The Atlantik Wall In Normandy



St Martin de Varreville Wn108  Map 1311E

This German Gun site remains a bit of a mystery, at some point in 1941 four captured French Schnieder 105 mm guns were stationed in this area.
These guns had a range of 13 kms and had been built during the first world war. In 1935 all of the 500 or so cannons were refurbished, but in many cases this only meant fitting rubber wheels and changing the towing bar from horse drawn to motorised traction.
The guns were not in prepared fortifications but placed in the open.
In 1943 four Russian 122 mm captured guns built in 1931 were transferred here.
They were operated by the 1/HKAA 1261 under the command of Lieutenant Erben and had a range of 20 kms.
The guns were later placed in large open emplacements and there were plans to house the guns in type H669 Casemates.
The foundations were started, but I have never found any trace of these works.
In all eleven concrete structures were built here and many traces can be still found.
On the night of 28th - 29th of May 1944 the R.A.F. mounted a raid by 64 Lancaster's.
It is after this point that the history of this gun battery gets a little clouded.
There was damage to some of the guns and the undamaged guns were withdrawn some distance back to a new position.
The diary of H.M.S. Hawkins claims to have fired on this position early on D-day in response to the batterie firing onto Utah beach (2 kms).
The batterie was taken on the morning of D-day by members of the 101st and if you look at the number of German's killed or taken prisoner by the Americans.
It would seem that they were all accounted for in their billets just to the west at Les Mezieres.
So what became of these guns?
Three were moved to Cibrantot to the south of Azeville, where possibly another gun was destroyed by Allied action.
Another set of Russian guns in the are were at Carteret on the west coast.
We know that two of these guns were also moved to Lestre around June 9th to help bolster the "Iron Triangle" which was still holding out against the Americans.
After the liberation of the area, many German Generals when debriefed did not know where the artillery they commanded was actually positioned, due to the disrupted communications.
The troops were billeted in the local village, and this was known to the Allies a WXYZ and was taken on D-day, almost single handed by Sgt Summers of the 101st.

Wn108 Sk x 3 - Vf2b x 5 - Vf7b - Vf58c x 2 - 122mm K390/2 x 2 Manned by 1/HKAR1261


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