The Germans started
building V1 sites here in La Manche in 1943, by D-day they had forty
sites nearing completion. None of these sites ever launched a V1, the
Americans arrived in the area before the flying bombs were available.
Another 25 sites were planned, but no trace of the construction being
started can be found.
The largest site was at Brecourt, this was a converted French Oil
storage depot and was first conceived by the Germans as a V2 launch
site. As the V2 program vas running late is was converted to V1, for
more information follow the link below.
All of the sites were given code numbers and I have used these on the
They also built 8 "Heavy Sites with numbers 11 to 18. Numbers 14 15
& 17 are explained below in more detail. These sites were called SKI
sites by the British, because of the shape of the storage garage. These
sites were bombed on a regular basis. This caused disruption to the
construction schedule, but not a lot of damage to the actual site. The
German's abandoned these Ski Sites early in 1944 in favour of the light
sites, by then the V1 & V2 programmes has been taken over by the SS.
Forty sites (including the abandoned Ski Sites) were either completed
or were work in progress here in the Cherbourg Peninsular, by D-day, and
a further 30+ sites were planned, but no trace of construction can be
found, with the exception of some ground works.
To evade the frequent visits by the Allied air forces they the built
30 Light sites dispersed in countryside, these seemed not to have been
bombed. Sites 144 & 224 are detailed below.
It is thought that the Headquarters was in the Chateau de Martinvast
and that possibly the sites at La Malbreche and La Foret de la Hermitage
could have been Command Posts.
The V1's would have arrived by train to either Valognes or Bricquebec,
and at both rail heads evidence of the workshops can still be seen. The
French Navy site at Nardouet was also earmarked for storage, this is
south of Cherbourg with easy access to the railway. the site is still
used by the Navy and visitors are defiantly not welcome.
The sites in La Manche were aimed at British cities in the south and
west Exeter, Bristol, Plymouth and Cardiff.
Two of the light sites are curious 237 & 231 because any V1 launched
from them would fall into the sea. Could this have been a mistake by the
Germans or an act of sabotage by the Polish prisoners used built the
sites. French forced labour (STO) had been used on the coastal
fortifications as well as the Ski Sites, but for these light sites the
SS were in control and knew that if they used STO workers the Allies
were sure to find out about the construction program.
A team of around forty me could complete a V1 light site in around