Mann Taylor's Home Page
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|There are numerous military forts built across the Sahara (mainly by the French but also by the Italians) during the last century and a bit. The following has been written with the assistance of Colonel Michel Vallet.|
(south of present
day Djanet) was built on the site of the Senussi zawiya on the orders of
Captain Edouard Charlet, the commander of the French detachment which entered
the village of El Mihan, one of four which made up the oasis of Djanet.
Construction was started on 26 November 1911 and the building was occupied
from 3 December 1911. (Today the name Djanet denotes the township established
to the north of the fort.
Miribel (south of El Golea)
was built in 1894 after the capture of El Golea in 1891 by French troops. They
were advance posts intended to protect EI Golea against incursions from Touat
and Gourara and to prepare the way for the annexation of these two regions.
The name Miribel refers to General Miribel of the Algerian troops, who planned the conquest of Touat. 'Fort Mirabelle' as in the above book, is yet another figment of the authors' imagination.
Gardel (north west of Djanet)
replaced the block house in Tigougelt, which stood slightly to the south. It
was built on the site of Zaouatanlaz (called Zaouatallaz on some maps), on the
track between Djanet and Dider. It was given the name of Gardel, the victor
at Essayen, who died on 8 April 1916 on the European Front. Lt. Gabriel Gardel,
led the Ajjer group of the Compagnie Saharienne du Tidikelt under Capt. Charlet.
At Esseyen, near Ghat, on 8 April 1913 he won a notable action against a raiding
party of vastly superior numbers from the Fezzan. He was deeply interested in
the Tuareg, and his copious notes on the Kel Ajjer were finally edited and published
posthumously in 1961. He died in that action in 1916, leaving a young son. His
grandson Louis Gardel is now a well-known author, one of whose recent novel
"Fort Saganne" is based on his grandfather's life. At the time of
Algerian independence, Fort Gardel was renamed Fort Haoues (sometimes spelt
Fort Haouasse). Since the administrative reorganisation of December 1986 this
has been combined with the town of Djanet to form the Daiza of Djanet (Wilaya
153 travellers of the 60s and 70s will of course know Fort Gardel for its wall paintings (plus graffiti) of Snow White and the seven Dwarfssee Happy and Sneezy to the left.
|Fort Laperrine was built in 1927 when Tamarasset was annexed. This fort was for the new Saharan Company of the Hoggar, formed in part from the mobile group from Fort Motylinski, who came from the Saharan Company of Tidikelt (In Salah) and which was just being dissolved. Fort Motylinksi was therefore abandoned. The new fort was given the name of General Laperrine, who had been buried near Père de Foucauld after being killed in an aeroplane accident in 1930 at Anesbarakka, about 130 km to the south of In Guezzam.|
|Fort Flatters (at Temassinine) commemorates the leader of the disastrous 1881 Trans-Saharan Mission. It was established in 1904 near the zawiya of Sidi Moussa at Temassinine where there was a small population of Kel Iforas Tuareg. At that time it was an important staging-post between Illizi and the northern oases; Captain Charlet did much to improve the water supply, and encouraged the Tuareg to grow vegetables and to make leather and embroidered articles for sale in northern markets. There is also a 'redoute' Flatters near In Azaoua well on the Algeria/Niger border. This was a temporary store built by Foureau on his epic journey to Chad at the turn of the century. Many of his camels had died, and so to lighten the load of the remainder he left some stores here while he continued on into the Aïr to find fresh camels.|
|Fort Motylinski was the first French fort in the Ahaggar, built in 1908-9 at Tarhaouhaout, the Tuareg winter grazing area about 40km from Tamanrasset. Captain de Calassanti-Motylinski was a military interpreter, a noted linguist and Arabic scholar who was a friend of Charles de Foucauld. In 1906 he spent some months with de Foucauld in the Ahaggar, and produced a Tamahak grammar. He died in 1907. In April 1916 Père de Foucauld was faced with the threat of attacks by the Senussi, but refused to take refuge in Fort Molylinski, choosing instead to remain with his freed slaves. With the help of French soldiers who were working on the Meniet track, he built a little fort which he called The Castle' and which after his death in December 1916 was called Foucauld's Fort.|
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