Saturday, 5 July 2014

Batterie Todt

The Batterie Todt was an important part of the coastal fortifications known as the Atlantic Wall built by the Nazis in the last war. It is located in the hamlet of Haringzelle, near Cape Gris Nez. The battery had four 38cm Krupp guns with a range up to 55.7 km (approx 35 miles) easily capable of reaching the British coast. Each gun was housed in a protective bunker of reinforced concrete. These were basically the same naval guns used on the Bismark etc. This is the only bunker open to the public and houses an interesting museum of artifacts concentrating mainly on the life of the Germans manning the battery. It must have been very claustrophobic especially in the tunnel,1.5m sq, down which a soldier had to crawl to grease the turntable bearings of the gun platform. There is a comprhensive display of weaponry from both sides. Lots of signs saying 'no photographs' inside the bunker but the moble phones and iPads were popping off everywhere and no one said a word so I set the X100 to ISO1600, no flash, no noise and shot from the hip.

The other three bunkers are not officially open as they have been vandelised and have become unsafe.
Outside stands one of the two remaining Krupp K5 28cm railway mounted guns of which eight were made, the other remaining example is in the USA. Designed for service in the Invasion of France to support the infantry, problems were encountered with the barrel splitting that was rectified with changes to the rifling. The guns were then reliable until the end of the war, under the designation K5 Tiefzug 7 mm. Three of them were installed on the Channel coast to sink British shipping in the Channel, and unfortunately proved successful at this task.

A personal photographic note
I've heard that there has been comments about members taking 'postcards'. Well, all these shots from the Somme are my postcards, they are my personal memory jolters, the last thing on my mind was the club judge (I was one for over 30 years). Who ever made those comments should remember that the stylised competition pictures, and the navel contemplating images some independent togs make, will gather dust in the future while the family snap and holiday postcards will be looked at and talked about for years to come. Make pictures the way you want, for the reasons you want and if you win a pot or two along the way that's a bonus.

 Tony Middleton

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