Forgotten History: A German Bunker at Montfaucon

When one visits the Montfaucon American Monument (to the soldiers in the Meuse-Argonne offensive), one finds the road in flanked by a pair of (mostly) surviving German bunkers. These standing artifacts of 20th-century warfare are something that we simply don’t have in North America, and I find them fascinating and poignant to experience. Today’s video is not a detailed history, but simply a look in and around one of these bunkers.

Thanks to Military History Tours for making this video possible!



  1. Wondering how much the original earthwork would have masked the concrete structure. And how such hardpoints were integrated into a trench system that would have eroded by now.

  2. Thank you.

    I really hope somebody watching this can name the bat.

    The next time you are in London then I would strongly recommend doing a day with someone who knows about the British WWII defences built in Sussex and Surrey after the fall of France in 1940; who can drive you to film some of the many, but utterly forgotten ‘Pill Boxes’.

    I walked under the Ouse Viaduct ( ) in 1975 and was delighted to discover a brick Pill Box that still had a cm thick, 18 inch circumference circular plate below the big opening facing south.

    The plate will have been ‘stolen’ and sold for scrap 35 years since, but this post may prompt someone to say what the plate was mounted for (it was held in place by bolts cemented into the ‘mount’ below; but there where no nuts! I could have lifted toff and took it home; but for the fact I was 13 and lazy). I guessed heavy machine gun or 2 Ib’er anti-tank gun.

  3. Out here in Seattle, and in other coastal locations, we still have some of the old Coast Artillery fortifications. Camp Casey, one of the Puget Sound ‘Triangle of Fire’ forts, still has two 10-inch guns on disappearing carriages. (even though they were originally installed in the Philippines) That, and Civil War earthworks, are about as close as we get to leftover military combat engineering works in the US.

    • Further to that, Fort Stevens in Oregon is well preserved with several gun mounts. There is is also a heavily overgrown radar bunker at Ecola point and a WWII era guardpost in the Bonneville Dam visitor’s center parking lot.

        • The last castles were built in the 16th century, so the US does not have true castles, although there are, I believe, some remains of 16th century Spanish forts in the Americas. The differences between a castle and a fort or fortress is are not very clearly defined, however. Some definitions say that a true castle has to have been a residence of a nobelman at some point, which points to the feudal origins of many castles. There are, however, many medieval defensive buildings in Europe which are known as castles, although they were never really a home for a nobelman and his family. Typically such castles were owned by the crown (i.e. the monarch) and may have served as a temporary residence for him/her or his/her family or relatives, but mostly were occupied only by a garrison.

          Whether castles are of special interest to American tourists probably depends on their interests. Many medieval castles a surprisingly small and relatively austere, although some really big ones do exist. Romantic “fantasy” castles built in the 19th century may actually be more interesting to visit for people who are not very interested in medieval history and castles as military buildings.

  4. [off-topic so ignore if you wish]
    U.S. forces are to examining L4 case-less (dubiously case-less might I add) rifle
    Photos and video clip:
    Manufacturers (?) page explaining advantages of such system:
    To begin it looks to be combination of 19th century technologies, generally appears to be multi-layered harmonica gun with electric ignition (solution known in 19th century, but widespreadly used in WWII-era German aircraft cannons and tank cannons).
    General similarity to some 20th century, might be also found, for example ammunition layout is somewhat similar of FIAT-Revelli Mod.914 machine gun, due to order of firing ammunition (use all from one column, after depleted switch to next column and so on), “only perpendicular motion” might be find in Mk 18 Mod 0 grenade launcher, fire rapidly short burst is similar to G11 (though with single barrel and firing 3 bullets at time)

    Ok, now to theirs claims
    charge block ammo comes pre-loaded straight from the factory, which obviates the need to load individual rounds, saving vast amounts of time by passing that duty on to the manufacturer.
    I would say that same offers Mannlicher’s clip. With normal metallic cartridge.

    To prevent overheating, each block is ejected after use, along with any heat that would otherwise be held in a chamber.
    Ok, but this mean than you have carry chamber for every one propellant charge. Does not sounds good from point-of-view of mass economy. Generally similar to carrying revolver and loaded cylinders ready to swap (quite popular solution in era of percussion revolver, cf. Remington 1858) instead of revolver with single cylinder and metallic cartridge.

    L5 Rifle, coupled with charge block ammunition, represents an entirely new firearm class and addresses the prevalent and dangerous problems of reloading, overheating and jamming, which are inherent to the design of currently deployed firearms.
    Reloading (in sense putting cartridge into magazine) is not currently problem which would need such extreme steps to solve, with many many many various device made which allow to full magazine quickly. Overheating is problem, if it actually occur, in most cases in military applications gunner will deplete own ammunition, before serious heat build-up.

    Lastly, but importantly, you have to carry 5 barrels (ok, they claim, that technically it is single barrel with 5 bores), which result in additional mass (versus single barrel/bore), as being single part there is no way of replacing single bore, even if all others are correct.

  5. There was an interesting bullet hole in the steel beam right over the door. Looked about the right size for a rifle bullet.

  6. US modern forts (steel reinforced concrete, not colonial brick and stone) are all part of the “Endicott System”, built very late 1800’s / very early 1900’s. These are exclusively coastal artillery forts made for shore defense against enemy naval vessels. They don’t have MG bunkers or infantry defense positions.

  7. In 1964-65 my father was in the USAF and we were stationed at Loan, AFB, France adjacent to Zone Rouge, I was in the Boy Scouts and we went wild in all the bunkers, and old trenches. We were warned all the time to stay out the bunkers and don’t touch anything, but we proceeded with out caution finding all sorts of rusty artifacts shrapnel, pieces of helmets, canteens, you name it, some areas had never been cleared from end of WW1 and you would find unfired ordinance. The farmers constantly plowed up unexploded shells and set them on the roadside for the French Army to pick up.
    Our troop regularly camped at gun position on top of a plateau.
    My dad would take us to the Compiègne site you featured in the earlier video. At that time there were rows of oak boxes that had viewers in them with literally hundreds of glass slides of 1914-1918 photos of the battlefront. Quite an education and adventure for any one. I have really envy your recent tour, perhaps someday i get back there.

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