AOK7 and FdU Welcomes the CIOS
November 2015, the annual trip by the Concrete Evidence Team and CIOS Members this year decided to go off the beaten track to discover some less well known structures.
First, was the AOK 7 (Armee Oberkommando 7) HQ bunker in Le Mans. With very grateful thanks to the immensely knowledgeable and friendly Hugo Soulet and the team at the AOK7 Association. A highly unique Type 608 Bunker built for no lesser person than Generaloberst Freidrich Dollman the commander of the 7th Army, which the Channel Islands were a sub-ordinate part of.
The story of this bunker is as compelling as the fact that this isn’t a “restoration job” as might be perceived, in fact this bunker has one of the highest percentages of complete, intact original fittings one could hope to find. Only very minor and discrete additions have been sympathetically made, making this an absolute joy for any serious bunker enthusiast, think Millbrook for authenticity….but bigger and with no paint applied! In our harsh coastal environment rust and corrosion is the norm, well in this humble 608 many doors, embrasures, fixtures and fittings all move with effortless ease. As Hugo put it himself “No Grease”, and it is true, the structure is so good there is practically no lubrication on some of the metalwork because quite simply…none is needed the Leichte Stahlschartenplatte für MG 483P2 were great to use as normally they are discovered rusted up.
A highly recommended visit to a little known and truly original bunker. Credit and thanks to Hugo and his team not only for keeping it going, but realising and making the brave decision to keep it as the time capsule it is…inspired work.
Next, the FdU Bunkers at Angers (Führer des U-Boots). When the progress of war became more threatening to the Kriegmarine, Admrial Doenitz was forced to consider relocation first to Paris in 1942 and then to Angers in 1943. 10 extremely large and unique bunkers with serious history behind them reside in the ground of a Chateau near Pignerolles in Angers.
The team didn’t quite know what they were getting into and a friendly guide in the shape of Christophe Marquet from the Association Des Bunker Anger spent several hours in the pouring rain giving our guests a first class tour of the grounds and special access to some truly unique bunker types that even their Association cannot currently classify! Indeed there were both design elements and metalwork features that completely departed from most Coastal installations one sees. The who area had a feel of immense size and huge A-Graded Strength constructions that one could easily associate should be for the Leader of the U-Boats.
Opulence was understated, or not as the case may be. Doenitz had his own room in the Chateau and a very long private tunnel leading to his own personal command bunker (called the Admiral Bunker), which to show to important it was became a Cold War command bunker for no less a personality than General Charles de Gaulle! In fact a few bunkers on the site retain their French Cold War fitting, which of course to Neil was a fantastic comparison to his UK knowledge of the subject. Immense bunkers, a custom built swimming pool for officers, secret tunnels, offered a Headquarter setup of serious proportion. There are question marks over the future of the Chateau as the museum there may close at the end of the year, who knows what will happen then, so whatever limited window available was taken.
Again massive thanks to Christophe Marquet and his Association Mémorial des bunkers de Pignerolles.
Photos and text by Neil Walker