June 2003

Lieutenant-colonel Terence B.N. Otway On this day we started far from home at Merville-Franceville, a 1˝ hour drive. Still we arrived too early for the Musée de la Batterie de Merville (Museum of the Battery at Merville). The gate to the terrain was already open so we visited all the bunkers before the museum official opened. To watch the museum in one of the bunkers, we still passed the pay-desk.
We were the only ones in this museum. We thought it was we were early that day, but for the whole day we noticed that it was very quiet everywhere.
The battery at Merville is 2˝ km from the coast. There are still two of the four bunkers from the German battery left. In 1944 there were 130 German soldiers to defend this battery. Taking this battery was the second most important objective of the allies while taking the bridges at Bénouville and Ranville was the most important objective.
750 paratroopers of the 9th Battalion of the 6th British Airborne Division under command of lieutenant-colonel Terence B.N. Otway tried to land here at 1.00 a.m. Unfortunately, most of the paratroopers got lost in the surrounding neighborhood. Lieutenant-colonel Otway found 150 of his men in about an 1 ˝ hour and then started the operation. The battery was conquered at the expense of losing half of his soldiers.
The battle wasn’t over yet until August 17th. Amazingly, the battery had been conquered and lost seven times.

British 5.5 inch Gun The battery of Merville The head bunker