Legion Forts: Ain Ben Tili (2)

Those who have ever blogged or maintained a website or even updates a Facebook page always look forward to reading comments made by visitors, guests and friends.  Last week I actually had several constructive comments on various posts on this blog and, best of all, a reader also offered to share some pictures of the old Foreign Legion fort at Ain Ben Tili in eastern Mauritania.  Of course I said “Yes! Please! SVP!”.  The photos below were taken by Jean-Pierre, an officer of the French Army, while he was on a 6-month MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the organization of a Referendum in Western Sahara) tour in the western Saharan desert in 2007.  The Bir Lehlou Observer Team Site in Eastern Mauritania (one of five) would often conduct patrols near this fort and it was on one of their patrols that these pictures were taken.

I had posted previously on Ain Ben Tili last year and included every picture I could find on the internet.  LINK.  However, Jean-Pierre’s photos provide a much more detailed view of the small fort’s walls and interior.  One might recognize in several of these pictures that some portions of the walls have suffered the effects of small arms fire.  This was from the fighting between the Mauritanian Army and the POLISARIO rebels who briefly captured and held this fort for three weeks in 1976.  Also interesting to see is the brickwork appears to be a mixture of mud brick and local stone that has been covered over with a lighter sealing type of plaster.  This was necessary since once the elements (rain) attack the mud bricks they quickly start to deteriorate.  One can imagine in the 1930’s that the Legionnaires stationed here kept this fort in tip-top condition and any cracked plaster was quickly sealed up.  Also the last three photo’s show the grave of Brigadier (Corporal) Tison.  This site is kept up by the MINURSO team as often as they can and (in the one photo) decorated with ribbon on Bastille Day, 14 July.  Legionnaire Tison was part of the 5th Squadron of the 1st Foreign Legion Cavalry Regiment (REC).  Honneur et fidélité!

Merci boucoup Jean-Pierre for sharing these pictures.

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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7 Responses to Legion Forts: Ain Ben Tili (2)

  1. Richard says:

    Hi Jack

    Very interested to see your website. Like you I have had a lifelong interest in the Legion stemming form my Dad reading me Beau Geste when I was a child. I am currently running an archaeological project studying Legion remains in Morocco which you may find of interest. We carry out field work on an annual basis and have just completed an expedition to a Legion blockhouse near Boudenib which was subjected to a major attach in 1908 (legion equivalent to Rorkes Drift scenario).

    The research programme has three more years to run before we start writing up the results.

    Very happy to exchange links if you are interested.


  2. MALBOSC says:

    What a great souvenir of my mission in the team-site Bir Lehlou observer
    Captain Pierre (code Q 133) of the French army in 1994.

    Que de souvenirs de ma mission au team-site de BIRLALOU
    Pierre (code Q 133) Capitaine de l’armée française en 1994.


  3. Bois-Margnac says:

    Hi everybody !
    Crossing the desert from Tindouf to Atar, September 1955, I spent two days in the Fort and capture one photo in B&W.
    Are you interested ?

    Best regards
    Jean-Paul Bois-Margnac


  4. Pingback: Patrimoine architectural colonial en Mauritanie. (I) Le Nord et l’Adrar – Préhistoire de l'Ouest Saharien

  5. Victor says:

    À 2005-2006 moi était l’observateur de la Russie dans la mission de l’ONU au Sahara Occidental. J’ai visité plusieurs fois dans le fort d’Ajn-Bentili, j’ai quelques dizaines des photos qui je peux vous accorder. Respectueusement Victor.


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