Fort de Chillon

The Fort de Chillon is a twentieth-century fortification directly adjacent to the medieval Château de Chillon on the edge of Lac Léman in Switzerland. The fort secures the road and rail lines that pass along the lakeshore running east from Lausanne to the mountainous interior of Switzerland. The position is an advanced work protecting the approaches to Fortress Saint-Maurice, part of the Swiss National Redoubt. Deactivated as a military post in 1995, it is privately owned and is being converted to a wine cellar.

Fort de Chillon
Western Switzerland
Fort de Chillon is located in Switzerland
Fort de Chillon
Fort de Chillon
Coordinates46°24′54″N 6°55′44″E / 46.41496°N 6.92898°E / 46.41496; 6.92898
Site information
OwnerPrivate
Controlled bySwitzerland
Open to
the public
Planned
ConditionPreserved
Site history
Built1942
MaterialsRock excavation

DescriptionEdit

The Fort de Chillon lies directly adjacent to the Château de Chillon, a major tourist attraction. The site has been fortified since at least the 12th century. The Fort de Chillon is a mixed infantry-artillery fort, located almost entirely underground in the steep slope rising to Veytaux above the rail line.[1][2] The location is spanned by the Viaduc de Chillon. Built at the opening of the Second World War (1941),[3] it was armed with a mixture of 75mm guns and 90mm anti-tank guns.[4] Initial work was completed in 1942. The fort was designated A390 in the Swiss fortification nomenclature.[2] The ensemble included permanent and rapidly deployable anti-tank obstacles, designed to stall or trap an enemy while the fort's weapons fired on them.[5]

The fort was initially armed with two 75mm anti-tank guns for direct fire, replaced with 90mm guns in 1962. Two other 75mm guns were retained until 1978. Two additional 90mm guns and five machine guns completed the offensive armament. Defensive arms included two machine guns each at the Rocher de Veytaux and Montagnette, with three at Champ-Babaud, along with two 81mm mortars. Infantry bunkers command the road and rail lines adjacent to the castle, linked to the main fort by underground galleries.[2][6]

The Fort de Chillon was manned by units of Mountain Brigade 10.[5] The garrison comprised 131 men. Nine detached bunkers were provided for infantry forces defending the surface of the installation.[2]

This position was covered from the direction of Saint-Maurice by the Fort de Champillon, an artillery fort .The Chablais plain to the south was covered by additional fortifications. The Chablais and Chillon ensembles were not considered part of Fortress Saint-Maurice proper, but were important advance works to delay and weaken an attacker before they reached the Saint-Maurice stopping line, or fort d'arrêt.[7] The entire region is fortified with anti-tank barriers, permanent minefields and other barriers, while tunnels, bridges and retaining walls are mined or prepared for demolition.[1]

Present statusEdit

As a result of the reorganization of Swiss fortifications under the Army 95 program, the fort was deactivated and declared surplus. Chillon was considered for purchase by the Canton of Vaud in 1998 and was briefly opened for public tours, with the intention of making it into a museum.[8] However, the transaction fell through. The town of Chillon waived its rights in 2004, followed by the neighboring town of Veytaux. In 2010 the property was purchased by investors who plan to make the site a wine storage facility and tasting facility.[9] Tours may be instituted in the future.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Moret, J.C. "Articulation du dispositif du Chablais" (in French). Association Fort de Litroz. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Moret, J.C. "Fort de Chillon A390" (in French). Association Fort de Litroz. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  3. ^ Clement, V. "Fort de Chillon" (in French). Fort de Chillon. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  4. ^ Moret, J.C. "Les fortifications du Chablais" (in French). Association Fort de Litroz. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Position de Barrage Chillon" (PDF). Monuments militaires dans les cantons de Vaud et Genève (in French). Swiss Ministry of Defense, Public Protection and Sports. pp. 38–39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-26.
  6. ^ Croset, Alain. "Petit mémoire sur le fort de Chillon". ASSO-Vaud (in French). Association Suisse de Sous-Officiers, Vaud. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
  7. ^ Moret, J.C. "Le terrain" (in French). Association Fort de Litroz. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  8. ^ Goumaz, Céline (January 9, 1998). "Le Fort de Chillon s'ouvre au public: une première: Les touristes ne se doutent de rien". 24 heures (in French). Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  9. ^ a b Di Matteo, Karim (February 11, 2010). "Le fort militaire de Chillon deviendra cave de prestige". 24 heures (in French). Retrieved 10 January 2011.

External linksEdit