Mont Canisy batterie
Huge hillside batterie which was a D-Day target
Mont Canisy site overview
What to see
The Mont Canisy batterie high on the hillside at Berneville-sur-Mer in Normandy received a lot of attention from Allied bombers in the run up to D-Day on June 6, 1944.
Located to the east of Sword Beach and the proposed Band beach landing zones, it was thought the guns positioned at this large complex would impact the landing to the west and so were also engaged on the morning of D-Day by the battleships HMS Warspite and Ramillies.
Both ships - positioned out of range of the batteries guns - opened fire on the site at 5.30am and suppressed the guns for most of the day, allowing smaller cruisers and destroyers to move into position to continue the fire missions until the batterie was silenced during the afternoon.
This extensive bombardment was due to aerial recon aircraft pinpointing the extensive gun casemates and open emplacements at the site in the run up to the landings - some of which were legacy builds from the original French naval batterie located here from 1935 until its capture in 1940.
Mont Canisy's six open emplacements were enhanced by the addition of three R679 casemates in 1942 (a fourth was planned but never built) which were due to house captured French guns of 155mm although only one was ever put in place by the time the Allies attacked.
However, the batterie also boasted over 250 metres of unseen, underground tunnels. This extensive tunnel system linked five R134 ammunition stores which stood behind and below the original French open emplacements and R679 casemates. There are several entrances, including one near to the kitchen and canteens at the south east of the site.
The complex covers over 25 hectares and is heavily wooded in places but you can also get a glimpse of many other builds. Protecting the entrance road you can see a Vf67 type Tobruk with a restored French tank turret attached and not far away are two Fire Control Posts, the most westerly one is a double version and can be accessed with care. On top of the smaller FCP is a tribute stone to the sailors from Warspite and Ramillies.
German forces evacuated the site on August 21, 1944 as the Allied advance headed east out of Normandy.
A group of volunteers now look after the site - which is now a nature reserve - and they hold a few open days during the summer months where the tunnel system can be accessed as part of a guided tour.