by Erwin Bovyn IPMS Ghent, Belgium
Mail: Mail: Erwin
(Located in Calvados, Normandy, France)
The coastal battery at Longues-sur-Mer belonged and was armed by German Marine personnel. It lay under direct command of vice-admiral Walther Hennecke, who stationed himself in Cherbourg.
Construction started in September 1943 and the battery was almost finished in June 1944 by the time of the invasion. It consists of 4 main gun bunkers, a forward command post, several ammunition bunkers, troop shelter, AA guns, mortar, MG and searchlight positions.
Each of the 4 main gun bunkers called “Kazemat” 1 to 4 measures 15 m long by 10 m wide and is 6 m high. The gun openings measure 2,5 m x 3,85 m and each gun has a traverse of 120°. The building of one kazemat consumed 600 m3 of concrete and 4.000 Kg of steel.
They were (and still are) armed by 4 x 152 mm naval guns, type 1928 with an 8 m long barrel. Each round weighted 45 kg and they could fire at a rate of 6 rounds / minute over a 20 Km distance. Each gun was protected at the front by a 10 mm thick steel gun mantle.
The forward control post or “Leitstand” is 2 stories high and was equipped with a 5 m long range finder. Telephone cables were buried 2 m deep in the ground; something that proved not to be deep enough. All of the guns could reach the Omaha and Gold landing beaches and this is why they had to be silenced as soon as possible.
An aerial bombardment with almost no effect was done on June 5th.
On June 6, a naval bombardment started at 0537 hrs and the battery stopped returning fire at 0620 hrs. They re-opened fire on the Gold beach armada but was hit again and silenced at 0845 hrs with 3 guns temporarily out of order. They re-opened fire for the 3rd time in the afternoon and was definitely silenced at 1900 hrs by gunfire from HMS Ajax and the French cruiser Georges Leygues. On June 7, 184 German soldiers surrendered to the 2nd Devons. Their honour was saved and it was a not so bad way to end the war.
About 400 m further to the east, British troops started the construction of an ALG, Advanced Landing Ground, code-named B11. It would serve from June 26 to the 4th of September 1944.
During construction of this field , an accident happened to Kazemat 4 serving at that time as an ammunition storage for AA gun ammunition. The explosion killed 4 British soldiers and caused the damage that still can be seen today.
The Longues battery is the only battery on the Norman coast that kept its guns. It is free open to public and all the gun positions can be visited.
The main command post became immortal with the making of “The Longest Day” when this bunker was used to represent the command post of Major Pluskat.
Major Pluskat however had nothing to do with this position as he belonged to the artillery of the 352nd Infantry Division. He had his observation bunker on WN 59 at St.-Honorine-des-Pertes. The Longues battery fell under Marine command and had nothing to do with the Wehrmacht.
|Engravings in the concrete|
|Damage to Kazemat 4|
Tobrouk :- Mortar
|Tobruk :- Searchlight||Leitstand Entrance||Leitstand Front|
(text and pictures by Erwin Bovyn, IPMS Ghent, Belgium)