Mont Canisy, Wn Vill
Behind the coastal town of Bénerville lies a large hill,
called ‘Mont-Canisy’. The Germans, who noticed the potential
strategic importance of this hill, with the view over the
whole bay of the Seine, began building here Widerstands Neste
(Wn Vill 013). The complex was of the type 2./HKAA 1255. On
top of the hill were six plateaus for 155mm cannons of French
In December, 1941, four guns were operational and the final
two in Februari, 1942. North of the hill, with the view over
the Seine bay, there were two range finding bunkers (they are
still there and open to visit). To defend the complex, the
German placed almost a dozen ’tobruks’. These small bunkers
contained machineguns and mortars. In Februari, 1942 Mont
Canisy was official inserted in the Atlantic Wall.
The two range
On the surface were interconnecting trenches, under ground,
at 15 meters, were tunnels made in 1943. These tunnels were
connected with 24 rooms for storage of ammunition and
compartments for the German personal. On paper, the Monte
Canisy complex was one of the most important between Le Havre
and Cherbourg. From 1943 the Allies regularly bombed it. The
guns were placed on open emplacements and therefor an easy
target. In January, 1944 work started to built heavy
fortifications for the guns. The same month a seventh 10.5 cm
cannon was added.
Marauder of the 397th Bomb Group, 596th
On April 23, 1944, at least 40 German soldiers were insured
when a 500 pound bomb, from a B-26 Marauder, hit a tunnel
which resulted in the explosion of a storage room with ammo.
During the same attack, the western H679 casemat, which was in
its building stage, was hit as well. The foundation was
cracked and therefore this bunker was never finished.
one of many on Mont Canisy
bombardment was on May 19th, 1944 when the first casemat was
hit and the 155mm gun was damaged. A second casemat was still
without her cannon, it was made ready for placement of it’s
gun, but it would never come to that.
June 6th, 1944, just four 155mm are operational, two on the
open platforms, two in the casemats.
D-Day at Mont
During D-Day the guns of Mont Canisy exchanged fire with
HMS Warspite, HMS Ramillies and Roberst. Because the ships
were in the reach of the guns of Canisy, the ship retreated
behind a smokescreen but kept on firing. The two on open
plateaus placed cannons were the first one that were brought
The HMS Warspite fires it guns towards
It is 16 guns of the Royal Navy (from a distance
of 30 km), against just 4 of Mont Canisy (with the range of 20
km). If the guns were not put out of action, then in the night
of June 6 and 7, one unit of British commando’s would attack
the complex. But the Royal Navy did a good job, and the guns
were destroyed, thus preventing a same bloodbath that took
place at Point du Hoc.
with a 155mm cannon, Then and Now.
But the German troops stayed on the hill until the 21st of
August, when the frontline reached Mont Canisy. The Germans
pulled back behind the Seine. Not only left they behind a lot
of equipment, but also a lot of landmines. The next day the
Allied troops took the hill.
What is left on Mont
Mont Canisy is easy to find. Follow the signs if you drive
from Deauville to the west to Villers-sur-Mer. The place is
also well marked from Bénerville. A lot more difficult is to
find a place to park your car. When the barrier is down, there
is little room left. The entrance is free of charge.
tankturret on top of a Tobruk near the entrance
short, but steep clime, you are greeted by a tobruk which has
a Renault tank turret on top. A few meters further down the
path are the two range finding bunkers. You can make a free
choice now, follow the small path to the west, or take the
large one. The latter one takes you directly to the H679
bunkers. The terrain is still peppered with bombcraters. A lot
of constructions are overgrown with vegetation. Besides that,
it is well maintained by 'L'Association des Amis du Mont
Canisy'. This organization gives guided tours (in French) that
lead you also into the tunnels.
One of the
three H679 casemats, Then and Now.
Continue to the west on the next page;