Petit Ouvrage du Bois de Bousse A24

Fort aux Fresques


Useful Information

Location: Rue de la Forêt, 57320 Hestroff.
(49.265700, 6.445720)
Open: All year Sunday 14:30.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (7-12) EUR 3, Children (0-6) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 3.
[2022]
Classification: SubterraneaCasemates TopicLigne Maginot
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Fort aux Fresques, Rue de la Forêt, 57320 Hestroff, Tel: +33-6-11-93-92-76. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1930-1935 bunker built as part of the Maginot Line.
1950s restored by the Army due to the Cold War.
1960 nuclear weapons made border fortification obsolete, the Maginot bunkers were gradually decommissioned.
1971 A24 decommissioned.
1998 taken over by the Fort aux Fresques association for preservation, opened to the public.

Description

The Petit Ouvrage du Bois de Bousse A24 is a part of the Maginot Line. The name ist actually not correct, it is a concatenation of different names. The numer A24 is the official designation of the site by the French military, unfortunately it is not good to remember. Petit Ouvrage is the type or classification of the bunker, there were different types, from small abris which were intended as shelters for sodiers to huge forts. The middle sized structures Petit Ouvrage (PO, Small Structure) and Gros Ouvrages (GO, Big Structure) are partly underground bunkers with a facade with embrasures. The difference is that the bigger has artillery, while the smaller has not. The name Bois de Bousse (bushwood) is the name of the location.

The site has three combat blocks and an entry block on the surface. All four are connected by a shaft to underground galleries and the underground barracks for the 138 soldiers and 4 officers which manned the bunker. The shafts have a staircase for the soldiers and an elevator for material and ammunition. The site is designed to withstand a bombardment of very large caliber shells. The underground structures are 20 m below ground for this reason. Its infrastructure includes ammunition stores, a kitchen, an infirmary, toilets, a command post, an electrical plant, water and diesel tanks, and a filter and air conditioning system. However, the air conditioning was intended to maintain a breathable environment, not for heating, and most of the site had a temperature of 8 °C as it has today. However, the Maginot Line was more or less irrelevant for the war and this site was not involved in the Bataille de France in 1940. After the battle and the truce it was abandoned. The crew received the order to evacuate the site, decommissioned the equipment, and left the site. The entire crew was taken prisoner two days later in the wood of Pange.

After the war, when it became accessible, it was nicknamed Fort aux Fresques (fort of frescoes). The reason are numerous murals on the walls of the bunker which were drawn by Daniel Dervaux, an artist from Saint-Malo. He was stationed at the bunker and spent his free time drawing. Motives are pop culture like Mickey Mouse, caricatures of officers, and even written text. The most famous painting is called descente du guet dans une officine clandestine (raid by the watch in a clandestine clinic). The texts resemble the official paroles which were typical for the time, but they were different, and probably they were hidden jokes of the soldiers. «Qui s'y frotte s'y pique» (He who rubs it in, stings it in), «La propreté est la santé dans le bien-être» (Cleanliness is health in well-being), «Sois bon camarade avec ceux qui vivent à tes côtés» (Be good comrades with those who live next to you), «L'alcool tue l'homme pour allumer la bête» (Alcohol kills the man in order to ignite the beast), «La bonne humeur facilite l'accomplissement des devoirs journaliers» (Good humour makes it easier to carry out daily duties), «Pense à ceux que tu aimes et ta peine te paraitra plus légère» (Think of those you love and your pain will seem lighter). The sections with murals were later named after famous people of the time, for example galerie Pasteur, galerie Maréchal Foch, galerie Général Ferrié, or galerie André Maginot.

The non-profit association which operates the site offers regular visits of the site, but also special event, like escape room or re-enactment. The dates are available on their website. They also have joined forces by twinning with a German association in nearby Saarland, which also operated a bunker museum on the German side of the border.