Coastal complex featuring two rare type railway guns on turntables
Stp356 site overview
What to see
Known as Stp356 at Auderville-Laye on the Northwest Cotentin coast, to the West of Cherbourg, this site was once home to two of Germany’s biggest railway guns.
This complex featured a central railway line and two turntables – the two circular areas you can see on our sea mist covered aerial pics - spaced just a few yards apart. These were used to set the firing direction of the two massive, 20.3cm KE-type railway guns which had been positioned here.
Built by famed steelworks Krupp, these 63ft long monster guns featured 38ft barrels capable of firing an 8-inch, 270lb shell over 22 miles. Only eight were built – the two stationed here were serial numbers 919176 and 919177 – and they were destroyed after the US forces took over the area on June 18, 1944.
The site also once featured over 30 constructions including ammunition stores, an infirmary, a radio bunker, personnel shelters, flak guns sites, and barracks for troops.
Today the area is farmland, but you can still see the scale of the site from above. In our drone image the two bunkers on the left of the central railway line are an R502 shelter, and a special construction radio/comms bunker and each turntable area is surrounded by ammunition storage bunkers.
One thing which does stand out when you look at the bunkers here is the camouflage finish on the concrete. German forces used a lot of different techniques to help camouflage their bunkers and strongpoints including netting and natural weathering on the grey concrete constructions.
In many areas of Normandy you can see that attempts had also been made to add camouflage patterns to the outer walls of some bunkers, usually to break up their outline, reduce shine, or encourage vegetation to take hold.
Here, at strongpoint Stp356, you can see an unusual material has been used in the outer layers - the pattern was created by mixing natural wool or in many cases asbestos wool into the outer concrete.
Given the number of bunkers here and that many of them have this coating on them - there were either a lot of cold sheep in the area or a large supply of asbestos brought in!