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© Flickr / Ranulf 1214

Longues-sur-Mer is a town in the Calvados region known for its artillery batterie located along the English Channel coastline, just a few kilometers from Bayeux. Because the town remained in an excellent state of conservation, it served as the setting for the 1961 film, The Longest Day, with John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Richard Burton. Several guided tours in Normandy include this place.

A Military Defense Plan

An artillery batterie is a military installation composed of long-distance weapons. Commander Rommel’s Atlantic Wall defense system entailed placing bunkers and anti-disembarkment obstacles all along France’s beaches. The installation of artillery batteries at strategic points was also part of these defensive measures. The batterie at Longues-sur-Mer was capable of defending Gold Beach and Omaha Beach. In other words, two priority targets for Allied troops and the success of Operation Overlord. One of the defense installations that had to be destroyed at all costs was the batterie at Hoc Point.

The Artillery Batterie at Longues-sur-Mer

The Kriegsmarine used artillery batteries to defend the French coastline from amphibious attacks. In June 1944, the Allied forces had already landed in North Africa. The looming threat of a landing in West Europe was imminent. In order to counter this threat, Commander Rommel took to reinforcing the Atlantic Wall. However, the work was unfinished by the time D-day came around. The garrison was 180-soldiers strong. Several batteries had been bombed since the beginning of 1944; the one at Longues-sur-mer would be no exception.

D-day in Normandy

At 5:30 am on June 6, 1944, the British Naval ship HMS Ajax attacked the batterie at Longues-sur-mer that then counterattacked by firing on the HMS Bulolo on which commanding officers for the Gold Beach landing were present. During a ceasefire, German soldiers were able to repair enough of the batterie to then attack Omaha Beach where a landing was playing out.

On June 7, the batterie was bombed all day long by the Royal Air Force. Before noon, the batterie was taken over by Company C of the 2nd Regiment of Devonshire. German soldiers surrendered without a fight.

The batterie at Longues-sur-mer is one of the most visited sites when touring the Normandy and its landing beaches. It is entirely accessible and open to the public. Extremely well-preserved, the batterie is listed as a historical monument. Visitors can discover bunkers and 150 mm original cannons.