Mimoyecques, la base V3


In May 1943, Hitler gave the order to begin work of a gigantic underground base intended to launch a christened rocket V3 (V:Vergeltung (reprisals), 3 bus it was the third generation of rockets of this type).

This weapon of the last chance, like had called it Führer, was intended to destroy London and the south of England in order to prevent the unloading of the troops on the French littoral.


The 2,60 meters length V3 for a gauge of 152mm, had a range of 130 kilometers and could reach the incredible speed of 1.500 m/s. It was propelled by a gun with high pressure makes of forty sections (127 meters length) and of twenty-eight rooms with powder distributed along the tube. The tests were estimated as a success though the tube of the gun burst once all the three blows.
At at the beginning of 1943, the "gun of London", that Hitler called the "pump high-pressure" (or HDP is Hochdruckpumpe), was strongly supported by the German Minister for industry and the armament, Albert Speer. It is besides him which conceived the idea of an underground bunker to shelter up to 50 of these guns on the French coast of Pas-de-Calais. Even the rate of shooting was envisaged: each gun was to draw every five minutes, that is to say meadows of 600 projectiles per hour as of the middle of 1944.

The weapon could be installed only on the part of the coast which advanced more in direction of England. The selected site was to be a round hill of more than 100 meters above the sea level.The ground was to be consisted a resistant rock. Moreover, its situation was to be favourable as regards transport.
Two sites were put in building site but that of Moyecques, more in the west, less buried, was destroyed dice the first bombardments and was given up.
The construction of the base of Mimoyecques required considerable work and the use of a significant labour recruited by the Nazis with the title of obligatory work. Several thousands of deportees of 17 different nations (Jews, Germans common law criminal or right military, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, French, etc…) were enrôlés of force in the boring of a tunnel of more than 600 meters and five side galleries, under the direction of 450 minors of Rhur who directed the control of the building site to more than 100 meters under ground.
The essential part of the installation was consisted the tilted galleries. Four galleries were built in a first stage. It is probable that a fifth gallery was envisaged in reserve. These galleries were tilted according to an angle of 51 degrees and measured 150 meters length. They were dug in direction of the objective. In fact the direction of each gallery was slightly different, in order to reach a widened face. The very significant dispersion of the not stabilized projectiles was largely enough to ensure the in-depth required effect and in width.
The tilted galleries were approximately 2,50 meters wide and 3 meters in height, arches included/understood, with a ground laid out in staircase. It is in the medium of the gallery that the slope of shooting was to be assembled. Each gallery sheltered six guns; the fire power assigned with the installation was thus, in a first stage, of 24 pieces of ordnance, which represented a considerable power.
For the power supply of the guns, a loading platform was planned all the three or five meters. It is there that were to be held the teams of being useful. Their task was going to consist in permanently loading the cartridges in a given order. A cable car fixed at the vault of each gallery was planned for the transport of the loads.
Taking into account the length of the tubes, there was to be in each tilted gallery 30 or 50 loading platform. With four galleries, that thus accounted for 120 or 200 platforms which would have been served day and night. With the changing that represented at least 500 being useful. Came to be added to it the teams of transport, the direction of the shooting and the auxiliary personnel, which would have carried the total staff complement to a minimum of 1200 men.
For the personnel, vast buildings were envisaged with the stage with 30 meters of depth. The ventilation of such a system of galleries raised great difficulties, in particular the elimination of gases of explosion.
It was necessary moreover, to envisage vast rooms of storage of the ammunition. They were built with mitigating 60 meters of depth. The residences of the personnel and the rooms of storage were connected by galleries; vertical circulation was ensured by elevators, spared inside the hill.
Meadows of 6000 blows per day, with projectiles of a weight of approximately 140 kilogrammes, cartridges included/understood, that represented a daily consumption of approximately 800 tons. One thought of making come this enormous provisioning by railway. It was necessary for that to establish a special connection with the Calais-Caffiers line. This strap started from Caffiers, passed to the south of Landrethun-the-North, crossed by a tunnel the hill of Mimoyecques, skirted the wood of the Abbey and joined the principal line with Pihen-les-Guines. The tunnel was with the stage with 30 meters of depth. Its entry was protected by a door from steel against the glares from bombs. Only during July 1944, the station of Caffiers accepted 5.000 coaches, for the site of Mimoyecques. For the case where the provisioning by rail would have been stopped, the ammunition were to arrive by trucks. Those would have returned in the railway tunnel for unloading and would have left by the southern door. This exit was also to be protected by a door from steel. One had envisaged deposits of truck with Desvres, St Omer, Boulogne and Calais.
On the top of the hill, a rectangular loophole, formed of a gigantic concrete flagstone five meters thickness whose mouth was to be closed automatically by steel doors processed in the Krupp factories, of two meters quarante-cinq thickness.
The installation was to be done in the greatest secrecy and had received the code name "the Wiese" (meadow). Thus, the rock, at the exit with the free air, was sprinkled with a product of green camouflage. The men who worked on the surface had clothing of color dark green. And the minors arrived the morning, before the paddle, in trucks and did not set out again about it, the evening, that after laying down it sun.
But such an animation on the plate of Mimoyecques could not pass unperceived… in particular from the French Resistance which warned the Staff Combined in London of it. With the autumn 1943, a line of haystacks, hiding the flues ventilating, whereas everywhere else the hay had returned, confirmed the received information.
Dice November 1943, the first bombs fell, alas unnecessarily, transforming the sector of Mimoyecques into lunar landscape. The following raids made work difficult: power failures, disturbed routing of materials… but without preventing the Germans with 150 meters under ground, to continue the installation of the installations.

6 July 1944, preceded since the morning by a preparation by bombardments which destroyed all the ANTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENCE, the 19 bombers of the squadron Léonard Cheschire, the R.A.F, ravelled the ones after the others, by a sunny time. 16 bombs "earthquake", of 5,4 tons each one, were released on the site, of which 7 touched the work.
One of these bombs penetrated in a 28 meters depth, found the tube tilted of the gun, descended it and exploded in the second gallery where several hundreds of people (at least six or seven hundreds) were, who perished. Gases went up to the first gallery and were so powerful that the Germans believed in the first attack by gas of the war. Those which escaped from it, could testify after the war and provided the same indications: the gases, the breath which tore off their clothing to them and flooding, (all pockets of water of the hill being burst and communicating the ones with the others).
The Germans tried to give the work in state but they gave up it.
All the bombs having made significant damage but having exploded under ground, the observer of the bombardment indicated in his report/ratio "null effect" ". Also the Allies continued to bombard the work.
In August 1944, a sailplane, stuffed of explosive, tackled the work. The sailplane was hung above a bomber but this one was obstructed by the D.C.A. of Saint-Inglevert and Marchioness, and the sailplane missed its goal of several hundred meters; the explosion was so strong that it caused the escape of all those which worked in the fields with several kilometers with the round.
August 12, 1944 at 17. 52, a plane Libérator PBLY took off of Becles, to a good hundred kilometers in the north of London, with twelve tons of explosives Torpex, much more powerful than the TNT. The flight plan envisaged the passage above Clacton-one-Sea and Wissant. The pilot and the navigator of edge were to jump in parachute little before Wissant, to be recovered by the patrol craft of Navy. Two Venturas planes were radio to then guide the plane-projectile on its target of Mimoyecques.
For an unexplained reason, Libérator exploded at 18. 20 above the hamlet of Blythburg, with a hundred and sixty kilometers in the North-East of London. On its board, Joé Kennedy, elder brother of President Kennedy.

The work was on bombarded last once August 27, 1944, date on which it was finally given up by the Germans. The site had then received 11 000 bombs of a total weight of 14 500 tons, distributed on 28 bombardments.
The Canadians seized on next 5 September it, without knowing its nature exactly. In February 1945, an English report/ratio of the Sanders mission charged to examine the sites of the weapons V in Pas-de-Calais, concluded that it was necessary to destroy the installation completely in order to prevent that it serf again against England. At the time of 2 attempts, May 9 and on May 14, 1945, the British Genius made jump the gun platform partly and blocked the entry and the exit of the principal gallery. It will remain about it there, considering that the work would be as expensive to give in state as to build.

Opened with the public, this fortress constitutes a remarkable course of history;it also became an international place of meeting to honour the victims still buried in the lower stages.

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