D-Day: Merville Battery

This section describes the assault on Merville Battery and what there is to see today.


Panoramic view of Merville Battery taken from the top of one of the bunkers

Looking across Merville Battery

British 5.5 inch at the Merville Battery Museum

German gunners in the audio-visual exhibit at Merville Battery

A C47 Dakota on display at Merville Battery.

A reenactor with parachute at Merville Battery

The battery at Merville was an indirect fire battery, that needed a forward observation post at Franceville to control its fire.

It was believed that the battery consisted of 155mm guns which could seriously affect the planned landings; so they had to be silenced as part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

During the early hours of June 6th 1944, Allied airborne troops landed on the eastern flank of the Normandy landing area. Glider troops seized the bridge over the River Orne while paratroopers landed in the fields around Ranville, north of Caen.

The defences were formidable. An anti-tank ditch wound its way around the west and north-western sides and two belts of barbed wire surrounded the whole battery. Between these belts was a minefield and it was estimated that the garrison was around 160 men.

Everything that could go wrong with the attack did go wrong, leaving the attacking troops with little heavy weapons and no working radio. This latter problem was particularly worrying as the Royal Navy were due to shell the battery if they did not recieve the 'success' code-words.

Despite all this the paratroopers succeeded in disabling the batteries guns before having to pull out due to the impending naval barrage.

Although the Germans were able to get the battery firing again, it was out of action during the critical period of the D-Day landings. The battery continued to operate until August 1944.

For the full story of the attack on Merville Battery see the article by Neil Barber, author of 'The Day the devils Dropped in'

break

Merville Battery Museum

Today the battery is a well preserved museum, with a Dakota gate-guard (itself with a story to tell) and a very interesting audio-visual display in one of the bunkers.

The Merville Battery Museum is a short drive from Pegasus Bridge and only about 10 minutes from Ouistreham.

Look out for 'The Bunker Club' along the route. This old WW2 bunker is now a night-club, although I haven`t been in there myself (yet!)

As you drive to Merville from Pegasus bridge, you`ll notice the church tower at Ranville. This was used as a reference point for the glider pilots who landed at the bridge.

The drop zone (DZ) is on the hill just east of Ranville, towards Merville Battery.

Merville Battery Museum takes the Normandy Card. It has a small car park and good disabled access.