The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles
Liberation: June 7th, 1944
C Company, 2nd Devonshire Regiment, 231st Infantry Brigade, 50th Infantry Division
602nd RAF squadron, 125th Wing, 83rd Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force
132th RAAF squadron, 125th Wing, 83rd Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force
453rd RAAF squadron, 125th Wing, 83rd Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force
441st RCAF squadron, 144th Wing, 144th Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force
Under the German occupation, the construction of a coastal battery began in September 1943. The Germans chose for this purpose the plateau overlooking the cliffs near the village of Longues-sur-Mer. As a result, four Regelbau M272 type casemates are coming out of the ground, accompanied by a shooting direction (Regelbau M262A), equipped with an electrical communication and direction system, very modern for the time. For this purpose, they use Reich craftsmen and local labor. The Longues-sur-Mer battery adopts the code name Wn 48 and consists of four 150 mm TK C/36 marine guns manufactured by Skoda, with a range of about 20 kilometers.
The German garrison of the Longues battery is strong of 184 soldiers under the command of the navy, the Kriegsmarine. The site is under the responsibility of the artillerymen of the 4th battery of Heeres-Küsten-Artillerie-Abteilung 1260, under the orders of Oberleutnant M.A. Kurt Weil. Among the local craftsmen employed for the construction of the site slip French resistance: they inform the Allies on the disposition and the capacities of the battery, while sabotant the concrete used for the construction of one of the casemates M272, making it more fragile to the blows of the artillery.
During the two weeks preceding D-Day, from March 28 to June 3, the battery receives not less than 1,500 bombs dropped by Allied aircraft. The destruction remains limited, apart from one of the casemates M272 whose concrete was sabotaged by the resistant. Electrical wiring connecting the command post to the shells was also cut off by the explosions, forcing the Germans to use a backup communication system, slower and less efficient. On the night of June 5-6, 1944, 604 tons of bombs were dropped on the site by 99 four-engine aircraft. Hit repeatedly by direct impacts, the walls of casemates, two meters thick and designed in reinforced concrete, hold up well.
The British light battleship HMS Ajax, sailing in the English Channel in Naval Force G, receives the mission to open fire (after the squadrons have passed the German battery) at Longues-sur-Mer at 5.30 am using its 152 mm and 102 mm guns.
German gunners react by opening fire shortly before six o’clock in the direction of Omaha Beach, without causing serious damage. At six past ten, Longues’ battery engages the G (Gold Beach) Force flagship, HMS Bulolo, which carries the staff of the 30th British Corps. The latter is then obliged to leave his anchorage and retreat out of range of the shots. The Ajax and Argonaut battleships are ordered to come closer to the coast to apply precise fire and open fire 179 times: the British response is such that the German battery plunges into total silence from eight forty-five hours, making the sailors believe that they managed to destroy it.
Later in the morning, after quick repair work by the German gunners, the 150mm guns open fire again towards Omaha. In response, the French cruisers Georges Leygues and Montcalm as well as the US cruiser USS Arkansas retaliate and then manage to destroy a piece by direct fire and damage two other cannons. The battery remains silent until the fourth piece, survivor of the artillery duels, opens fire again during the afternoon of June 6, alongside the Soviet canon of 122 mm, towards the beaches of Gold and Omaha, without being able to worry excessively the Allies. In total, Longues’ battery fired 115 rounds at Allied forces during D-Day.
On 7 June, the Allies launch a new air raid around 09:00 (using seven squadrons of B-17 Flying Fortress), which precedes the assault by British troops of C Company of the 2nd Devonshire Regiment from Gold Beach. The infantrymen seized the battery before noon and captured the 120 German gunners and infantry survivors of bombing, surrendering without particular resistance.
From June 18 to 21, 1944, the British sappers built an advanced airstrike, just three hundred meters east of the Longues Battery. Named ALG B-11, it hosts squadrons of 125th and 144th Wings fighters (2nd Tactical Air Force), and sees the passage of the French aviator Pierre Clostermann aboard his Spitfire. The M272 casemates are used by the Royal Air Force to store ammunition, but an accidental explosion destroys casemate number 4 (the most easterly): four Allied soldiers are killed instantly.
Map of Longues-sur-Mer :