- A French-British Association.
April-June 1982 : the renovation of casemate n°1 (type H 611) for the opening of the museum on 5th june 1983
For three months, 10 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, worked on the renovation project of casemate n°1 of the Merville battery.
These works were made possible through the joint action of Airborne Assault Normandy, represented by General Nigel Poett and M. Levasseur, the Mayor of Merville-Franceville.
The aim of this Association, with Lieutenant General Sir Michael Gray, Chairman of Airborne Assault Normandy, was to provide a home for the future Merville battery Museum and to preserve the memory of the 9th Battalion the Parachute Regiment.
The villagers of Merville these days take great care to ensure that the exploits of the men who fought here will never be forgotten and that future generations will recognise the sacrifices they made for our liberty. Meanwhile, there is never a 6th June when the remaining veterans do not come to pay homage to their brothers in arms who fell in Normandy.
The Merville battery is not like other museums. Being both a place of contemplation and a history lesson, this site draws on its authenticity and its evocative qualities of one of the epics of the Allied landings.
- A reconstitued gun chamber
Casemate n°1, type H611, has been used to house a 100mm field gun similar to that which was here in 1944.
This 100mm light howitzer housed in its casemate is of Czech origin. It is a leichte Feldhaubitze 14/19 (t). (the FH 14/19 [t])
Made by Skoda, this model was widespread in the Czech Army. The German Army redeployed it widely in its artillery units.
It was indeed this type of gun that Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway’s men would find here in the early morning of the 6th June 1944 after the assault, and not the expected heavier 155mm gun. It mattered not, the guns of the Merville battery needed to be silenced at all costs.
On entering the Merville battery site you will be able to see how the type H611 concrete casemate n°1 still appears threatening, camouflaged and “on guard” with its three fellow casemates.
You will also be able to see the whole of this battery site, whose guns would be silenced, and hence understand the difficult D Day mission that had been given to Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway’s 9th Battalion…
- The eastern door to the battle of Normandy
The Eastern flank of the fighting on 6th June 1944 the Merville battery and museum form the Eastern portal to the battle of Normandy. Together they comprise a “must visit” place which enables understanding of what really happened at dawn on the longest day. As you begin your journey into the theatre of operation Overlord from the East, at the Merville battery you will discover the key points of what was the shield against German counter-attacks from the East which would have threatened the Allied bridgehead.
The story of the 9th Battalion will take you into the fierce fighting that followed D Day. The 9th Battalion will take you to Sallenelles, Amfréville, Le Plain, Bréville, Varaville, the Château Saint-Côme and Le Mesnil,… for Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway and his paratroops during that intense fighting, locked the door to the Allied invasion beaches.
- The faithful veterans of the Merville battery
There are strong links between the men of the 9th Battalion. Equally strong are their links with the Merville battery, their initial objective on the night of 5th/6th June 1944. A vital objective for which they had trained so long and hard in England, and rehearsed on a life-size replica (that had been created in a very short time).
As the years have passed, a very special relationship has developed with the village of Merville-Franceville. It is built on the powerful friendship that comes only from deep in the human soul.
- The evolution of the museum has started
There will be more museum space, therefore better preservation of history.