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Maisy battery

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Maisy battery

Maisy Battery
Part of Atlantic Wall
Grandcamp-Maisy, Normandy, France
Coordinates
Site information
Open to
the public
All casemates are open to public
Condition Several casemates, accommodation block, trench system
Site history
Built 1942 (1942)
Built by Organisation Todt
In use 1942-44
Materials Concrete and steel
Battles/wars Battle of Normandy
Garrison information
Garrison Wehrmacht

The Maisy battery is a group of World War II artillery batteries constructed by the Wehrmacht near the French village of Grandcamp-Maisy in Normandy. It formed a part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications and was the principal position of defence for that area.

One battery consisted of four 105-mm cannons (three inside casements and one in an open field position). Another site 300 yards away consisted of six 155-mm First World War-vintage French howitzers, two 50mm KwK anti-tank cannons, dozens of bunkers, accommodation blocks, shelters for personnel and ammunition and an extensive trench system featuring mortar pits and defensive machine-gun emplacements. The site also contained the regional headquarters for the sector. The battery was garrisoned by approximately 450 soldiers on rotation. It was built under strict security by forced labour from Russia, Czechoslovakia and Poland and the Wehrmacht run battery was not marked on the Allied D-Day maps which were released to the invasion troops.[1] Given that the Allied Rangers were not briefed to assault Maisy Battery and were instead sent to attack the empty gun battery at Pointe du Hoc, many historians suggest that Pointe du Hoc (on D-Day) was used by German defenders as a ruse to lead the Allies away from Maisy.

Normandy landings

The battery at Maisy (designated by the Germans as WN83 and WN84 or Widerstandsnest (Resistance Nest) 83 and 84), was situated between the American landing beaches of Omaha and Utah and its guns were capable of shelling both beachheads. The battery is located 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from Pointe du Hoc, a key objective for the US Rangers during D-Day. The battery was garrisoned by elements of the 352nd and 716th Infantry Divisions plus an anti-aircraft detachment consisting of 12 x 88-mm anti-aircraft artillery pieces sent to protect the battery shortly before D-Day on 5 June 1944. Over 2 miles of trenches and buildings have so far been uncovered at the site.

The Germans also ordered a 4 x 150mm field battery to Fouchers' Farm in May 1944, which added a third battery to the site on D-Day. This particular position was destroyed by naval shelling from USS Shubrick (DD-639) on the 8 June 1944. But the other two sites remained operational until they were assaulted by US Rangers on 9 June.

The batteries at Maisy were D-Day mission objective Number 6 as given to Colonel James Rudder in his Operation Neptune intelligence and 1st Infantry Division orders. However, he did not brief his men to carry out the mission to Maisy.

The batteries were in operation from 6 to 9 June 1944 when following heavy bombardment from the sea and air, the batteries were eventually overrun and captured by American forces from the US 2nd and 5th Rangers, as well as elements of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division. 18 US soldiers were killed or wounded during the attack.

Rediscovery

British military historian Gary Sterne rediscovered Maisy Battery after finding a map amongst some memorabilia at militaria fair. The battery was marked on the map as an "area of high resistance", but the location was not one that at that time was recorded amongst other D-Day fortifications. Visiting the location, Sterne was able to locate a bunker entrance amongst undergrowth. Sterne then investigated further to find additional buildings, including hospitals and radar buildings and a vast network of trenches.[2]

In April 2007 the site was opened for the first time to visitors.

External links

  • Maisy Battery Official Site
  • Guide to visiting Maisy Battery

References

  1. ^
  2. ^

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