The Azeville German Coastal Battery is just north of Sainte-Mère-Eglise near the small town of Azeville about 10 km from Utah Beach. It is one of the first constructions of the Atlantic Wall in France by the Todt Organization of the Third Reich. Built in 1941, it established the presence of the German army along the coast of La Manche. It used a camouflage painted stone to blend in with village houses. It included two bunkers of type H650 and another two with type H671, each housing a French Schneider 105 mm gun from the First World War. These guns were powerful but had less of a range than those of the neighboring battery at Crisbecq. Over 300 meters of underground galleries linked the various shelters, bunkers and defense posts. Located so far inland that it did not have a direct view of the sea, it had to rely on shooting directions from the battery at Crisbecq. A garrison of 170 men served and defended this battery commanded by Commander Treiber and Captain Kattnig. The majority of men bivouacked near the battery, while the officers were accommodated in the village. In 1943 the guns received a prominent visitor when Erwin Rommel inspected the building site. After his visit work began to expand the installation and the guns that were previously placed in open positions were now built into concrete pillboxes, even though the Germans did not believe that the coast in front of the battery was under threat of invasion. Because the calibre of the four guns was only 105 mm, when the Allies landed on the nearby Utah Beach on 6th June 1944 (D-day) they were firing at maximum range and accuracy was therefore not optimal. Despite this, the Germans managed to keep the Americans on Utah under fire for two days, preventing further advances. On 9th June the 170 soldiers at the Crisbecq battery surrendered and a massive bombardment of Azeville by Allied warships started. Eventually the battery was attacked by U.S. troops equipped with flame throwers. The garrison surrendered and the fight for Azeville was over. Standing inside one of the gun casemates, where the gun is long gone, you can look out of the narrow opening towards the coast. At the back wall, down at floor level, is a sizable hole in the concrete wall. Walking through the door, into the ammunition room behind, the hole on the other size is a bit bigger and there is a large gouge in the concrete floor. Apparently this is one of the rounds that came from the SS Nevada. Nearby is the Crisbecq Battery, the largest coastal artillery battery on Utah-Beach, with its 21 pillboxes linked by over a kilometre of trenches covering a total area of 4 hectares. I didn’t pay to visit the entire site but maybe I’ll go back some other day. Meanwhile, there is a plethora of information about it at this site along with some very interesting photos.