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THE PARISIANS’ GROSSE BERTHA

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post

    That all depends on the source.

    I am fairly certain that, in the case of Liege, both Alistair Horne and John Terraine quote Belgian sources that the damage done at Liege, the concrete busting holes in the casemates of the fort, were actually achieved by German dynamite after the fort surrendered. Not sure about Maubuerg, but I have not seen picturwes of pynctured casemates at Maubuerge either.

    But there are pictures of forts at Verdun that would have undoubtedly come undwer fire from the 420 and 310 mm pieces, and I have never seen a photo of a penetration made to any of the forts that came under fire. The surrounding areas of Douamont, Vaux and Souville show a cratered moonscape, but no actual penetration of the forts themselves. Vaux had to be taken by entering the galleries, and after punishing action, sometimes in total darkness, Vaux was surrendered. Douamont was taken by coup de main, with no comparible struggle as at Vaux, and I'm not sure what happened at Souville.

    But the fact remains that the vaunted siege artillery of Liege and Maubuerge fame most certainly did not produce the same results at Verdun, which they should have if their ease of success at Liege was anything to judge their performance by. I think also it was Alistair Horne who also wrote that the real fort "cracker", if it existed at all, was in fact the Austro-Hungarian 310mm piece, which had a higher muzzle velocity

    With all the misinformation surrounding these field artillery pieces, it might very well have been to thwe Germans advantage to exaggerate the effects of these pieces. Were they deployed at Antwerp? And if so, why didn't Antwerp fall in the same quick manner as Liege or Maubuerge?

    Lookin'g at lack of results, its a large source of wonderment exactly why the Germans tried to field artillery of comparible size and performance for ww2. The "Dora" railway gun was not only innacurate, but also failed to have much in the way of penetrative capability, as it demonstrated at Sevastopol at the end of 1941. So too the siege mortars "Karl" and "Thor", who were not only just as innacurate, but also as had a very limited range (6 to 7 km I believe), limiting their battlefield use to conditions of absolute air superiority and only on railway tracks, just like "Dora".

    This whole piece is the most I've ever heard of the Parisienkanone", and in the best detail.

    It reminded me of a an unknown British "Tommy" talking to a journalist of the day, and saying....

    "There's too much f**king artillery in this war"
    Artillery of this size and caliber are not field artillery-they are siege or heavy artillery. There is quite a bit of difference between the two designations.
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

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    • #17
      On August 5, the enemy infantry attacked the fort of Barchon in close ranks. The cannons and rifles of the fort make huge breaches in the enemy ranks. The assault is repulsed, but the invader will no longer make the same error. It’s his artillery that will destroy the forts.

      To the surprise of the Germans, the Belgian army fiercely defended itself and even managed to repel the enemy in several places (Visé, Herstal, Rabosée, Sart-Tilman ...) where five of the six assault brigades retreated. As a result, the violence of the aggression increased and the Germanic troops torched several villages. The city of Visé is downright devastated. The Germans then undertook to bypass the line of forts on the right bank by the North by crossing the Meuse at Lixhe, not far from the Dutch border. On August 7, German brigades managed to infiltrate and create a breakthrough in the belt of the forts of Liège, between Fléron and Evegnée, despite a tenacious defense by the Belgian soldiers.

      When they reach Jupille, the German soldiers take a shot at the old fort of the Chartreuse. On the Belleflamme plateau, their installation of cannons and Liège then underwent its first bombardment. The Headquarters of the position, installed rue Sainte-Foy, is attacked by the enemy, which is pushed back, and the lieutenant general Leman answers his Staff towards the fort of Loncin. Following this attack, a widespread panic causing the abandonment of the central office of the P.T.T. through which all communications from the Fortified Position pass.

      From this moment, the situation changes, because the Fortified Position of Liège, already technically exceeded, will have to suffer in addition to a reverse attack: we did not foresee that the enemy could "shoot behind them" »» From the city center. Also, under the deluge of German artillery, the forts will fall one after the other.

      Indeed, stumbling longer than expected on this fortified position, the enemy had dispatched an artillery of siege unknown to this day: the battery n ° 3 of the Hauptmann Erdmann, composed of two 420 mm guns, had been installed in the village of Mortier and, on August 13, opened fire on Fort Pontisse. Designed, like the other forts, to withstand the 210 mm caliber, Pontisse, already shaken by the numerous bombings, could not stand for long under these enormous shells and was not long in raising the white flag.

      On August 15, it was Loncin's turn - likely to block the road and the railway in the direction of Brussels - to undergo the bombardment of these monstrous guns. The two 420 mm guns were brought to the Bressoux maneuvering field and began their destructive fire. At around 5:20 p.m. on August 15, enemy observers saw a huge flame rise above Loncin: the fort had exploded, burying part of the garrison under huge concrete blocks. General Leman himself was to be wounded out of the rubble. The next day, the last two remaining forts, Flémalle and Hollogne, capitulated. The battle of Liège was over, but, as we know, the war, bogged down on the Yser and on the Marne, going on for four long years, until the victory of the allies against the invader.

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