Stp255 Fort du Roule Cherbourg
Mountain-top gun casemates linked by tunnel system
Stp255 Fort du Roule site overview
What to see
Standing high on the prominent mountain overlooking the city and port of Cherbourg is a formidable complex of gun casemates and bunkers interconnected by a large tunnel network cut into the rock. The site was originally a 19th Century French fort created and used by the French Navy and became the headquarters of the German’s ‘Fortress Cherbourg’ following the occupation in mid-1940.
Today the site is a mix of public and military land with an excellent, accessible ‘Liberation’ museum located where the fort once stood. The remaining military area has high fences surrounding it and access to the bunkers is out of the question.
The bunkers here include group shelters, ammo stores, four heavy anti-aircraft gun emplacements, a bunker and position for a 60cm searchlight, and also a rear defensive R634 turret bunker.
However, the jewel in the crown of the site is the underground tunnel system – created in March and April 1944 - which leads to four special construction R671 casemates and observation/fire control post on the edge of the cliff top.
This system can be accessed via a pre-arranged guided tour only and will involve you donning a hard hat and headtorch and agreeing to a list of important safety measures.
The Batterie du Roule underground system - which you enter via a small opening protected by a machine gun position - features over 1km of excavated tunnels, all carved out by hand. Along the routes to the casemates are different sized galleries, two for the generator and ventilation systems, an original water tank stand in another, plus there are 5m wide galleries for ammunition storage and 10m wide areas inside where wooden huts were constructed for troop accommodation.
At the end of five long ‘finger’ tunnels are the four R671 concrete gun casemates and the observation post and are a remarkable work of engineering for them to be constructed so high on the mountain side.
Not surprising, the view of the city, port, and coast from the embrasures of the casemates and observation post is incredible and you can see the area the four 10.5cm Skoda-made guns positioned here would have been able to command.
There are some amazing hidden gems to be seen as you walk through the tunnels, and we strongly recommend you experience a tour of the Batterie du Roule. Get in contact with our friend Cyrille via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.exspen.com for more details.