This is possibly the most intriguing site in Normandy, that poses more
questions than it provides answers.
Set into a cliff overlooking the bay of Cherbourg, it was built by the French
Navy, in the years preceding the Second World War to be a storage depot for the
fuel needed to maintain the fleet based in Cherbourg.
The fuel was pumped from tankers moored in the outer harbour to the huge
underground storage tanks. The fuel was kept heated by using live steam, this
enabled it to flow down to the port by gravity. On the site nearby there were
five fuel tanks on the surface. (One was bombed by the R.A.F.)
At Brecourt there were eight tanks linked by underground tunnels.
By 1941 when France, the Germans only used six of the tanks The tanks are huge,
made from concrete with steel liners they measure 240 ft long, 50 feet wide and
50 ft deep. During the occupation by the Germans, Cherbourg was only a base for
fast motor patrol vessels and the storage tanks were not used to their full
potential and were drained of fuel.
The Germans took an interest in the site in 1941 and equipped four of the
storage tanks with floors on three levels to make underground workshops and
This was initially intended for a V2 preparation and launch area.
Early in 1944 the site was converted for the assembly, preparation and launching
of V1's early in 1944.
The site was not completed by the time of the liberation, but the amount of
works completed is impressive.
The launch area was then built alongside two of the service tunnels, at the
extreme north of the site.
A poor copy of the German plans indicates a further ramp was planned to the east
of the area. Evidence of the starting of this work can be seen in the tunnel,
although no work on the ramp seems to have taken place.
A German document talks of four ramps being planned. Two lateral tunnels were
built by the Germans, but it is not clear whether these were intended for V1 or
Brecourt is the only site that would have been used for both the V systems