Wn123 Havre de Houlvi
Extensive concrete trenches rare to find in Normandy
Wn123 site overview
What to see
It’s rare to find concrete trenches from WW2 in Normandy, and even rarer to find them so extensive and in such good condition as those at Wn123 Havre de Houlvi, near Gatteville.
Located on a rocky outcrop of land flanked by the sea and an aquaculture site, these interwoven passages link a series of gun and mortar positions, a searchlight stand, observation posts, and personnel shelters.
There are hundreds of metres of trenches on this piece of land which gets surrounded by the sea at high tide. Each trench is slightly different too - some are wider than others, some have ammo niches, anti-blast designs, and some sections are covered over with a protective concrete roof.
Many Normandy trenches were simply dug into the soil and can only be seen by a slight dip or change of vegetation colouration from above.
But at this site, which protected the eastern side of the huge Gatteville batterie, they were dug into solid coastal rock and made more permanent hence why they still exist today.
Wn123 features two 1694 Ringstands - one is almost completely buried - and a Vf58c Tobruk at its most southerly point with trenches stretching back to connect them to various shelters and a ringstand type position with a wide concrete plinth which suggests is for either an anti-aircraft gun or heavy machine gun.
Back towards the bay and aquaculture site you'll find a series of personnel shelters, a Bf69 Mortar Tobruk, and a Wellblech, along with further concrete trenches extending in to the private land of the aquaculture site.
The Wellblech is interesting as the roof beams look to be far too long for the size of construction and could have been a case of just what was available at the time or there were plans to incorporate another build next to it, one which was never constructed.
Parking is near the aquaculture site but the road in is narrow so it can pay to be careful.