Grand Bunker


Now a museum, the 52 foot tall, five story German bunker at Ouistreham was used for rangefinding and coordination of nearby artillery batteries near the mouth of the Orne.  Two officers and fifty men occupied the facility.


The artist's conception and map help put the Grand Bunker in the context of the coastal defense, which was to include six 155mm guns along with trenches and other defenses.  The bunker was hidden behind buildings and came as a surprise to the invading British.  The first ashore were Anglo-French commandos, who captured a bunker at a demolished the casino in bitter fighting.  Bypassing the Grand Bunker, they contined inland.  The guns were found to be removed and replaced by wood.



This is the optical rangefinder.  Looking through the openings and turning a knob to match the views from both sides will show you the range.  The rangefinder used here was four meters wide.  The wider the rangefinder, the more accurate the reading.


Range data was transmitted to the floor below, where a fire soultion was made and sent to the guns.

The garrison lived and slept in the bunker.

This is ventilation equipment.  Except for the rangefinding area, the rest of the bunker was ventilated and pressurized to keep poison gas out.

The rangefinding equipment was destroyed during the initial bombardment, but that morning after the landings, infantry assaults against the bunker were repulsed by small arms fire and grenades thrown from the roof.  The bunker continued to assist directing German fire by radio, forcing the British to make follow-on landings further west.  


At around 10pm on June 9th, however, Lt. Bob Orrell of the Royal Engineers and three of his men approached the bunker's door.  The Germans could have easily opened a loophole and killed the men, but they didn't.  The Brits blew the door, and as soon as Orrell entered the bunker, the whole garrison surrendered.  Happy that their war was over, the Germans were celebrating with alcohol.

Copyright 2010, John Hamill

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