German pre-fabricated observation post from Assevillers, near Peronne

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Peronne
Accession Number RELAWM04477.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Technology
Physical description Concrete, Steel
Place made Germany
Date made c 1917-18
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

This pre-fabricated bullet-proof steel observation post is constructed from four interlinking three-quarter circular sections, one complete circular section, and is capped with a domed section. Three observation slots are fixed into the uppermost fully circular section. There are steel carrying handles secured to either side of each section, and each section consists of an inner and outer skin, rivetted together. The resultant space could then be filled with poured concrete, as is the domed section of this particular example. Two strengthening bars are bolted across the rear of the assembly, above and below the entrance. There are bullet or shrapnel strikes to the upper domed section. The interior is labelled in black stencilling and white paint in a number of areas, the most significant of which is "TROPHY NO 9795". This matches the Australian War Records Section number. A door (missing) would have been fitted to the rear of the post, and was attached by three gudgeons which are rivetted onto the doorway.

History / Summary

This prefabricated steel observation post was found near Assevillers, a few miles from Peronne in the area captured on the 29th August, 1918, when the Australians drove the Germans across the Somme.

The bullet proof chamber is constructed in several sections from thick steel, and its sections may be easily handled and transported to any desired position. It was the general rule to dig these chambers into the side of a trench and conceal the portion which protruded above the parapet with either sandbags or spoil. Each section consists of an inner and outer skin, the space between being filled with concrete during the process of erecting the chamber, thus increasing substantially its resistance to enemy fire.

This example was recovered Lieutenant Henry Raphael, Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion. On 31 August, Raphael was detached for "War Trophy Salvage" (the Cyclist Battalion war diary notes). A veteran of the 8th Light Horse Regiment, Raphael (a solicitor from South Africa) was detached to the Cyclist Corps in March 1916.

The Official History notes that Assevillers, part of a new German outpost line to the south of the River Somme, running between Herbecourt and Belloy about 12 kilometres to the west of Peronne, was being held by the German 2nd Guard Division when the areas was captured by the 32nd and 29th Battalions on 29 August, 1918. From here they steadily advanced towards Peronne and Mont St Quentin over the next 2 days. The post was collected by the Australian War Records Section on 14 October, presumably not having moved very far from its original location.