La Forteresse de Mimoyecques

Mimoyecques V3 Site


Useful Information

Location: Mimoyecques, near Landrethun. Motorway Calais-Boulogne exit 7, D231 to Landrethun, then signs to Mimoyecques.
Open: APR to JUN daily 9-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP daily 9-18.
[2010]
Fee: Adults EUR 5.50, Children (6-16) EUR 4, Children (0-5) free, Family (2+5) EUR 12.50.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 4.50, School Pupils EUR 3.35.
[2010]
Classification:  World War II Bunker
Light: electric
Dimension: L=7,000m
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Mimoyecques - BASE V3 Fortress Mimoyecques, 62250 Landrethun-Le-Nord, Tel: +33-321-871034, Fax: +33-321-833310. E-mail: contact
Reservation, Tel: +33-321-930707.
Last update:$Date: 2013/04/25 22:59:35 $

History

 
1943bunker built.
06-JUL-1944bombed by the allies using the powerful Tallboy bomb.
2008closed for renovation.
01-JUL-2010reopened to the public.

Description

La Forteresse de Mimoyecques is the site of the V3. V is the abbreviation of Vergeltungswaffe, which means revenge weapon, a really strange twist in the Nazi language: it was explained in propaganda to be a weapon against the agression of the Allied Forces. Many people believed it, either because of the brain washing propaganda of the Nazis, or because of the ten thousands of dead during allied air raids.

The V3 was, unlike the V2, not a rocket, but a ballistic cannon. It was designed to shoot from the French coast to London, a distance of about 100km. This was too far for any kind of existing cannon, but the V2 rockets were too difficult and complex to build, too inaccurate and did not carry enough blasting agent for the Endsieg.

So the German scientists planned a cannon which would be able to shoot across the the channel. The necessary size of the cannon was enormous, and it was absolutely impossible to build it on the surface. So an undergroung system of tunnels was built, up to 100m deep, with a diagonal tunnel which soon should contain the cannons. The construction used 482,000 tons of concrete, and 7 kilometers of tunnels were completed. The whole installation was covered by a bunker system of concrete and steel, designed by Albert Speer, Hitlers architect. Starting with the construction of a single cannon, the plan was to install 25 of them.

It was two years before the end of the war. The Nazi strategists knew that they had to force the war or it would be lost. So time was the most important factor. The SS did what they always did: they operated a KZ (concentration camp) with slave workers. Most of them were from eastern Europe, and their life expectancy was only a couple of weeks.

The construction of the cannons was noticed by resistance groups who reported to London. The Allies knew they had to destroy it before it was completed, but it was heavily fortified and almost impossible to destroy. They had a risky plan to pack a bomber full of high explosives, to target it on the bunker and the let it fall on the top of the installation. The plane was piloted Joseph Patrick Kennedy the older brother of John F. Kennedy, the later president of the USA. While it was unclear if the plane would hit the goal after it was abandoned and if the explosives were sufficient to destroy the bunker, the plan finally failed because of an electrical fault, which caused the bombs to explode while they were still over England.

The Allies started air raids on the installation and they were lucky. A tallboy bomb, a special deep penetration bomb which was developed to destroy bunkers, hit one of the gun shafts and exploded inside the bunker. The explosion caused various destructions and killed many people inside the structure, German soldiers and slave workers. And the survivers were drowned by the ground water, which flooded the passages as a result of the destroyed pumps. Further hits destroyed parts of the main passage. Finally the destruction of installation was so high, it was abandoned.

The Forteresse de Mimoyecques is today part of the World War II museum La Coupole at St Omer, which is a V2 launching site. It was developed by a private operator, who closed it in 2008 due to retirement. The Conservatoire des sites naturels du Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Wilderness Conservation Nord-Pas-de-Calais) was interested and raised funds of about 330,000 € to buy the site and 360,000 € more to renovate it. The site was reopened in JUL-2010.


See also


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