Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Belgian Gates

Many will have seen the above in various small museums in Normandy. Known colloquially as 'Belgium Gates' they were used prior to D Day as beach obstacles along the Normandy coastline. However the original purpose of these large metal structures was as part an anti-tank defence line erected by the Belgians in 1940 to cover an area called the Gembloux Gap. It supposedly covered a gap between a number of water lines south of Wavre towards Namur on the Meuse.
The photo above purports to show a completed line of Cointet Gates (the correct name) south of Wavre. they were to form a continuous line and once in position riveted together and could not be moved by armoured vehicles. In the original plan there were to be up to 75,000 of these gates together with 'rail fields'. All to be covered with fire from anti-tank weapons and bunkered machine gun positions, with interlocking fields of fire. Unfortunately by May 1940 the construction had not been completed and there were many gaps in the line. Suffice to say German armour drove through the gaps!!

Above a drawing of a Cointet Gate with dimensions

German Engineers removing Gates across a road in southern Belgium. Some of the Gates would later be transported to the beaches of Normandy

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ranger Memorial - Pointe Du Hoc - Normandy

GBG Member Bob Hilton has just returned from a tour of Normandy and reports: It came as pleasant surprise to realise you can now get right up to the bunker with the Ranger Memorial on it. Even better you can walk around the front of the bunker and get a fantastic view along both sides of the Pointe.

I cannot recall ever being able to access the Pointe myself in over 20 years of guiding in Normandy. This has become possible due to a hugh investment by the American Battle Monuments Commission in stablising the cliff face on which the Memorial stands.