Hamburg battery – Stp 234
German batteries of the Atlantic Wall in Normandy
Unit: 3rd Battalion of the 260th Marine Artillery Regiment (3/MAA260)
Codename: Stp 234 – Hamburg battery
Artillery guns: 4x 240 mm SDKL/40
Outcome: Under American control on 28 June 1944
The Fermanville battery, nicknamed “Hamburg” by the Germans, belongs to the belt of defense protecting the city of Cherbourg (“Festung Cherbourg“) and its precious deep water port.
Construction and composition of the Hamburg battery
From the year 1943, the Germans built four Regelbaut SK casemates facing the sea on the heights, fifteen kilometers east of Cherbourg, each sheltering a 240 mm cannon with a range of 25 kilometers . These are old naval pieces used from 1890 on Austro-Hungarian cruisers. About forty other constructions, including an underground command post at the back of the site, are also carried out by the Todt organization.
To protect the site which is one of the most important of the Atlantic Wall in France, six 75 mm M36 guns, six 20 mm anti-aircraft guns and a 25 mm Pak 112 gun are installed.
The Hamburg battery during the battle of Normandy
The Allies carried out several air raids on this battery and in particular on the night of June 5 to 6, 1944, but which did not prevent it from remaining operational. When the Americans landed at Utah Beach and headed north, Oberleutnant Rudi Max Gelbhaar, commander of the battery, realized that its 240 mm guns were not very useful in the configuration of the moment.
The Hamburg battery comes into action when the Allies seek to seize the city of Cherbourg. Indeed, on June 25, 1944, a major naval force approached the coast to support the ground forces which, at the gates of the port city, designate the main objectives and notably the famous batteries of the Festung Cherbourg.
Shortly after 10 am, the Germans opened fire and an impressive duel of artillery entered their cannons and those of the Allies. Targeted by the second flotilla bombing group (including USS Arkansas and USS Texas), the Hamburg battery is masked by smoke from explosions.
However, several destroyers and cruisers are affected but do not sink: at 13h35, the USS Texas manages to put out of use one of the guns of 240 mm. The three remaining pieces then target the USS Arkansas: ships come out of the range of the batteries, camouflaged by a thick smoke curtain.
The American infantrymen continued their progression, forcing the Germans to direct their shots inland. For this purpose, the shield protecting the 240 mm gun from the north-east casemate is deliberately destroyed in order to widen the range of the fire. However, the Americans managed to seize the battery that the occupants went on the evening of June 28, 1944.