The D-DAY Landings and the Battle of Normandy

General Richter's headquarters

Located beneath the Mémorial de Caen museum, this command post played a crucial role during the Occupation and the Battle of Normandy.

Located beneath the Mémorial de Caen museum, this command post played a crucial role during the Occupation and the Battle of Normandy. A new display presents the military aspects of the German occupation, as well as the history of the Atlantic Wall, from its construction to its role during the D-Day Landings.

The Caen Mémorial museum was inaugurated on 6 June 1988 after being built on top of an underground gallery which contained the command post of Generalmajor Wilhelm Richter, commander of the 716th German infantry division which guarded the coastal sector from Omaha to the mouth of the Orne. In 1943, the German commander decided to base his general headquarters in this former quarry, which had also been used as a firing range by the French Army.

A tunnel measuring 70 metres long and 3 metres tall was dug in the limestone rock. The Allies were aware of the existence of this structure through information provided by the French Resistance.

The transmission center

Buried telephone cables connected the position to each regimental CP and the Carpiquet aerodrome.

The bunker contained a radio transmission center and was equipped with a ventilation system, generator and water cistern. A team of secretaries, telephonists, cartographers and officers worked constantly beneath this thick limestone shell. A small garrison was in charge of defending the structure. Each of the three entrances on alternate sides was defended by a machine gun. Double-leaf armoured doors completed the defence system.

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The 716th ID and D-Day

On the plateau overlooking the quarry, a buried tank and minefields protected the immediate surroundings.

In the night of 5 to 6 June 1944, the general staff of the 716th ID was informed of unusual aerial activity and parachute drops to the east of the Orne and west of the Dives. In the small hours of the morning, the HQ staff received a stream of information from the CPs along the coast. This information had to be collected and analysed before reporting to the higher echelons. The long-awaited D-Day landings had finally taken place. This position was at the centre of the operations.

Richter reported the situation to General Marcks, commander of the 84th army corps headquartered in Saint-Lô. The following night, the general officers met to devise a strategy aimed at driving the Allied troops back to the sea, but the tank counter-attacks were repelled and the front line remained in the same place for several weeks. During the battle, the underground galleries were used as a CP and shelter for the troops. During the main offensives, they were turned into a makeshift hospital. The CP was finally abandoned on 23 June. Canadian soldiers took possession of the premises on 9 July.

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