|Valognes featured heavily in the German plans for the
Because of its excellent railway connections it was to be used as a
distribution base for the V1 flying bomb.
In late 1943 the Gestapo had gained control of both the V1 and V2
programmes and after the bombing by the Allies of all the larger "Ski
Sites" designed to launch the V1 against targets in the south west of
England. The Germans had built smaller launch sites around Valognes and
Bricquebec, most of which can still be traced.
The V1's would be distributed from both these towns.
The first large V1 site in the area was at Tamerville just to the
north west of the town at Chateau Beaumont.
The work did not precede very far after the SS took charge of the
project. According to German reports the ground had been cleared and a
railway line laid from the main line to the site. The site was
photographed by the RAF in January 1944. It is thought that the site
was to be a similar construction to the one further advanced next to the
main line near Cherbourg at Couville. The Couville site was bombed
several times by the Allies dropping over 500 tons of bombs, enough to
discourage the Germans from any further construction. Further work did
continue, but designed as a ruse to encourage the Allies to bomb a site
that was of no use to the Germans. The second and later site at Valognes
can still be traced to the west of the town alongside the railway line
This site is unique in the Cotentin and one of just eight in France.
The railway siding built to handle the V1's is still here and today
still is still used for hazardous cargos from Germany. By a strange
quirk of fate nuclear waste destined for Cap la Hague the pre-processing
plant to the north is unloaded onto road transport in the same sidings
built by the Germans nearly seventy years ago. The Germans wanted a site
that would not be seen by reconnaissance aircraft.
Here and at the later site at Bricquebec they built their V1
distribution site over a very large area, hoping that the many buildings
would not be seen from the air and identified for their real purpose.
They built eight them from red concrete blocks faced with concrete, not
fortified at all.
Some were around thirty five meters in length and would have been used
to prepare the V1 for launch, before they were delivered to the second
generation smaller launch site. There was also a smaller building
thought to be an administration block. The site would have been able to
service and store just over 100 V1's, it is known that trains of V1's
normally transported ninety nine at a time, and that one train per day
could have been expected.
One of the more bizarre features are the German marker posts
alongside the concrete roads on which a lamp would have been placed to
help night time operations.
Although there is know no evidence of the building an American report
written just after Valognes was liberated mentions finding quantities of
HTP or T-Stoff the German name given to Hydrogen Peroxide. This was used
in the launch of the V1 and was used to generate steam used in the ramp
At the time of the liberation around thirty of the new lighter sites had
been prepared for the launching of V's and some of the original Ski
sites could also have been used.
A great deal of this site has now disappeared under the new industrial