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The Guns At Longues, A Real Life Guns of Navarone

A view of the surviving guns

The situation is critical, and ships must come in.  On the cliffs above and between two key beaches is a major enemy position, the heart of which are four 150mm naval guns that can sink any ship afloat.  They are well protected by anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, and more.  The forward observation bunker has two levels, so that if the top one goes, the bottom one can survive and continue. 

In this case, it is not a movie and there is no plucky band that includes David Niven to attack from behind/inside.  What you have are the guns at Longues, and they commanded the sea from the heights between Omaha and Gold.  Attempts to silence the guns via bombing failed, with the bombing doing surprisingly little damage to the huge gun emplacements.  Bombardment by ships including the American battleship Arkansas and the French cruiser Georges Leygues failed to silence the battery -- and shelling from the guns forced the flagship HMS Bulolo to retreat. 


The observation and range-finding bunker, a few hundred meters forward of the guns

Finally, the British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut closed to point-blank range and engaged in a gun duel with the battery. 



The remains of the one gun


As best anyone can reconstruct, a shell from one of the cruisers struck the one gun and penetrated its splinter shield just after it had fired and while it was being reloaded.  The best guess is that the magazine door was open for that process, and the resultant explosion did what bombs had failed to do, and destroyed the bunker and the gun.  If you walk behind,you will find a 20-plus-ton chunk of the bunker tossed several meters away. 


All that remains of the gun


Eventually, three of the four guns were taken out by the cruisers. 


Another gun, shield penetrated by fire from a cruiser

And another


The remaining gun continued to fire on an intermittent basis until about 7 pm that evening.


Still defiant


After that, the battery fell silent and surrendered to the 231st Infantry Brigade the following day.  Many visitors fail to appreciate the extent of the complex, as fields cover or mask many of the surviving bunkers.  If you study the vegetation and the fields, you can still see where the trench network ran.  I do have many more shots, and hope to do a photographic study over at Laughing Wolf soon.  I also have a different shot from the day posted there as well


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  Normandy coverage also made possible by Enterprise Rent A Car Caen Railway Office.   My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

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