It was July 4, and it had just started raining hard when we left the American cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. The bleak weather was kind of fitting to the somber mood of that national memorial. Our last stop before returning to Paris was a German gun embankment. While most everyone waited on the bus, a few of us ventured out into the rain. The umbrella in my backpack proved useful that afternoon.
The Longues-sur-Mer battery, near the French village of Longues-sur-Mer in Normandy formed a part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications. The site consisted of four 152-mm navy guns, each protected by a large concrete casemate, a command post, shelters for personnel and ammunition, and several defensive machine-gun emplacements. The battery was situated between the landing beaches Omaha and Gold.
On the night before the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, the battery was subject to heavy bombing from allied air forces. The battery fired a total of 170 shots throughout the day. Three of the four guns were eventually disabled by British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut, though a single gun continued to operate intermittently until 1900hrs that evening. The crew of the battery (184 men, half of them over 40 years old) surrendered to the 231st Infantry Brigade the following day.