"The Atlantic Wall"
"From Norway to the spanish border..."
It was on March 23rd 1942 that Adolf Hitler signed the "War Directive N°40" which prescribed the construction of strong coastal defences from Norway to the Spanish border.
From 1942 the Axis forces began to suffer serious setbacks (Allied victories at Midway, El Alamein, Stalingrad (...), U-Boote failure in the Atlantic from 1943, allied landings in North Africa, then in Sicily and Italy...) and it became imperative to prevent a new Anglo-American landing.This time on the French coast or "a little further north".
In charge of the construction of the "Atlantic Wall", the Organisation Todt will employ hundreds of thousands of workers (voluntary or forced) in the construction of thousands of fortifications, mostly chosen from a catalogue of standardized constructions, ranging from powerful artillery bunkers to constructions dedicated to anti-aircraft defence, as well as command posts and simple kitchen shelters.
In November 1943, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel was appointed Inspector of Western Fortifications, then, in January 1944, Chief of Group B of Armies, in charge of the defences of the Channel coast.
Very dissatisfied with the work done so far, and strongly doubting the Wall’s ability to repel an allied landing, Rommel then worked with great energy to accelerate the construction of defensive structures and to multiply the number of obstacles and deadly traps on the beaches and back of the coast.
History will remember that if its power caused terrible losses to the allied armies on June 6, 1944 (and well after in some places), the "Atlantic Wall" did not prevent the allied landings and the establishment of a solid bridgehead in Normandy.
Hitler’s strategic choices - often unfortunate - certainly had something to do with this failure. Rommel was probably right when he insisted on the absolute necessity of having all the necessary means at the first moment of an allied amphibious operation - including armoured units - to prevent Anglo-American forces from seizing the beaches and establishing themselves on the shore...
"The Atlantic Wall" Tour
Although some elements of the Atlantic Wall were destroyed during the fighting or after the end of hostilities, most of the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall are still visible today.
With very few exceptions, weapons were removed and many metal elements - notably heavy armoured doors - were recovered after the war.
However, especially in Normandy, there are still sites of great interest and diversity, and some of which have been carefully restored by enthusiasts.
Memory Tracks invites you to discover the remains of the "Atlantic Wall" by discovering three sites whose history we will tell you during the tour:
- Built on 5 levels and completely restored, a Kriegsmarine Fire Direction Bunker in Ouistreham. A site of rare quality and presenting a remarkable collection of equipment and uniforms.
- At 4 km from the beaches of Juno and Sword, a Wehrmacht Command Post (736th Infantry Regiment - 716th ID). This 24-hectare site (originally), includes various types of buildings, including two R608 bunkers. It is now managed by a volunteer association "Friends of the Suffolk Regiment", which has been working since 1989 to restore the site’s various structures.
- The "Distelfink" Radar Station of the Luftwaffe. Originally located on 35 hectares and served by a garrison of 152 men, the radar station is today another exceptional site.
It allows - in particular - to discover one of the very rare Würzburg radars surviving in Europe, as well as a Fighter Command shelter, built on two floors ("Anton" type).
On this tour route, some connections will allow us to take charming little country roads and to cross typical Norman villages of the region...
Prior reservation required.
"The Atlantic Wall" tour can be carried out as you wish, in the morning or in the afternoon.
Exclusively from Caen or Ouistreham as a starting point.
Morning tour: Departure at 08:30. Return planned around 13:00.
Afternoon tour: Departure at 14:00, return planned around 18:30.
Flat rate: 390 EUR, 4 passengers max (entries to Museums included). Rules and regulations restrict us to fix a flat rate per tour and not according to the number of passengers.
Warning: unfortunately we are unable to accept children under 10 years old due to the technical impossibility to provide the necessary equipment (baby seats, booster seats…).
Please, read the general information page by clicking HERE