The Artillery

The artillery of Garderhøjfort


The Garderhøjfort was fully up-to-date when constructed. There were disappearing turrets, which protected the soldiers and the guns in two ways. The turret was protected with heavy armour and it could be lifted up when shooting and immediately lowered for reloading. The lifting and lowering and turning of the turret as well as supply of ammunition were all man powered.

The gun gallery

A great part of the artillery was placed in the gun gallery. The artillery of the Garderhøjfort comprised: Four 15 centimetres guns, two 75 millimetres, two 53 millimetres and four 47 millimetresguns plus machineguns and rifles. The two “long” 15 centimetres guns were placed in the twin gun turret. The artillery of the Garderhøjfort was heavy and modern in 1892 when the fort was completed. The range of the artillery varied, so the fort could engage the enemy at long distances as well as in the close defence of the fort. The construction of the Garderhøjfort was partly a reaction of the 1864 War, when earthworks did not protect the Danish soldiers efficiently against the enemy artillery.

The long-range guns were placed on the top of the covered artillery barracks. The short-range weapons were directed towards the moats and the terrain close to the fort. Part of the artillery could be aimed at other parts of the fortification system in case an enemy had conquered these.

The disappearing turrets made the soldiers invisible

The principle of a disappearing turret was that the turret could be lifted or lowered according to the needs. When the turret was not in use, it was lowered into the fort and thus invisible for the enemy. To open fire, the turret was lifted so the cupola with the gun was up in the open. After firing, the turret was lowered again. In this way the turret was only visible the shortest possible time. The loading and overall adjustment of the direction could be done in the lowered position. When lifted, the shot was fired after the fine adjustment of the direction.

A strong fort

The Garderhøjfort was supplied with artillery and turrets from England, France, Sweden and Germany. The question is: Would the fort be the winner in case of attack? Luckily, this was never tested. The military assessment is that the Garderhøjfort was of a strong construction with so much artillery that it would demand a substantial force of soldiers and artillery to besiege and made a direct assault on the ford. The Garderhøjfort has also been compared to the French forts at Verdun, which were taken by the Germans. The conclusion is, that the Garderhøjfort was stronger than the Verdun forts.

The Guns

Two 53 millimetre rapid firing guns made in Germany

The two disappearing turrets each with a 53 mm gun were bought at the “Grusonwerk” in Germany. By releasing a counterweight below, the turret was lifted up to the firing position.

Two 15 centimetre guns in single turrets

Two 15 centimetre armour protected gun carriages also made by “Grusonwerk” are placed in the centre of the fort deck. Each of them with a 15 centimetre short gun (howitzer) made from another German firm, “Krupp”.

The cupola is 15 centimetre thick. The top floor is for the gun and the bottom floor for the ammunition. The communication between the two levels was through a speaking tube.

Ingeniør kopi

Observation turrets

Next to the 15 centimetre turrets there are two observation turrets made in Denmark, also constructed as disappearing turrets. The turrets were used for observation and direction of fire from the artillery. The turret consisted of a cupola with observation holes for the artillery officer, who thus was well protected. He sat down with a small mapping table as a desk and also used a direction scale inside the turret and a detailed panorama sketch of the terrain to point out targets.

Two 15 centimetre Guns in a twin turret

The two guns in the twin turret were the heaviest artillery of the Garderhøjfort. The tower and its machinery comprised to floors. The upper floor housed the two guns in their gun carriages 1.5 meter next to each other. The gun commander was placed between the two guns. Ammunition stores were in the casemates below the gun turret. A manpowered lift supplied the turret with ammunition from the stores. The turret was turned from a capstan in the lower floor of the turret.

The twin turret was in a lower position than the towers in the forward artillery gallery. This meant that the tower could only fire directly to the East, South and West. If the target was to the North, the firing method was indirect. At direct firing, the gun commander could observe through a manhole with a lid, and he could use a sighting groove with foresight like on a riffle. If the target was to the North, the guns had to be aimed from the lower floor where the circular scale could give the direction. If the gun commander ordered the guns to point at the Ermelund Bridge, the direction was already known, and the turret was turned into the right position using the circular scale.

In the lower floor some of the information about the vital prepared targets are still to be seen on the wall. The range of the two “long guns” (cannons) in the twin turret was 5,700 meters, because there was a limit for the elevation in the tower.

Two 75 millimetres rapid firing guns

On the wings of the fort deck there were in total two disappearing turrets each with a 75 millimetres rapid firing gun. The turrets were from the French factory in “Saint Chamond”, and the guns from the German firm “Krupp”. Before firing the gun, it should be pushed forward and out through the gun port in the side of the turret. There was space for 42 cartridges in the tower. When firing, a new supply of ammunition was lifted up from the lower floor of the turret.

For close defence:

Four 47 millimetres rapid firing guns

To secure the moats around the fort, a variety of guns were placed in galleries. From the gorge gallery the gorge a 47 millimetres gun and machineguns covered moat and the main entrance. From the infantry barracks it was possible to cover the front moat and the two flanking moats. The gallery in the Northwest corner contained two 47 millimetres guns and in the Northeast gallery there was one 47 millimetres gun. Additionally, the galleries contained machineguns and a spotlight.

The calibre of a gun

A gun named 15 centimetre means that the calibre is 15 centimeter, so the diameter of the barrel is 15 centimeter. You can monitor a video from the hoisting of a reserve barrel from the ground floor in the casemates up to the twin turret. The original barrels were scrapped when the fort was disarmed in 1920. Luckily, identical reserve barrels were found, so the twin turret is now equipped as when the fort was built around 1890.