Group Fortification Yser, Feste Prinz Regent Luitpold, France
After the Franco-Prussion war of 1870, the Alsace-Lorraine region was annexed into the newly formed German Empire, with the city of Metz forming an important German Garrison Town within the newly created German Empire. Metz played an important strategic military role within the German Empire due to its proximity to France, lead the Germans to build a fortified lines around Metz to supplement the original line of forts that had been constructed by the French before the Franco-Prussian war. The fortifications of Metz formed part of a wider program of fortifications called “Moselstellung”, encompassing fortresses scattered between Thionville and Metz in the valley Moselle. Germany’s aim was to protect against a French attack to take back Alsace-Lorraine and Moselle from the German Empire. The fortification system was designed to accommodate the growing advances in artillery since seen at the start of the 20th century. Based on new defensive concepts, such as dispersal and concealment, the fortified group was to form an impassable barrier for French forces. Throughout the annexation, the garrison around Metz consisted of between 15,000 and 20,000 soldiers, which exceeded 25,000 men at the start of the First World War, gradually becoming the first stronghold of German Reich. The Second fortified belt of Metz composed of Festen Wagner (1904-1912), Crown Prince (1899 – 1905), Leipzig (1907–1912), Empress (1899-1905), Lorraine (1899-1905), Freiherr von der Goltz (1907–1916), Haeseler (1899-1905), Prince Regent Luitpold (1907-1914) and Infantry-Werk Belle-Croix (1908-1914).
Covering an area of 83 hectares, the Feste Prince Regent Luitpold was constructed between 1907 to 1914 and consists of 2 fortified barracks that can accommodate a total of 560 men, two separate artillery batteries each consisting of three 100mm artillery pieces; a further two 77mm artillery pieces were installed on the roof of the main barrack blockhouse. Furthermore, eight observation cupolas and twenty sentry posts were installed throughout the site. The blockhouses are connected by 1,700m of underground galleries and tunnels and protected by caponiers, ditches, wire entanglements, foot spikes and spiked palisade fence. Power to the facility is provided by seven 27 horsepower diesel engines & dynamos.
During The Annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, the fort received a garrison of gunners belonging to the XVIth Army Corps from the German Army. From 1914-1918, it served as a relay for the German soldiers serving on the front lines, during this time its equipment and weapons are then at the forefront of military technology. After World War One, the fort was occupied by the French army. After the departure of French troops in June 1940 during World War 2, the German army retakes the fort. In early September 1944, at the beginning of the Battle of Metz, the German command integrates the fort into the defensive system set up around Metz. During the battle of Metz, Feste Prinz Regent Luitpold suffered severe damage due to Allied bombing with one of the artillery batteries being demolished, the Fort surrendered towards the end of November, 1944, however the German Army did not leave the Metz area until December 1944 having been successful in their objective stalling the American advance at Metz for the lingest time possible, to enable the German Army to withdraw to the Siegfried Line in good order.
The Fort sits derelict and in ruins to this day.