La Forteresse de Mimoyecques

 

 

La Forteresse de Mimoyecques

 

Mimoyecques Fortress, also called « The London Gun » is one of the most impressive military units imagined by Hitler. Located a few kilometers from the “2-Caps” site in Landrethun-le-Nord, this secret underground base was meant to be used for the installation of the “V3 super gun”.

 

Like all retaliation weapons, the V3, a multi-charge gun, was designed to bomb England, especially the heart of London. This WW2 secret base codenamed “Wiese” (meadow) and “Bauwerk 711” (building site) was built from Spring 1943 to Summer 1944 by more than one thousand forced workers of various origins.

 

A vast network of galleries was dug in a chalk hill serving five firing shafts with five super guns each. The guns were meant to hit the target a thousand and five hundred times a day. A twin site located one kilometer apart should have been built and should have sheltered twenty-five guns; together they would have sent three thousand shells a day at London.

 

Despite several air bombings, from November 1943 to Spring 1944, it was not until July 6th 1944 that Mimoyecques underground galleries were damaged. The Fortress was then attacked using a new kind of bomb: the Tallboy bomb. This air operation led by the 617 R.A.F squadron under the orders of Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, put an end to the great threat for Londoners.

 

All the construction work was abandoned a few weeks later before the Canadian army arrived on September 5th 1944. After several inspection reports and according to Churchill‘s orders the Fortress was blown up in May 1945 so that it could not be used again in the future as a military base.

 

The Fortress was opened as a museum by private owners in 1984, and acquired by the “Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels du Nord et du Pas-de- Calais”, a nature association, in 2008. After two years of work, the site was re-opened to the public in 2010.