German batteries of the Atlantic Wall in Normandy
Unit: Heeresküstenartillerie-Regiment 1261
Artillery guns: 4x 105 mm
The Azeville battery is located ten kilometers from the beach of Utah in the Cotentin. It is one of the first defensive installations of the Atlantic Wall in France.
Construction and composition of the Azeville battery
Its construction begins in 1941 and it represents one of the very first batteries to be established on the French territory. Voluntarily located in the immediate vicinity of the village of Azeville, its buildings are painted with the same coloring as the stones of the houses of the village in order to mislead the Allied air patrols charged with intelligence.
The Azeville battery consists of four casemates: two Regelbau H650 type and two others Regelbau H671 type, each protecting a 105 mm Schneider gun of French origin and dating from the First World War.
In addition to these casemates, the Germans built several shelters for the troops, ammunition bunkers, a power station and several locations for machine gun positions, not to mention the installation of barbed wire and minefields protecting access To the site against a possible ground attack. A 37 mm anti-aircraft gun is in battery on one of the casemates of the site. Its observation post, which allows to direct the shots, is located within the Crisbecq battery, at a distance of two kilometers.
Casemates, bunkers, defense posts and shelters are linked together by 150 meters of concrete underground tunnels and nearly 150 meters of trenches which ensure the protection of personnel in the event of an alert.
The garrison of Azeville’s battery, commanded by Captain Treiber, seconded by Lieutenant Kattnig, is strong with 170 personnel.
The Azeville battery during the Normandy landing
Like the other German batteries along the Normandy coasts, that of Azeville was extensively bombed by Allied aviation on the night of June 5-6, 1944. A few hours later, it was attacked Led by the American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division, dropped by mistake in the battery sector. The defenses hold tight and the artillerymen are placed on alert when the dawn of D-Day begins.
The 105 mm guns engage Allied ships in front of Utah Beach as well as the American landing on this beach throughout the morning, hampering the advance inland. In the days following D-Day, the coordinated action of Azeville’s battery with that of Crisbecq greatly delayed the Americans of the 4th Infantry Division. Meanwhile, the Allied navy bombarded the site relentlessly and managed to make a blow to the goal, destroying one of the rooms and the casemate.
On June 9, 1944, the Americans seized the battery after an impressive artillery preparation and thanks to the courage of its soldiers who took immense risks to silence the German defensive positions, in particular Private Ralph G. Riley who, using his flamethrower, neutralizes several German support sites.