World War I Section
Abri 320 - Underground shelter Douaumont - WWI
Abri 320, an underground shelter built in 1870
Abri 320 is an underground shelter built between 1889 and 1891, after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
It dates from the same time than the defense forts of Douaumont, Vaux, Froideterre and Souville.
The shelter is located 334m above sea level, at the foot of the Douaumont National Cemetery and Ossuary.
During WWI, it was located at the rear of two other defense positions, the Ouvrage de Thiaumont and the Abri combat TD1.
Abri 320 was nearly demolished in 1915, during the phase of disarmament of the surrounding forts.
Abri 320, reused during WWI
However, the dynamics of the great German offensive of February 1916, the Battle of Verdun, forced the government to come back on the disarmament!
Abri 320 served as an underground shelter for the troops fighting on the sector.
However, it was also served as a dressing station and a command post.
The Germans captured it on several occasions between June and October 1916, but the French re-seized it each time.
Regularly bombed by German heavy artillery, it easily escaped destruction thanks to the interior design of its structure.
Abri 320 is indeed located 12m underground.
It consists of a huge 60m long room with a capacity of 300 berths.
Two underground galleries, fiercely protected by exterior and interior guard posts and various bunkers, accessed this room.
Two massive chimneys, still visible on the outside, ensured the ventilation.
The ground located above and around the shelter has been left in its war state.
Vegetation today softens the contours of the ancient shell craters, but it's easy to imagine the devastation of the battlefield!
It is obvious that the shelter's depth and lay-out were highly effective at protecting it from enemy artillery fire!
Other sites of the Battle of Verdun
Citadel of Verdun - Sacred Way – Douaumont Ossuary and National Cemetery – Bayonet Trench – Fort of Douaumont - Fleury-devant-Douaumont "Village Détruit - Maginot Monument in Fleury-devant-Douaumont
Department of Meuse - Lorraine region - Grand Est
Coordinates: Lat 49.206316 - Long 5.426588