The “Do you know” of the day. Do you know why the people of Nancy have very bad memories of “Gros Max”?

The “Do you know” of the day. Do you know why the people of Nancy have very bad memories of “Gros Max”?
The “Do you know” of the day. Do you know why the people of Nancy have very bad memories of “Gros Max”?

“Big Max” is the nickname given by the inhabitants of Nancy to a 380 artillery piece which bombarded Nancy during the war of 14-18.

Originally, these guns were intended to equip a new class of cruisers in the German Navy. Having left the factories in 1913, this modern equipment could not equip the warships, the German general staff having been taken by surprise by the start of the war on August 3, 1914. The decision to arm the new cruisers was therefore postponed until later.

So what should we do with these fire hydrants that have suddenly become useless? Our adversaries had the simple idea of ​​using these large calibers on the land front, they made some modifications by increasing, for example, their range to 30, even 40 km. Note that the famous “Caesar” cannon, used by the French army today, fires shells at a distance of 40 km. This shows the efficiency of the German war industry of the time.

Thirteen killed and 24 injured

The “Gros Max”, real name “Langer Max”, was used for the first time on January 1, 1916, ten shells were fired at the ducal city. The “Gros Max” had been carefully camouflaged in the Hampont forest in the Château-Salins sector, in annexed Lorraine, 33 km as the crow flies from Nancy.

The bombings continued throughout 1916, then the famous cannon was transferred by the Germans to a secret location. Results of the bombings: 13 killed and 24 injured. It was especially the districts of Rue Jeanne d’Arc, Place de la Croix de Bourgogne, and Jarville (station and barracks) which suffered from these bombings.

For the record, we can see an unexploded 380 shell at the Villers-le-Sec fort.

In total, 110 bombings took place from September 4, 1914 to October 31, 1918. Even if Nancy also suffered other types of aerial bombardments, or even with 130 mm guns, it was the “Gros Max” which had the heaviest psychological impact on the population.

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