The Azeville battery is a key component of the Atlantic Wall. Built by the Germans to prevent Allied landings, the Wall is a series of diverse fortifications including small military units. In Azeville, to help soldiers fight off boredom and loneliness, one camp was converted to a mess and thus became a social space. On Tatihou, vestiges of Organisation Todt’s Wall were unearthed during archaeological digs. They will be unveiled afresh for the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
In Azeville: reconstruction of the mess, a German social space
Although it does not have a view of the coast, the Azeville battery is a component of the Atlantic Wall. Built within easy reach of the village, its location marked the beginning of Germany’s presence on the Manche coastline. Up to 173 German soldiers between the ages of 19 and 54 were stationed at the battery. Their day-to-day lives, between 1942 and June 1944, were monotonous – their tasks and activities at the barracks repetitive and tedious. The village’s café, therefore, was the only venue around for gathering socially. But relations with the local community were complicated, and that’s why the German Chief-of-Staff decided to offer soldiers somewhere to relax within their barracks. A timber building, located on the site’s West side, was thus converted into a “Kasino”: a mess. This became an essential social place for the soldiers.
For the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Manche département has decided to reconstruct this site. The mess will thus round off the visitor itinerary around the battery.
Tatihou: vestiges of the Atlantic Wall
On the island of Tatihou, the last fortifications to be built date back to World War II. Erected by Organisation Todt, these German structures are representative of the Atlantic Wall sites along the coast. They can mainly be found within Tatihou Fort. They have been arranged at strategic corners of the 19th century bastions, and feature various types of defensive elements. Take, for example, the blockhouses for field guns, Tobruk pits (individual observation posts) and other firing posts for machine guns, connected by a network of trenches.
Since the spring of 2018, the Département has been conducting groundwork to clear away the vegetation from these components of the Wall that had completely hidden them from view.