The fortress Four-à-Chaux
The Limekiln was built between 1930 and 1935 by about 800 people. Its name comes from a limekiln which was used until 1939 near the fortress. During the war, it was a codename: A4. It is one of the 108 fortresses of the Maginot Line, a defense line which is about 750 km (500 miles) long.
The soldiers belonging to the fortresses troops (in French, R.I.F, Régiments d’Infanterie de Forteresse) were mobilized several times, when Hitler annex Austria, for example. At the end of August 1939, those soldiers where mobilized one last time in order to protect their country from the German invasion. During the “Phoney War”, the soldiers organized their life in the fortress. They set up a grocery store in the Well’s room. The neighbor village Lembach was empty, because its inhabitants were evacuated to the Haute-Vienne, to Droux. The soldiers therefore searched to what the people didn’t take with them, including animals and alcohol…
They stood into the fortress until the July 1st 1940, the day when the french commandment forced them to surrender, which they did after having fought especially in May and June 1940. Actually, the Maginot Line was given to Hitler.
The Limekiln is a middle-size fortress, covering an area of 26 hectares, containing 6 combat units (including 3 artillery units) and 4,5 km (about 3 miles) corridors. There were about 600 soldiers in it. 240 were men of the artillery, 180 of the infantry, while the rest of the team was part of the combat engineering. The commander was the Commanding Officer Louis Exbrayat, and there were 24 officiers.
Insigne du 165ème RIF du Four-à-Chaux