Orchard Dump
Webmatters : The Battle of Verdun 1916 : Ouvrage de Froideterre

The Battlefield

Ouvrage de Froideterre

This location, as well as the Abris des Quatre Cheminées, is located along the D 913B which runs from Douaumont towards Bras sur Meuse (on the main road north of Verdun — D 964).

Decimal49.197665.40371 Map
The barracks on the right of the structure

The barracks to the right of the entrance


Plan of Fort Froideterre

When visiting the battlefield sites of Verdun it is perhaps too easy to look at the major forts with their mangled turrets and battered hulks and forget that the greater part of the battle was fought by men in trenches trying to wrench, or recover, these concrete monoliths from the other side.

There are a number of informative panels

On the roof of the structure, the 75 mm gun turret in the background

Once Douaumont and Vaux had fallen the battle turned towards the smaller positions guarding the final crests between the Germans and Verdun. One of these was the Ouvrage of Froideterre.

These ouvrages were meant to fill the gaps between forts ; more as part of the greater defensive network than as the last line of resistance.

Froideterre could hold about 200 troops in relative safety in a barracks on your right as you enter the car park. It could also depend on the underground barracks at the Quatre Cheminées at the bottom of the entrance road.

After a very basic installation in 1888 Froideterre was constantly upgraded over the coming years and by 1914 the ouvrage was equipped with

  • Turret containing two 75mm guns and an armoured observation post
  • Casemate de Bourges, with two 75mm carriage mounted field guns
  • Two armoured machine gun turrets, each with two Hotchkiss machine-guns
The casemate de Bourges

The casemate de Bourges on the left

The 75mm turret faced east towards Thiaumont and the 75mm Casemate faced west towards the ouvrage at Charny.

The two observation turrets provided excellent views over the local countryside and were to prove a key factor in the defence of the fort.

It does need to be kept in mind that there are no corridors between the different sections of the ouvrage. Moving between areas was done out in the open via trenches.


One of the machine-gun turrets with its armoured observation post below it.

As part of the German Army’s final push towards Verdun, Froideterre was subjected to an artillery preparation including gas shells on the night of 22nd June 1916. The following morning troops of the 10th Bavarian Infantry Regiment gained the court of the fort and started throwing hand grenades through breaches in the wall.

One grenade that went though the wall fell into a stash of grenades placed ready to hand by the defenders. The whole lot exploded causing enough noise and smoke to make Lieutnant Ludovic Karl fear that the French were about to blow the barracks up.

The 75 mm turret

The 75 mm gun turret — these guns had a range of just over five kilometres

Karl ordered his men to take cover in the ditch and for a moment the attackers hesitated giving the French chance to get a message through to the 75 mm gun turret and tell it to open fire on the superstructure.

This it did firing off over a hundred shrapnel shells at close range against those on the ouvrage and anybody else that was trying to come close.

The machine-gun turret over the barracks Inside one of the machine-gun turrets

Above and below one of the machine-gun turrets

By late-morning the 150 defenders had repulsed all attempts to gain entry and towards noon a counter attack led by soldiers of the 114e BCP and 297e RI cleared the structure of the remaining assailants.

Despite continuous bombardment for two days the turrets remained functional and were able, eventually, to beat the Germans back.

The roof of the structure