Longues-sur-Mer battery

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The Longues-sur-Mer battery was a World War II artillery battery constructed by the Wehrmacht near the French village of Longues-sur-Mer in Normandy. It formed a part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications. The battery was completed by April 1944. Although constructed and manned initially by the Kriegsmarine, the battery was later transferred to the German army. The site consisted of four 152-mm navy guns, each protected by a large concrete casemate, a command post, shelters for personnel and ammunition, and several defensive machine-gun emplacements.

The battery Longues-sur-Mer (in German Marinekustenbatterie Longues-sur-Mer) is one of the range of fire wall Atlantic, located in the coastal town of Longues-sur-Mer in Calvados. The site consisted of four 150-mm long-range marine guns, each protected by a reinforced concrete pillbox, and various facilities for serving and defending them. Located in the Allied landing zone in Normandy, between the beaches of Omaha Beach and Gold Beach ( D day beaches ) , the battery was subjected to intense air and naval bombardment preventing it from fully entering into action on D-Day and was taken as soon as possible. the next day by British troops. Classified as a historical monument, it is in a good state of conservation. The site is landscaped and has become a frequent crossing point during visits to the landing sites.

Location, construction and composition :  The Longues-sur-Mer MKB (code WN 48) stands atop a slight ridge about 450 meters from the shore, halfway between Port-en-Bessin in the west and Arromanches in the east and eight kilometers north of Bayeux.

Built from September 1943 for the Kriegsmarine6, it is typical of German coastal defense batteries, it includes 4 casemates type Regelbau M2727 with wall and ceiling reinforced concrete of two meters thick6, installed 300 meters back from the top of the small coastal cliff. Each houses a 150 mm TK C / 367 naval piece (Torpedobootkanone – cannon for destroyers, built by Skoda in Pilsen6) on center pivot mount (Mittelpivotlafette – MPL) TL C / 36 (Torpedolafette – lookout for destroyer, sort of turret open on the back). These naval guns had a range of about 20,000 meters. At the rear of each of the four firing rooms were two ammunition chambers, one containing gunpowder and the other shells.

A firing direction post (Regelbau M262A7 type) located 300 meters in front of the casemates, at the edge of the coastal cliff, commanded their fires. It was equipped with the then most modern fire control system among the batteries of the Normandy coast. Electrically, it automatically provided gun coordinates6. It had two floors, one in height for the observation and calculation of the distance and the other more buried, for tracking targets.

The protection of the battery was considerably improved in the spring of 1944, in the efforts led by Marshal Rommel in early 1944 to strengthen the Atlantic Wall in Normandy but all work was not fully completed in June 1944.

In addition to the casemates, which were completed in May 19446, the site was equipped with three airfield protection7 equipped with 20 mm flaks and for ground defense, various small bunkers and tobrouks and a barbed wire belt. Trenches of protection connected the various installations, allowing a circulation even when the batteries were firing. For night fights, the battery had a projector and a Soviet K390 gun 122 mm, taken on the Eastern Front, and responsible for shooting illumination.

Like many other Kriegsmarine coastal batteries located far from the major ports (it was then dependent on the maritime command of Cherbourg) and to harmonize the defense command of the sector, it passed under the control of the army late 19438. Conversely coastal batteries built for the Wehrmacht, the navy had favored for its own the installation of fixed, non-transportable guns and more closed bunkers at the rear (on the contrary, for example, from the army battery to the point of the Hoc).

The battery of Longues-sur-Mer had a garrison of 180 men. In addition, stationed nearby, an infantry battalion could strengthen its defense in case of land attack.

Facing the landing
The Longues-sur-Mer battery was practically at the edge of the American landing area, to the west, and Anglo-Canadian, to the east. The range of the 4 guns allowed the battery to catch fire in Omaha Beach and Gold Beach as well as the offshore buildings.

Like the other fortifications of the Atlantic Wall, it underwent allied bombing during 1944, including two massive bombings the week before the landing6. These two air raids did not reduce the capacity of the guns but they destroyed the underground electrical wiring connecting the firing station to the casemates of shooting which would force the Germans, on the day of the landing, to use visual signals much less effective for the direction their shots.

On the morning of June 6, 1944, at 5.30 am, the British cruiser HMS Ajax opened fire on the battery without causing major damage. Around 6 am, the battery opened fire on HMS Bulolo6, an allied command ship for the Gold Beach area, forcing him to change positions. HMS Ajax and HMS Argonaut then come closer and resume shooting against the German battery6. The fire stopped at 8.45 am, 2 guns were put out of service by direct fire in the embrasure6 of the casemate. Both ships fired more than 179 times on the battery.

German soldiers are taking advantage of this morning’s respite to reopen and repair what may be and open fire towards Omaha Beach. These shots attract the attention of the French cruiser Georges Leygues, then in support of the difficult American landing on this beach6 which puts out of state of fire the battery which will have fired 115 times in this day6. German crews will also use the Soviet 122-mm gun, which is barely protected, to fire on the beaches of Gold and Omaha.

The next day, the German Infantry Protection Battalion is recalled to Bayeux. In the morning, the battery undergoes a new aerial bombardment of the RAF and it is taken at the end of the morning by the company C of the 2nd regiment of Devonshire6 without difficulties against Germans whose will to continue to fight had probably been largely started by bombing, putting the cannons out of action and isolating the rest of the German army. The remaining 120 men from the garrison of 180 soldiers surrender.

The site after the war
The Longues-sur-Mer Battery Firing Station, along with the surrounding batteries, served as a backdrop for one of the scenes in The Longest Day Film, released in 1962.

24 of the 60 hectares of the site (including the location of the batteries and the firing point) are the property of the Conservatoire du littoral.

After being listed in 1994, the Longues-sur-Mer battery was classified as a historic monument on October 25, 2001.

Nowadays, the interest of this battery is due to the good state of its bunkers and to the fact that it retains its parts of 150 mm of origin. The site is one of the places of passage when visiting the landing sites, attended by 500 000 visitors per year.

Access : Coordinates: 49.3435, -0.695 / The German Battery (Batterie allemande) at Longues-sur-Mer is around 10 km directly north of Bayeux, just off the main coastal road, roughly halfway between Arromanches and the American Military Cemetery at Colleville. Signposting is clear.

Opening Times :  Open to the public all year /  Location : Rue de la Battery , 14400Longues-Sur-Mer , Calvados – France /  Parking: Free parking on site.

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