrast to the title on the slide, this is Fort de Troyon and not Douaumont
6x13 glass stereoview by Brentano's
Fort de Troyon - silver gelatin print of the fort's courtyard
Silver gelatin print of the fort's courtyard (author's collection)

My Story

In October 2015 I visited the battlefields of the Saint-Mihiel salient. The trip started on 3 October with a visit to Fort de Troyon. When I arrived at the entrance the ticket vendor said: "kein rucksack, kein rucksack". Apparently I look German...

The man said that backpacks were not allowed to prevent stealing items from the fort. I told him that this was my photobag and I showed him my gear. Then I faced my next problem. It was not possible to photograph professionally without permission of Monsieur le président of the foundation. Fortunately, this man was sitting next to him.

I told him that I’m specialized in photographing forts and showed some images of forts from my Water as a Weapon project that were stored on my smartphone.

The president was apparently impressed and he allowed me to take pictures. After my visit I thanked him and put down 10 euros: "pour un vin, une bière ou pour le fort".

My Images

Fort de Troyon - entrance to the fort's courtyard
Entrance to the fort's courtyard. It's recognisable on the stereoview image.
Fort de Troyon - detail of the fort's barracks

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