Stp134 & 135 Crisbecq batterie
Utah Beach's largest gun battery
Stp134 & 135 site overview
What to see
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, as well as a special construction command post. At the edge of the site is a Fire Control Post for the nearby Azeville batterie too.
Building started at the site at Saint Marcouf in 1942 and the batterie was initially equipped with six captured French 155mm cannons placed in open emplacements. These had a range of around 15km.
By the end of 1943 the site was already outdated and following a visit from Erwin Rommel, work began to upgrade the site to a 'heavy batterie' with larger guns.
From January 1944 the battery was placed under the command of the Kriegsmarine, and a garrison of 300 sailors and 100 grenadiers giving additional protection were moved to the site. With them were plans for housing four 210mm guns which would protect the entire sector of Bay of Seine located between St-Vaast-la-Hougue and Pointe du Hoc.
Two R683 casemates - the largest type of gun bunker built in this area - were constructed and two guns were moved in with two further R683s under construction. - work being stopped by the allied landings.
It's not just huge casemates that you can find here - the site also boasts a massive Fire Control Post and Command bunker. This concrete monster overlooks Utah Beach and it’s believed that it was from this viewpoint that the first Allied ships were spotted on the morning of D-Day.
Our good friend owns the command post bunker and has created an amazing museum inside with a lot of original and fascinating items from the era, including binoculars which you can look through to the beach and sea beyond.
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.
There’s a lot of history surrounding this site, it’s commander, and the Allied assault, the loss of one of the Niland brothers (the inspiration behind Saving Private Ryan), and accidental explosions which killed US Engineers. There are a number of memorials to them at the location. In fact, there's too much going on here for us to post here so you'll have to make a visit!
The Crisbecq batterie operates as three separate museum sites - the main batterie, the Fire Control Post and also the front R683 casemate.
More info can be found here:
Crisbecq batterie main site: www.batterie-marcouf.com
Front R683 casemate: www.marcouf44.com
Fire Control/Command Post: www.crisbecq44.fr