Action at Bou Denib: Part 3

After soundly defeating the last pan-tribal harka on the Djorf plains northwest Bou Denib the French quickly set about to the task of establishing their colonial dominance over the region.  In their typical fashion they laid out a small European village to the north of the military redoubt of 1908.  European settlers no doubt were enticed to the area from Algeria and Morocco with the promise of doing business with the deep pockets of the French Colonial bureaucrats and the military.  In short order a “Jewish Quarter” materialized that supplemented the day-to-day business activities of the town.  The redoubt itself was turned into a large permanent military caserne able to provide a permanent base for a Brigade-sized force.  Tent cities were turned into permanent brick barracks buildings in the space of  several years.  All of the big-base amenities were built at Bou Denib and the Village.  Photos show an Officers Club (Cercle Des Officers), a restaurant (as early as 1909), a cinema, an Arab Affairs Bureau, various cafés and bars, a theater, a large garden, a Main Square and a hospital.   Eventually an airfield was established and there are accounts of military casualty evacuations conducted by airplane to the hospital at Bou Denib.

Looking at Bou Denib today (through the wonderful capabilities of Google Earth) one can still see remnants of what the French built there over 100 years ago.  The village has expanded considerably from what was shown on the map from 1917.  The redoubt however has changed and it appears many of the buildings constructed inside the perimeter walls were taken down and a newer construction exists to the west of the old redoubt.  The outline of the old layout does not quite match up anymore to the present arrangement of buildings and the wall.  There are plenty of towers but its possible that these and the walls were constructed sometime later.  Martin Windrow makes reference to Bou Denib (in his book “Our Friends Beneath the Sands”) as a place he visited and found to be dominated by an Algerian military base located on the old caserne. Today it appears that many of the old buildings in the redoubt have been leveled or are currently in ruin.

So that’s it for Bou Denib.  I get a kick out of looking at all this old stuff and then seeing whats left standing today via Google Maps/Earth.  Lots of forgotten history here.  I hope you enjoyed looking at these slides.  Again, this was not possible without using images Panaramio and from delcampe.

Bou Denib Part 3

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
This entry was posted in History, Legion Forts, Research. Bookmark the permalink.

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