Blockhaus d'Eperlecques V2 site
Enormous concrete construction built to destroy London
Blockhaus d'Eperlecques site location
What to see
You can't help but be blown away when you see the Blockhaus d’ Éperlecques site in Northern France for the first time - it's one of the largest construction projects of the Second World War.
Also known as Kraftwerk Nord (Power station North), this enormous concrete structure was created to build, store, and launch the infamous V2 ballistic missile and was due to be one of 52 similar constructions.
Work started in March 1943 with plans to create a site which could store 108 V2s and fire up to thirty-six V2s from the two launchpads on London each day.
However, the British Royal Air Force had other ideas and first bombed the site in August 1943 - a time when the concrete was still setting - destroying the northernmost part of the building - and was followed by four further raids on the site.
In June and July 1944 a total of 16 ‘bunker-busting’ Tallboy bombs were dropped onto the complex, one even penetrating the 16ft thick roof.
The walls of the blockhaus are 5m thick and over 120,000 cubic metres of concrete and 20,000 tons of reinforcing steel was used. With each cubic metre of concrete weighing 800kg - you can imagine the resources required for the build. The site also saw over 35,000 people - mainly slave labourers - pass through the site in the first nine months of construction.
The site is much more than a huge concrete block though, and the walk around takes you through the construction process. The concrete roof was raised by hydraulic jacks as the building was constructed layer by layer underneath. Despite the bombing in 1943, work continued for another 12 months, at the same time the occupying forces were also constructing the nearby La Coupole, leading many to think that the Blockhaus here was purely a decoy site. It was also planned that the blockhaus would be a liquid oxygen production and storage facility - the fuel which powered the V2 missiles - but the intense bombing meant that never came to fruition either.
Walking around inside the blockhaus gives you a sense of scale and there are several interesting displays including a 'Disney' bomb - a 4,500lb, rocket-propelled bomb which was first tested on this location.
The journey to the blockhaus from the entrance to the site is fascinating too with a series of stops along the way where you can see two preserved railway carriages used to transport slave labour to the site, several concrete training bombs, various trucks, anti-aircraft guns, and even a miniature submarine - a very eclectic mix!
On September 4, 1944 the site was captured by Canadian forces - it had never fired a single V2 on London.
Outside there is a memorial to the workers and local residents who were killed during the bombing raids in August 1943.
Please note: Drone photography is not allowed at Blockhaus d'Eperlecques - we received special permission to fly at the site.