The forgotten beach



A logical target for the Allies, if they chose Normandy for the D-Day landings, would be the harbour of Le Havre, in the bay of the Seine. Not only the Allies had their thoughts about this spot. The Germans also realised the weakness in this place. So they placed heavy guns at the mouth of the river Seine that were able to give cross-fire. Around Le Havre were some heavy guns. On the other side of the bay, between the Seine and the Orne, they built also some impressive sites to cover the bay. The Allies knew of this heavy defended place and decided not to make any landings in this area out of sea. But the guns in place were nevertheless of some danger during the assault on D-Day. The guns had such a big range of fire, that the guns had to be eliminated before the invasion took place on June, 6th, 1944.

A tour around some objects

Our tour runs from Franceville-Plage to Honfleur. We follow the coastal route D 513 and the D 514.

On the D514, and a kilometer before reaching Franceville-Plage, you drive through a long bent to the right. At the end of this bent in the road, there is a ‘dance-hall’ established in a former German H634 MG bunker. The bunker is painted white and is called appropriate 'The Bunker' (once it was called 'Le Surfer' and after 1997 'La Noche').

The H634 rebuilt to house a party-center

The H634 had a cast iron turret with six loop-holes from which two MG 34 could give fire. The turret was removed after the war.

An example of such an iron turret can be found on a bunker near Colleville-Montgomey, on the complex 'Hillman' (see picture above).

Stützpunkt 05 Franceville West

Earlier I spoke of the so called Widerstandneste (Wn), but now I have to bring your attention to the Stützpunkt (Stp). A Widerstandneste was mainly built to pin down the invasion troops on the beach, a Stützpunkt was (hence the word) an extra support point. Stützpunkt 05 Franceville West (Stp 05) was built to fight tanks that tried to break out from the beach. Therefore, this complex was placed around 150 meters behind the beach in the dunes.

After 'The Bunker', it's a couple of hundered yards on the D 514 heading for Merville and Franceville-Plage, where you take a left before entering the double-town. When you feel up to it, take a walk through the dunes. Out of season is this area a quiet place to be. Don’t be alarmed if you stumble into a naked ‘gentleman’, who is looking for something else than bunkers.

A Panzerwerk of Stp 05

At this point are three casemats which contained 4,7 cm Skoda 36 cannons, of which two were placed in Type H506 bunkers.

The firecontrole casemat from Merville battery

Continue east, and head for Cabourg, where the roads changes from D 514 to the D 514, and continues towards Houlgate and Honfleur. (For the Batterie of Merville you go at the traffic lights to the right in Franceville.) Above is a picture of the firecontrole casemat from Merville battery. Merville was made famous for the night attack on D-Day by a small unit of the British 6th Airborne Division (see Pegasus/Merville).

Wn Vill 033/038

A nice boulevard to take a stroll is at Houlgate. Here are some lovely houses. Fortunes of war kept this beautiful place almost unharmed. A lot of former strongpoints around here are removed, but for a nice walk I can recommend Houlgate.

Houlgate, Then and Now.

Villerville I skip, because I had not the time yet to investigate this part.

Blonville-sur-Mer was part of the sector ‘Villers-sur-Mer, and was designated as Wn Vill 016. On the beach is a casemat from the type H 612. It contained a 7.62 cm cannon that swept over the beach. When you enter Blonville, you will notice, on the right side of the road, one of the German bunkers camouflaged as a house. A few meters after that you pass a small bunker on the left side (maybe a handy marker?)

The 'bunker-house' at Blonville-sur-Mer.

There are still many former ‘bunker-houses’ to be found around Normandy, but this one is one of the easy ones to find.

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