Armée des alpes Juin 1940
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Location code: 480

The Agaisen in battle

Indeed, the twinnings and the guns of the fortcontrolled the gap of the Bevera in the direction of Sospel, keypoint of our defense.

Par Jean Pierre Martin et Marc Endinger

Location code: 480
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bloc de combat de l'Agaisen

The Agaisen in battle

As soon as it was mobilized in 1939, EO3, better known as the Agaisen, was able to carry out its mission, which immediately proved to be of the greatest importance. Indeed, the twinnings and the guns of the fortcontrolled the gap of the Bevera in the direction of Sospel, keypoint of our defense.

Due to Italy's attitude long months passed in inaction, thus putting the impatience of the crew to a severe test: guys from Sospel, Nice, Marseille or Savoyards, with magnificent morale, burning to give the measure of their devotion. These months of waiting were not wastedsince they were employed to thoroughly adjust the performances of our blocks, our machines and individual technical knowhowdown to the smallest detail. In this manner the reservist of yesterday, ignorant of everything about the fortress, had become kind of veteran full of experience, of calm, confident in the power of its concrete and its weapons. We were ready when Italy, abandoning its attitude, declared open hostilities against France.

However, a few more days passed before the Italiansattacked. It was not until June 20 that the work intervened for the first time.

On request of MajorDamman of 85th BAF our 75 mm turret directed its fire towards Mount Ainé where gatherings were visible. Our 75 revealed efficient at first shot; the very bad visibility did not allow adjustment by our own means, but the 85th BAF informed us with the greatest precision. A dozen interventions consuming less than three hundred shells, supplemented by the action of Monte Grossostopped the enemy, our SES were subsequently able to contain it.

On the following days the enemyengaging several divisionslaunched a violent attackonPierre Pointuein the neighbouringsector of Menton. Taking advantage of an exceptional day and night fog, it managed to infiltrate through the Cuore in the direction of the Pointed Stone to the limit of our own sector. For three days, our turret intervened non-stop. The reports of the Italian Colonel Bellini, transmitted in clear and picked up by our radios, rendered us great services since they informed us of the movements of the assailants, their losses and the effects of our fire. The expression “terrifying” was often used by the Italian colonel.

Our turret had to fire principally in the region of Cuore and towards the work of Pierre Pointue. More than fifty fire missions were requiredand 1,500 shells expanded. Captain Filorelli commanding fortCastillon has repeatedly confirmed the speed and efficiency of our action; he attributes the clearingof this twice surrounded small work to the action of our artillery. One of the twinnings of our southern block had to intervene on the 24th on elements infiltrated towards Maurigon; the results could not be checked due to the thick fog.

During these five days of combat, our fort was copiously bombardedand hit bynearly two thousand caliber105 and 150 shells without any damage; larger shells, probably 280, from an armoured train were not proving more effective. We noticed many duds.

With a heavy heart that we had to leave ourso powerful and so beautiful fort,which could have resisted for months. Our pride and our consolation will be to have left inviolate the sector entrusted to our custody.

Captain Lejeune commanding crew No. 3; July 10, 1940