The Fort de la Pompelle was built between 1880 and 1883 to complete the fortification belt around Reims that was started by General Raymond Adolphe Séré de Rivières after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. This secondary work was planned to support the principal forts of Witry-les-Reims, Nogent-l'Abbesse, Brimont, Saint-Thierry, Fresnes and Montbré. The relatively small rectangular fort was surrounded by a ditch defended by two-level caponiers. With a surface area of 2.31 hectares, it was provided with six 155mm de Bange 1881 guns, four 138mm guns and a variety of lesser pieces. An artillery company of 277 men garrisoned the fort. In 1917-18 a number of underground passages were cut from the chalk to provide access points a few hundred meters to the rear of the fort.
The fort was disarmed in 1913, immediately prior to the First World War. During the offensives of 1914, the fort was briefly taken by German forces on 4 September. Following the First Battle of the Marne it was reoccupied by French forces of the 138th Infantry Regiment on 24 September 1914. The fort then became a principal part in the defense of the Reims sector. In the remainder of the war, the fort was assaulted and bombarded many times by the Germans, but never changed hands again.
A total of 180 different regiments, including two special Russian brigades sent by Tsar Nicholas II in 1916 would defend the fort in turn. The garrison was supported by naval artillery stationed on the canal between Sept Saulx and Courmelois, which bombarded the German lines. The fort saw particularly strong assaults in the spring of 1918 in the Second Battle of the Marne, when it was assaulted three times, on 1 June with fifteen tanks. Each assault was repelled by the elements of the 1st Colonial Infantry Corps.
After the First World War, the Fort de la Pompelle was abandoned for nearly forty years and was finally listed for sale by the Administration des Domaines in November 1955. Supported by veterans' groups, the fort was purchased by the Fédération Nationale André Maginot which sold the site to the city of Reims for one symbolic franc.
Classified as an historic monument on 23 March 1922, the fort is today a museum, inaugurated on 10 November 1972. The museum features an unusual collection of German army headgear, collected by Charles Freise.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.