Famous WW2 batterie now amazing museum site
Batterie Todt site overview
What to see
Batterie Todt is one of the most famous WW2 batteries. Work began on building four massive gun casemates at this location in August 1940 just a couple of months after the occupation of northern France. It was originally known as Stp186 Saitenspiel, then Batterie Siegfried, and then named in honour of Fritz Todt, head of the organisation responsible for mass building of bunkers and road systems across Germany and the occupied territories.
The gun towers, or Turms, were constructed for 380mm Krupp-built, battleship guns which were capable of firing shells on the Southern coast of England nearly 30miles away across the English Channel. All four can be visited today, although not all are easily accessible.
The best preserved is Turm 1 which is home to the superb Batterie Todt museum housing thousands of incredible artifacts and the stories from the construction, life at the batterie, and their capture by Canadian forces in 1944. This Turn can easily be seen from the roads into the area, helped along by the massive K5 railway gun which stands outside and remains the only one of its type in Europe.
Turm 2 is still in good condition although this has now been blocked off for entry by the public and is used as a refuge for wildlife, including some rare species of bat.
Turm 3 was destroyed in an accidental explosion after the war had ended and although it can be visited you need to do so with care. On the walk through the woods surrounding the bunker you come across some massive pieces of concrete which show you just how large the explosion must have been to throw them so far away from the main structure.
Turm 4 is open to the elements and can be accessed, again with care. The lower levels have been sealed off, but you can walk through the corridors to the shell and powder rooms – both feature original anti-British artwork amongst more modern ‘art’ – and into the main gun room which tend to be flooded due to the open front of the casemate.
Standing on the plinth where the gun stood and rotated and looking up gives you a real sense of perspective to the size of the weapon once housed here.
If you look closely at our drone views of Turn 4 you can see smaller concrete positions built on top, one for observation and close protection and the other looks like an anti-aircraft position.
The same observation posts can be found facing towards each other on many of the larger bunkers in the area and these were used for communication purposes, often with light-based semaphore devices similar to large binoculars.
The batterie’s Turms were supported by many other buildings including personnel shelters, troop barracks, defensive positions, communications cable bunkers, a water storage bunker, and even a hospital - most of which can still be seen today.