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St Marcouf Description

Discussion in 'Crisbecq - St Marcouf battery' started by Jim, May 30, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The German Naval battery at St Marcouf (also known as Crisbecq) was placed to cover the potential landing beaches along the eastern coast of the Cotentin peninsula. The battery originally held six 155mm guns. However, by D-Day all but one of these had been moved to Fontenay-sur-Mer. The battery was then re-equipped with more powerful 210mm cannon. Three of these Czech-built Skoda K52 guns were in place by 6 June, although only two were operational in casemates. Three casemates were under construction for the remainder of the battery's guns, but following the test firing of the first 210mm gun on 14 April 1944 the Allies bombed the site regularly. Consequently, the building of the remaining casemates was significantly delayed. The guns had a range of 33km (20 miles) and the Type 683 casemates allowed them to cover an arc of 120°. The guns speed of firing was slow as they had to be lowered to 8° of elevation to be reloaded and then totally re-aimed afterwards. The large gun loopholes were to be covered by armour plate. However this had not been delivered by D- Day. The battery was protected by six French 75mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns and three 20mm AA guns, one of which was sited on the roof of a control bunker. Seventeen machine guns were sited in tobruk pits (concrete lined pits first used in the North African fortress town of Tobruk) and the trench system. The area was surrounded by a double barbed wire fence and a minefield. Concrete bunkers were provided for personnel and ammunition. In addition to that for the St Marcouf guns, there was a control bunker for the Azeville battery which, although only some 2km (1.2 miles) to the south west, did not have such a good view of the sea.
    The battery was manned by 3 officers, 7 NCOs and 287 men commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Walter Ohmsen, who later became a Lieutenant Commander in the Federal German Navy. Although manned by Naval personnel, the battery came under the control of the 1261st Army Coastal Artillery Regt.

    D-Day Action

    On the night of 5th June, 598 tonnes of bombs were dropped on the battery. All the AA guns were destroyed and many off-duty men were killed in their billets in the nearby houses. While Ohmsen was struggling to sort out the chaos following the bombing, isolated groups of paratroops from the American 502nd Parachute Infantry Regt, part of US 101st Airborne Division, attempted to storm the battery. They failed and some 20 were captured. The paratroops had intended to attack the 1/1261st battery at St Martin des Varreville approximately 61/2km (4 miles) west. In common with most of the American airborne troops that night, they had drifted far from their target.
    As dawn broke on 6 June the American fleet landing on UTAH beach became visible. The battery opened fire at naval targets, sinking a destroyer and damaging several other ships. However, it was not long before the 14in and 12in guns of the US battleships Nevada, Arkansas and Texas were ranged against the battery. One gun was knocked out at approximately 0800hrs by a hit to the immediate front of the casemate. The remaining gun was destroyed at around 0900hrs by a direct hit through the gun loophole. The first gun was repaired on the 8th, but was again put out of action by naval gunfire.


    On 7 and 8 June elements of the US 4th Division which had landed on UTAH beach attempted several half-hearted and uncoordinated infantry attacks. However, the battery had been reinforced by units from the German 9l9th Regt from the 709th Division, and Ohmsen used fire from the Azeville battery onto the St Marcouf site to defeat all these attacks.
    The German command decided to hold a defensive line further north towards the Cotentin peninsula and Ohmsen was ordered to evacuate the battery on the night of 11th June. Seventy eight men escaped leaving 21 wounded under the care of a medical orderly who had volunteered to remain.
    On the morning of 12 June the 39th Regt from the newly arrived 9th US Infantry Division was tasked to take the battery, but patrols discovered that the site was empty. Ohms en was awarded the Iron Cross on 13 June for his defence of the St Marcouf battery.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Today You can See

    The Control Bunker That Controlled Azeville Battery

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    Thanks to the efforts of the battery's proprietor the site was completely restructured and cleaned in late 2004. He has also inaugurated a new museum which is dedicated to the history of the battery.

    Here is two pictures taken 60 years apart, in the first one you can see a German Soldier Exiting the Personel Shelter and the second one is of the same view today.


    [​IMG]

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  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    A view looking down towards the Battery from the Control Bunker Side.

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    A view from the air after the Battery had been captured, you can clearly see the American Jeep top left

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    This is the rear of the Number 1 Casemate after the Americans tried and failed to blow it up

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    This is the rear of the Control Bunker

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  4. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    So they've filled the Personnel bunker in?? Or was it demolished by Allied bombing??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2007
  5. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    Hey up Jim. Found these:-
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    Different angles:thumb:​
     
  6. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Yes good pictures Kelly, its the number 1 casemate as you state from 3 different angles.. :thumb:
     
  7. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    An aerial photograph of the St Marcouf battery taken on 2nd June. The position of the roads allow the location of the control bunker and the two completed casemates to be seen amongst the bomb damage. The third casemate under construction can be made out, as can the anti-aircraft gun site and the barbed wire fence to the front of the battery. The top of the photograph is south west.

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