Grandcamp-Maisy - History

History

In 1 November 1972, the commune formerly known as Grandcamp-les-Bains amalgamated with Maisy (Its old INSEE code was 14392) and changed its name to Grandcamp-Maisy.

Until recently, the site was overgrown and had been covered by US engineers before the end of 1944, well before any historians had chance to examine the site. Englishman Gary Sterne rediscovered the site after finding a German map, and has purchased some of the site and turned it into a museum with over 2½ miles of original German trenches and bunkers. From his research, it is obvious that the site is many times larger than was originally thought. The labyrinth of underground tunnels had remained hidden for around 60 years. It contains offices, a supplies buildings, general quarters, radio rooms, and many other blocks, including an underground hospital (one of three which has been uncovered can be visited).

It may well be that when all the site is cleared and all the bunkers that are buried are rediscovered, this site will be the largest on the Atlantic Wall in Normandy. The sheer size of the site poses many questions as to why it does not feature more prominently in German records, and why the site did not have more attention paid to it by the Allies. It was bombed, but not hit to any extent before D-Day. On D-Day, the HMS Hawkins claimed to have put the guns out of action, but then other battleships were firing at it for another 3 days. The three casemates on the left side of the site (La Martiniere) show no sign of damage from the front, only superficial damage from the east when the Rangers attacked on foot. This was the direction from which the battery was attacked on June 9. Despite this, in the Royal Navy History of D-day it states that HMS Hawkins silenced the batteries on D-day, despite the fact that many other ships claimed to have done the same thing over many days. Hawkins also claimed to have put the battery at St. Martin de Varreville out of action, it is a well-known fact that the guns were not there on the morning of D-Day and had been moved further north. The town became the headquarters of General Bradley after it was liberated on June 9.

The site has been excavated and was opened as a Museum in April 2007.

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