Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour
Follow in the footsteps of the US 4th Infantry who landed on Utah Beach
Full day: Utah Beach Landing Museum > Leclerc Monument
> Wn10 bunker site > Strongpoint 12 bunker
> Crisbecq Batterie > Crisbecq Command Bunker
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 1 Utah Beach Landing Museum
LOCATION: Musee du Debarquement Utah Beach, Plage de la Madeleine, Utah Beach, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
This tour starts at the amazing Utah Beach Landing Museum - built on the spot where the US 4th Infantry landed on D-Day June 6, 1944.
The museum, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2022, is the location for many memorials and unique artifacts, amazing vehicles, and even an aircraft!
Many of the original structures were incorporated into the construction of the Utah Beach Museum and if you look closely when walking around you'll see where. In the entrance hall there's a long concrete building which was once barracks for the site, while a Vf2a shelter and mortar Tobruk can be found in two of the internal galleries.
One of the most striking features of the site is a bespoke hangar built to display the museum's B-26 Marauder aircraft, the type which bombed this area on D-Day.
This site is also well known for its numerous memorials and some of these are sited on top of bunkers. Near to the US Navy Memorial, depicting three US sailors, is a 5cm KwK anti-tank gun still in the same position as it was when the area was liberated by US forces landing on the beach on June 6, 1944.
The Utah Beach sign, Sherman tank, and landing craft outside the museum are some of the most photographed objects in the whole of Normandy!
Loads of parking, friendly staff and guides, and a cafe nearby.
APPROX TIME: 3 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: Signposted from all major routes around the area, the museum stands at the end of the D913 road from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont on Utah Beach.
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 2 Leclerc Monument
LOCATION: Leclerc Monument, 50480 Saint-Martin-de-Varreville
The French 2nd Armoured Division are remembered at this special site on Utah Beach - the location of their landing in August 1944, led General Philippe Leclerc to help in the liberation of their homeland from occupying forces. They were the Division which were attributed with the liberation of Paris and continued into Germany in April 1945 and were first into Hitler's Eagale's Nest, in Berchtesgaden.
There are three vehicles here, all with the 2nd Armoured Division and Free French forces badges.
Perhaps the standout of the three is the M4A2 Sherman tank with its 75mm gun. This tank had a crew of five and was armed with additional weapons including two .30cal and one .50cal machine guns.
The second is a Ford-built M8 light armoured car. The M8, nicknamed the ‘Greyhound’, could reach 55mph and had a range of over 300 miles over good terrain. It was equipped with a 37mm gun with telescopic gunsight and usually .30 calibre and .50 calibre machine guns too.
A crew of four consisted of a driver, co-driver, gunner, and commander/radio operator.
Over 8,500 were built between 1943 and 1945, with France employing nearly 700 of them.
The third vehicle is a M3 half-track armoured personnel carrier variant. M3s were capable of transporting up to 12 men and their equipment up to a 200-mile range at a maximum speed of 45mph. It was normally fitted with a .30 calibre or .50 calibre machine gun for protection.
Over 53,000 were built and the M3 was the basis for dozens of different variants including ones fitted with anti-aircraft guns, howitzers, and a platform for mortars.
APPROX. TIME: 25 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From the car park at the Utah Beach Landing Museum head north west on the D421 with the beach on your right hand side for 4.5km. You'll see the memorial and vehicles on your right hand side. Car park can get busy.
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 3 Wn10 bunker complex
LOCATION: Wn10 bunker complex, Saint-Martin-de-Varreville,
The German bunkers at Wn10 Hameau Mottet les Temples on Utah Beach form one of the most complete strongpoints in the whole of Normandy.
The position still features over 20 accessible structures of around a dozen different types including three big gun casemates, mortar and machine gun Tobruks, personnel shelters, a garage, and ammunition stores, and all are accessible within a short walk along the dunes.
The largest casemate - a R612 - once housed a 7.5cm Feldkanone and covered the beach area to the north of this extensive position.
Inside the R612 you can see two niches for ammunition storage, the pipework where the air vent would have been to extract the gases created after firing, and also the ridges on the concrete floor which would have held the gun for different firing positions. Beneath some modern graffiti is some original German artwork too.
To the south you’ll find two bunkers for 47mm Czech-built Skoda guns to cover the southern end of the beach position. The original casemate is accessible and you can see inside where the gun would have been along with an observation slit to direct fire. In 1943, this bunker was superseded by a much stronger build just a few yards away.
This strongpoint boasts a strong line of defence along the ridge of the dunes overlooking the beach and also a number of personnel shelters, ammunition stores, defence bunkers, and a garage in the field behind.
If the tide is out you'll also be able to see a section of roadway from the Gooseberry Harbour in front of the Monument and a floating concrete road support, known as a beetle, 100 yards north of the R612 gun bunker.
MORE INFO IN OUR BUNKER SITES SECTION
APPROX. TIME: 1 HOUR
DIRECTIONS: Wn10 is to the left along the beach at the Leclerc Monument. Walk over the dune and look to your left and you'll see the first two bunkers.
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 4 Strongpoint 12 Peace Mural bunker
LOCATION: Stp12 Ravenoville-St-Hubert
Strongpoint Stp12 was a relatively small complex but boasted a strong defence. The most obvious building at the site is the R667 casemate. Adapted from the standard design, this structure has three fighting positions - the main embrasure for a 5cm KwK gun facing south along the beach plus a second aperture for a machine gun covering the north. In addition, there’s a ‘basement’ section looking south which has an opening for a second machine gun too, giving the casemate a lot of firepower.
However, this structure is best known for the painting of a peace mural on the road side of the casemate which has a poignant line underneath simply stating “Who changes the children changes the World”.
The painting both highlights and covers the multiple impact marks from high explosive rounds which smashed into the landward side of the concrete as the allies made their way up the coast after landing on Utah Beach just to the south of this strongpoint.
In the field behind is a rare R634 bunker which featured a six embrasure armoured steel cupola on top with 360 range of fire.
APPROX. TIME: 15 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From the Leclerc Monument car park turn right on to the D421 road and drive for 2.7km. The bunker is on the right hand side - you can't miss it!
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 5 Crisbecq Batterie
LOCATION: Crisbecq Batterie, Route de Crisbecq, 50310 Saint-Marcouf
The Crisbecq batterie is the largest batterie behind Utah Beach and was one of the toughest sites for the allies to crack following the D-Day landings. That's not surprising when you see the size of the gun casemates and defensive positions at the complex.
The two largest casemates at Crisbecq are R683 types which were built around 210mm guns capable of reaching ships over 30km out to sea. There were two more of these casemates still under construction in 1944 which would have made this batterie even more fearsome.
Overall, the site boasts over 40 different structures including gun bunkers, defensive positions, open emplacements, personnel shelters, flak positions, all of which are accessible in a circular tour which features information boards all the way around.
Both the R683 casemates were destroyed in accidental explosions - a remarkable feat when you realize they consist of over 2,000m3 of concrete and 120 tons of steel. The roof on these casemates is 3.5m thick to prevent damage form Allied air raids.
APPROX. TIME: 2.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: From Stp12 mural bunker continue to head north on the D421 until you reach a mini roundabout - turn left on to the D15 and then after 300m turn right towards Quineville.
After 2.8km on the D421 turn left onto the D69 Route de Crisbecq. The batterie is on your right hand side. Lots of parking, a cafe, and shop.
Utah Beach & Bunkers Tour - Part 6 Crisbecq Batterie Command Bunker
LOCATION: Musee Poste De Commandement des Batteries de Crisbecq, Route de Crisbecq, 50310 Saint-Marcouf
This is the Command bunker and fire control post for the Crisbecq batterie at Saint Marcouf, near Utah Beach - one of the largest bunkers constructed in this part of Normandy.
It’s believed that it was from this viewpoint that the first Allied ships were spotted on the morning of D-Day and there’s a lot of history surrounding this site, it’s commander, and the Allied assault by the US 4th Infantry too - including links to the Hollywood movie Saving Private Ryan.
This position was one of the most damaging batteries of D-Day and one of the last to be captured by the Allied forces.
Our good friend owns the bunker and has created an amazing museum inside with a lot of original and fascinating items from the era - guided tours are highly recommended.
APPROX. TIME: 1 HOUR
DIRECTIONS: Just across the road from the Crisbecq Batterie. Parking is to the rear of the Command Bunker.