The Atlantik Wall In Normandy




Valognes featured heavily in the German plans for the "Vengeance Weapons"
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 to Cherbourg.

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 catapult.
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 estate.


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