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11
Battery Longues-sur-Mer

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After Hitler stupidly invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, he found himself fighting on two fronts (soon to be three in North Africa and later, Italy). The Eastern Front quickly sucked up nearly all Germany's men & materiel, so Hitler tried the oldest defense in the book to cover his Western rear end: fortress-building. His propaganda machine trumpeted the Atlantic Wall as Festung Europa ("Fortress Europe"), though most of the coasts of Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries and France were lightly-protected at best. After Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was put in charger of the Atlantic Wall in November 1943, improvements were made.

But not enough to stop the Allies in June, 1944.

One of the places where the Germans got serious about building hardened positions was Longues-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast. Near the medieval treasure of Bayeux, and smack in the middle of the Operation Overlord invasion beaches Omaha and Gold, these four artillery bunkers and their attendant command & control bunkers are still quite formidable nearly seventy years after the battle.

Perched on bluffs high above the rocky shore and set back several hundred yards from the edge of the cliffs, Longues-sur-Mer's 152mm/6" naval guns were intended to destroy any invasion fleet more than repel invaders. However, Hitler vastly underestimated the 6,000 Allied ships that would bring the Western Front to him on D-Day. The average cruiser had at least twice the firepower of these four guns. In spite of overwhelming odds, the battery acquitted itself tolerably well, even after a pounding from Allied air power and naval bombardment: the British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut had to disable three of the four guns, with the crews eventually surrendering to British infantry on June 7th.

The battery is at the end of a long, country road, and is open to the public. It costs nothing to visit, though paid guided tours can be booked. Paths take visitors along the front of the open casemates where three of the four guns are still in-place, though sadly time and the elements are taking their toll on them. Atop the bluffs is a command bunker right out of the film "The Longest Day" that is explorable despite some nasty shell holes. Off to the right of the bluffs, out in the surf off Gold Beach are the remains of one of the man-made harbors at Arromanches.

The Normandy coastline has many surviving bunkers, but Longues-sur-Mer is one of the best-preserved. It doesn't take a lot of imagination strolling through them to go back in time to June 6, 1944.

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About the Author

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.


Comments

Hi, Thanks for sharing those pictures.
JUN 14, 2013 - 10:08 AM
Awesome. Love bunkers and permanent fighting positions. Thank you for sharing.
JUN 14, 2013 - 02:02 PM
Thanks Bill! I cannot get enough of these scenes, what a madd world it must have been back then. ~ Jeff
JUN 15, 2013 - 12:26 AM
Thanks, Gents, I'm glad you're enjoying. I have at least two more of these photo features "in the can" and waiting to space them out a bit. It was an awesome tour with the Young Swain, whom you see sitting astride the 6" gun.
JUN 17, 2013 - 02:33 AM
What a nice time it looks like that you guys have had. Can't wait for the next installments. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Did you sample any of that good Belgian beer ?
JUN 17, 2013 - 07:12 AM
Wine in Normandy, beer in Alsace, Bastogne and Germany! Local beers rock. Best beer? Paeffgen in Cologne.
JUN 17, 2013 - 07:46 AM
Hi, i was on the D-Day to Rhine tour (other bus) this was the most awesome experience, would recommend to anyone with a interest in WWII history, just make sure to hold on to your passport! another story another day!
JUN 20, 2013 - 11:56 AM
This place would make a great diorama subject.
FEB 24, 2016 - 04:54 AM