V1 site Wasswerwerk 2 Cherbourg
Captured French site with big V weapon plans
V1 site Wasserwerk 2 location
What to see
This site on the western outskirts of Cherbourg was planned to be one of the key locations for Hitler’s V weapons and features an extensive tunnel system under the hillside near to the current port and French Naval base.
It was the French Navy who originally constructed the underground facility at Brecourt, excavating eight large storage areas and tunnels for fuel oil in the 1930s. When the German Army captured the site in 1940 it continued to be a fuel store until being earmarked for further development and the storage of around 300 V2 rockets with a launch platform nearby.
Initial plans were for the site to be fully operational by mid-1944 but a series of Allied bombing raids on V1 sites from November 1943 saw plans change and in early 1944 construction began on creating a launch ramp for V1 flying bombs instead.
Linked to the tunnels, this building had some similarities to the protected ramp style used in many early V1 launch sites in Normandy and beyond with two large blast walls protecting the ramp.
However, this building also differed from the standard designs. It measured 75 metres long by 25 metres high and featured a gas dispersal design with a 45 degree slope deflecting the exhausted fuel from the V1.
Instead of the usual independent Walter ramp, it is believed that this one was due to be attached to the sides of the walls, and grooves are still visible running along the inner walls. The direction of the ramp indicates it would have been used to launch V1s at the southwest of England, particularly Bristol, and also at Cardiff in South Wales.
As with all of the large V1 sites it never became operational, and Brecourt was captured by US forces on June 17, 1944.
The site is still in active use by the French Navy and so no visitors are allowed however it can be accessed on one day each year – usually in mid-September - as part of the French Heritage Day scheme.