TOUR THE BATTLEFIELDS OF NORMANDY
SURROUNDINGS NORTH OF BAYEUX

FROM ARROMANCHES TO THE BATTERY OF LONGUES:

Follow the coastle road, D 514, to the west from Arromanches. After 5 kilometers you come across a ‘funny’ bend in the road with traffic lights. Turn right here and follow the signs 'Batterie de Longues'.

THE BATTERY OF LONGUES-SUR-MER

The construction of the battery of Longues-sur-Mer was started in September 1943. It consisted of four M 272 casemats. In March, 1944 only two of these were finished. But in May the whole battery was completed, in time for the coming invasion. Each casemat was constructed from 600 m³ concrete and four tons of steel. The walls and ceilings were two meters thick and could withstand Allied bombardments. To counter the subside of the casemat with a near hit, a heavy concrete base underneath the casemat was constructed. On top of the casemats were hooks to support the netting of the camouflage. Each casemat had a fast firing 155 mm Tbts.K.C/36 ships cannon. The guns could reach a distance of 20 kilometers. This coastal battery was under command of the Kriegsmarine, but just before D-Day handed over tot the Wehrmacht. Before the invasion became a fact, the site was bombed on a regular basis. The heaviest bombardments came between May 28 and June 3, 1944. Over 1500 bombs rained down on the battery. Despite that some bombs of 2000 kg were dropped that created holes of 7 meters deep, there was only just minor damage. Even the 1500 tons of bombs dropped in the night of June 5 and 6, left the battery mostly unscratched.

Early in the mornig of D-Day, the battery opened fire on the Allied fleet. The first shot rang out at 05.37 hours. It was twenty minutes before sunrise. Targets were the destroyer US Emmonds and the battleship Arkansas in front of Omaha Beach. The Arkansas returned fire with 305mm shells. The battery then turned their attention to the east, to the HMS Bulolo. The Bulolo, with the HQ of the British XXX Corps on board, left the scene and moored beyond the reach of the heavy guns. The HMS Ajax opened up on the battery from a distance of 11 kilometers. Within 20 minutes 114 150mm shells silenced the battery temporarily. The guns of the battery were then aimed at the troops that were wading ashore at Gold Beach and Omaha Beach. Around 08.45 hours the battery was finally put out of action with the assistance of the cruiser Argonaut. There is some contradiction about the claim who was responsible for silencing the battery. The French also claimed this 'job'. The cruisers George Leygues and the Montcalm claim to have fired first with their 152mm guns at the battery. The Ajax managed only, according to the French, around midday to stop the battery from firing (after the first silencing, the fire had resumed against Gold Beach). When the British troops took the battery, shell fragments were found that were of French origin. But whoever makes the claim, Batterie de Longues was a pain, and had to be destroyed, or at least put out of action.

Leitstand M 262, the directionfinder casemat

Threehundered meters in front of the casemats is the directionfinder casemat (Leitstand Type M 262) situated, that controlled the fire for the battery. To conceal the directionfinder, the casemat was placed in a large dug out hole in the cliff. The lower front room was the observation post that looked for enemy targets. When located, the targets were passed on to the telemetric post on the top floor. Protected under a roof of 70 cm concrete (supported by four steel legs) the men of the telemetric gave the coordinates to the battery's in the back. This Leitstand was also used during the filming of 'The Longest Day' when in a dramatic scene Major Werner Pluskat is confronted with the enormous Allied fleet (the real location can be found near Ste Honorine des Pertes, but was during the filming unreachable, and still is). A walk towards the directionfinder of Batterie de Longues is certainly a must when you visit the battery.

The rear of the directionfinder casemat
(on the left, a bridge was contructed during 2012,
so visitors can easy access the telemetric post)

The engineers of the RAF constructed, after the surrender, on this spot ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) B-11. It served as an ALG from June 26 until September 5, 1944. After the war the military, and local civilians, collected and stored unexploded ammunition in the eastern casemat. Rumor has it, that Canadian soldiers on guard duty were, because of boredom, experimenting with a altitude detonator from a anti-air grenade. When this blew, the whole lot of collected explosives detonated and the casemat was severely damaged. Two soldiers lost their lives.

De eastern (first) casemat with the heavy damage

Batterie de Longue is the only battery left in Normandy that still contains their original heavy guns. (The H 667 casemat at Wn 65 on Omaha Beach has the original 5cm KwK, and in a casemat of Wn 72, also at Omaha, a 8,8cm Pak 43 can be found.)

PORT-EN-BESSIN:

Return to the D 514 and head for Port-en-Bessin-Huppain.

At Port-en-Bessin follow the signes 'Le Port'. This harbour was a place of heavy fighting. Only on 7 June (D+1) the last Germans were driven out of there strongholds atop the dunes near the tower. After a barrage of fire from the navy vessel the HMS Emerald and a attack from, rocket armed, Typhoon fighters, commando's of the 47th RM cleared the hilly dunes. The harbour was from great importance.

The dunes from Port-en-Bessin

The picture above shows the place of the heavy fighting, the dunes behind the tower. For the motion picture 'The Longest Day' this spot was used for the location of the Ouistreham Casino battle scéne.

The Allied war machine needed lots of fuel, so a system was built consisting of hoses all the way from England to (and from tankers near the coast) to bring in the necessary fuel. This is one of the places where the fuel pipeline PLUTO was brought ashore. Of the 5 Million ton's of oil transported to the mainland of Europe, 370.000 ton was transported by PLUTO. The mainline, 'Bambi', was planned for Isle of Wight-Cherbourg (with 4 lines over 70 nautical miles), the minor one for Port-en-Bessin and at Ste.Honorine-des-Pertes. Cherbourg came to late for the war and the line was taken over by the Dungeness-Boulogne line ('Dumbo') with 17 lines. On 27 October 1944 the pumps to Boulogne were started. Port-en-Bessin was by then already over three months working. The ‘minor system’ line was a short line from tankers to the harbour. It was calculated beforehand that they could bring 700 tons ashore. But when the harbour was taken intact, more ships could bring their cargo in. On a daily basis a mere 2000 tons could be brought ashore.

There is some contradiction on the acronym for PLUTO. Many publications use the acronym; ‘Pipeline Under The Ocean’, but according to the excellent article by Fred Nash in the magazine ‘After the Battle’ #116 and other publications, it stands for Pipeline Underwater Transport of Oil.

From Brendan Brown I received a mail that ‘PLUTO’ stands for Pipe Line Under the Ocean after all. He wrote to the Imperial War Museum to ask them about the contradiction. He received the following report (see below):

Collections Enquiry Service
Imperial War Museum

Our response is: Dear Mr Brown

According to the files kept at The National Archives it is
WO 32/11601 SUPPLIES: Petrol (Code 42(C)): Operation "Pluto" (Pipe line under the ocean) 1944-1946
WO 32/11601 INVENTIONS and PATENTS: General (Code 44(A)): Operation "Pluto" (pipeline under the ocean) 1944-1946

Christopher Hunt

Port-en-Bessin, Then and Now, General Montgomery during inspection

Leave the harbour of Port-en-Bessin and follow the D 6 on the roundabout towards Bayeux. After 2 kilometers you notice some large flags hanging form a large crane on the left side of the road. Here is a unique museum, Musée de Epaves sous-marines de Débarquement. It contains only artefacts recovered from the sea that were lost during the invasion.

Musée de Epaves sous-marines de Débarquement

Impressing here are the so called DD tanks (= Duplex Drive). These tanks drove out of the landing crafts some miles out of shore and waded towards the beach. Not only DD tanks were recoverd, also other vehicles were retrieved from the sea, such as an M7 'Priest' selfpropelled field gun. When this vehicle was recovered it contained under 2000 kilos of mud the preserved documents from John E. Glass.

The recoverd M7 in witch the documents were found from J.E.Glass

In the small indoor museum are more artefacts on show, such as a Napier Sabre engine from a Typhoon fighterbomber. When in May the doors open for a new season, they sell from the seabed recoverd items.

BAYEUX

Musée Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie

The Musée Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux had a difficult period when the collector of the exhibits decided to take most of it back. In the spring of 2006 the museum was re-opened. It is less 'crowded' with items which, I think, is a lot better. The clear displays and the objects keep the museum fresh. Fortunately not every vehicle disappeared from the collection. The tanks outside the museum still stand guard, and inside are still vehicles to be found, like the Sexton, a Caterpillar bulldozer, a Brencarrier and a Half Track. The wreck of the Spitfire has left the museum and can be now be found at Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer. Take at least two hours to visit the Musée Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie. The museum is situated on the southwest of the old ring road around Bayeux.

Opposite the museum, somewhat to the north, the Bayeux War Cemetery is located. In the cemetery are 4648 British (Commonwealth) soldiers buried, and 466 Germans. Across the road stands the Bayeux Memorial, with the names carved of 1805 missing men who have an unknown grave.

The Bayeux Memorial

To continue the journey to the American sector, 'OMAHA Beach' & 'UTAH Beach';
OMAHA BEACH
(Ste. Honorine-des-Pertes, Colleville-sur-Mer and the American Cemetery)
click on the Hetzer 38 below.