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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Normandy 2011 - Day Eight 2nd April

The journey home.

After a quick tidy round (which proved to be insufficient to the owners!) we headed off for Calais. Once again we used the toll roads which cost us €20 per car.  We planned to stop off at La Coupole near to St Omer, a wartime V2 Launch Bunker, now a museum.
La Coupole
It did not disappoint, despite the €9 entrance charge. It was recommended that we needed at least 2.5 hours to look around it properly, but we had a little over 1hr to spare before we needed to head on to Calais to catch our ferry.
Greg, Dave, James & Bruce on their way to the entrance tunnel.
You start your tour at the bottom level of a quarry, entering tunnels cut into the mountainside by slave labourers 70 years ago. Tunnels off to each side contain displays telling the story of the build up to war, but we had to press on.
Bruce & Dave now deep inside the mountain
At the end of the tunnel a modern lift takes you up into the dome. Here you learn a mixture of how the Germans developed liquid fuel rockets (and the Vengeance weapons in particular) as well as how they did all this using slave labour and foreign nationals.
Highly detailed model showing how the site was intended to be used. Look at the scale thickness of the dome (5m thick)
The displays were modern and thought provoking, though sadly you are not permitted outside to view the giant concrete dome close up.
Dave examines a preserved V2 rocket motor
Thankfully, Ultra intercepts alerted the allies to what was going on here and a raid by 617 Sqn. (Dambusters) using 12,000lb Tallboy bombs, undermined the dome and knocked it out of alignment so it could no longer be used as a V2 Launching site.
Some of those who suffered in the construction of La Coupole
Finally after our hour visit we were off to catch the 15:40 ferry home. Another year over, another battlefield visited and better understood. Now to start planning for next year...............

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