Caen & La Coupole

There is an excellent WW2/D-Day Museum in Caen, well worth a visit … but a lot of what’s inside, most of it actually, is audiovisual … so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

About 30 klicks or so outside, however, is La Coupole, the remains of the prime German V2 site in France … where rockets would have been assembled from components brought in from elsewhere, prepared and then rolled out to twin launch sites in the adjacent quarry.

Or it was … until about 2-3 months before it would have been completed in early 44 when the Allies bombed the crap out of it. They didn’t destroy it, actually, but it was damaged badly and, after the war, they did do a number on it for security reasons (afraid the French were going to be taken over by the Commies, I guess … reds under the beds … )

In the last decade or so the locals have excavated it and opened up the main levels under the damaged dome as museums … one on the V weapons and the Resistance in the area during WW2.

That’s the dome/cupola of the Bunker and its damaged surrounding supports from the car-park. Massive bugger. They built it by moulding earth in a cupola shape, pouring the concrete over that, then removing the earth from underneath. Pretty smart, actually.
The main entry tunnel.
V2 from the V Weapons display.

Again, a lot of the stuff inside the museum was audiovisual and the few physical artifacts were poorly lit or in cramped spaces that made it impossible to capture accurately. Couldn’t get an angle on the V2, for example, no matter what I tried.

The D-Day Beaches

The next several days I spent hitting the various D-Day Beaches (not all by any means) and on a trip up to Cherbourg.

The main memorial at the US Cemetery near Omaha Beach.
Remnants of Port Winston (the Mulberry harbour) at Arromanches … both on the beach in the foreground and in the middle distance in the channel.
The memorial on Bloody Omaha.
Point du Hoc – notice the massive cratering from the pre-invasion allied bombing. This is where the Rangers came up the cliffs to find there were no guns! Fortunately, they found them a few hundred meters inland, unmanned, and destroyed them,
The Ranger memorial at the point of Point du Hoc. A stone dagger thrust symbolically into the earth.
One of the two completed Casemates (of four planned) destroyed by Allied bombing.

Bayeaux

The location of the famous tapestry … rubbish lighting make it impossible to capture on a camera. However, there are some displays in the museum upstairs that are of interest.

A reconstruction of a Viking inshore craft. Not a Drakkar.
Preparing the invasion fleet – no, not from the Tapestry proper, from a blow up of important sections in the museum upstairs.
The final stages of the Battle of Hastings. The Norman cavalry are charging through the English lines (over dead Englisg Fyrdsmen, bottom left and centre) …supported by Norman Archers (below right)

Cherbourg

Not much in the way of easily accessible WW2 stuff there … but the Cite de la Mer had Le Redoubtable on display, one of the very first French nuclear ballistic missile subs.

The first thing you notice about the interior, at least if you’ve been aboard as many WW2 era US, British and German diesel electric subs as I have, is how much room there is. It meant i generally didn’t have to hunch over or cram through narrow passageways … and that the officers had roomy cabins (comparatively, of course!) such as this … I’ll post some photos later (in a separate Blog post) of the French Diesel Electric Espadon which is at St Nazaire and you’ll see the difference!
One of the Engineering control spaces
The Officer’s Wardroom.
Crew Bunks … no ‘hot bunking’ aiui, each crewman had his own permanent space.
The Crew Mess.
The Helm
The Plotting Table
The best shot you could get of the whole shebang externally.

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