Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France


Ouvrage des Granges Communes
Ouvrage des Granges Communes on the mountain ridge – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

This Petit Ouvrage (PO) of the French Alpine Line, also known as the Little Maginot, is located at the Col de Granges Communes at an altitude of 2,525 meters. The work consists of an entrance block and an infantry block with artillery observation.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes had to control the road along the Col de Raspaillon from Camp des Fourches towards the French village of Bousiéyas. It also covered the flank of nearby Ouvrage Col de Restefond and served as artillery support for Ouvrage Restefond.

Construction

The original plans of the Defense Commission in 1929 include three infantry blocks and an entrance block, but this is eventually reduced to an entrance block and an infantry casemate. Although the construction of the work starts in 1931, only the infantry block is cast just in time for the Invasion of France in June 1940. The excavations for the B1 entrance block are started in 1939, but it never comes to the actual construction. The delays are mostly caused by the bad weather conditions and when tensions with fascist Italy rise in the 1930s, the priority lies with the construction of Gros Ouvrage (GO) Restefond.

At the outbreak of World War Two the civil engineering of the generator room was still in progress and so had to be halted. This means the work had no electrical installation in June 1940.

The entrance blockhouse was built over the shaft of the initially planned block after the war between 1956 and 1960, when the work was renovated as part of a NATO upgrading program during the Cold War.

Italian Invasion of France

PO des Granges Communes is manned by 30 men and 2 officers of the 73rd Alpine Fortress Battalion (BAF) during the Italian Invasion of France, a.k.a. the First Battle of the Alps, in June 1940.

The work doesn’t have any known part in the events between 16 and 25 June 1940.

Block 1 – Entrance

Ouvrage des Granges Communes entrance
The entrance block of Ouvrage des Granges Communes with in the background on the right Block 3 of Col de Restefond – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Block 1 is the entrance block of PO des Granges Communes. Originally the entrance block was to have two 81mm mortars, one JM and two FM machine gun embrasures and two cloches. But at the start of the Invasion of France in June 1940 this block was still unfinished. The structure you see today dates from between 1956 and 1960 and is built over the shaft of the initially planned block. The block has an FM machine gun embrasure for close quarters defense.

A deposit of armor containing elements which probably were meant for the construction for Block 1 is situated at the Barracks of Restefond.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1
Another view of Block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1
View from the other side of block 1 at Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1 entrance
Block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes looking out over Ravin des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1
Ouvrage des Granges Communes inside block 1 – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1 inside
Inside the entrance Block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes with remnants of an air intake – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 1 staircase
View of the staircase inside block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Block 2 – Infantry casemate

Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 cloches
The armor cloches of Block 2 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

This infantry block with armored cloches is built in a boomerang shape. This way the position can cover the Granges Communes mountain pass, the access road along the Fourches Barracks and control the Tinée Valley. Two of the cloches are for Reibel MAC 31 machine guns in a twin setup and two are GFM Type A for MG and 50mm mortar. Of the latter the O20 designated cloche, which was equipped with a J2 periscope, was tactically attached to Ouvrage Restefond.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 roof
Block 2 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes seen from above – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 cloche
Ouvrage des Granges Communes Block 2 GFM cloche overlooking the Tinée Valley – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 GFM and JM cloche
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 GFM and JM cloche (left to right) – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 GFM cloche
The central GFM cloche attached to Restefond of Ouvrage des Granges Communes overlooking the road to the Fourches Barracks – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 inside GFM cloche
Inside GFM cloche C2-18 of Block 2 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 GFM and JM cloche
The other two GFM and JM cloches of Block 2 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 JM cloche
The West JM cloche of Block 2 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 JM cloche inside
Ouvrage des Granges Communes block 2 JM cloche inside – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

A large FM machine gun embrasure on the West side of the structure protects the flank of the works at Restefond. This position also has a diamond ditch with an emergency exit at the bottom and a grenade chute to keep enemies clear.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes FM embrasure
Ouvrage des Granges Communes FM embrasure directed towards Col de Restefond – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes FM embrasure
Ouvrage des Granges Communes FM embrasure – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes exhaust grid
Ouvrage des Granges Communes exhaust grid above the diamond ditch – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Underground structure

The structure includes an underground barracks located 8-10 meters below the entrance level composed of the garrison’s barracks, sanitary facilities, a kitchen and various storage and technical rooms including an generator room.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes staircase block 1
Looking down the staircase of Block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes staircase block 1
Looking up the staircase of Ouvrage des Granges Communes Block 1 – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes snow in the tunnel entrance
Snow at the bottom of the staircase of Block 1 of Ouvrage des Granges Communes in July – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes tunnel entrance
The tunnel entrance to the underground system of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes transformer
What remains of the electrical transformer of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes underground system
Tunnel system of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes underground system
Vaulted doors between the underground barracks and the infirmary of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes underground barracks
Underground barracks of Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes water storage
Water cistern at Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes access to water system
Ouvrage des Granges Communes access to underground water system- Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes barracks beds
Barrack beds at Ouvrage des Granges Communes – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Construction site

Because PO des Granges Communes was largely unfinished at the beginning of WW2 and hastily taken into use, you can find a lot of remains from the construction. Some photo’s of the remains.

Ouvrage des Granges Communes construction
Ouvrage des Granges Communes remains of the construction – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes water bassin
Ouvrage des Granges Communes water bassin on the mountain ridge – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
Ouvrage des Granges Communes construction
Ouvrage des Granges Communes remains of construction – Jausiers, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

Visit

You can find Ouvrage des Grange Communes in the curve of the D64 road along the Col des Grange Communes/Cold de Raspaillon, Jausiers, France.


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