Legion Forts: Bou Jerif

It seems that many travelers to North Africa and the Sahara call every half standing ruin of a fortress they come across as “an old French Foreign Legion fort”.  Sometimes it is difficult to know if the fort was a true “built-from-the-ground up” by Legion labor and manned by Legion garrisons fort or one built by a contractor and manned by other troops of L’Armée d’Afrique.  Such might be the case for Bou Jerif.  Many references made to this fort on the various tourist web sites call it a former Foreign Legion fort but I found no historical information about this fort on Galica or Google books or anywhere else on the net.  (I’m still searching by different names)  What I could find out was that Bou Jerif was built by the French in 1935 during the last fighting against the recalcitrant tribes in Morocco before WWII.  It was constructed along the southern border of one of the remaining Spanish coastal enclaves known as Sidi Ifni.  The border was established along a fairly broad river valley (the Uad Asaca) that runs from the southern slopes of the Anti-Atlas Mountains to the ocean.  The fort itself is about 6km from the ocean and situated on the high ground overlooking much of the river valley.  There were also two watch towers located on adjacent hilltops to the west and east of the main fort.  The fort was abandoned by the French when they withdrew from Morocco in 1956 and was occupied the Moroccans until 1969, when the Spaniards abandoned Sidi Ifni and their occupation of the Spanish Sahara.  Then the fort apparently fell into complete disrepair when the Moroccan’s had no further need for it.  It is a huge construction compared to many of the other desert forts.  It has several towers, dozens of rooms, some outlying buildings, multiple courtyards, and what appears to be a large assembly area for vehicles or horses (the large enclosed square to the west).  This is a popular destination for tourists (4X4 enthusiasts, bird watchers, etc.) and there are some websites that offer camping and tours of the area.  The fort is well photographed because of this.  I’ve taken some photo’s found on the web as well as Panaramio, Flickr and some Google Earth shots and compiled them together in a .pdf.  The large photos came from this Panaramio page.     Fort Bou Jerif

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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