The Merville Battery was a German gun site, where it was thought a battery of at least 150mm guns were located. This fired directly onto the beaches around Ouistreham, so potentially threatened the landings on Sword Beach. Lieutenant Colonel T.B.H.Otway's 9 Para was detailed to neutralise the battery, and had trained extensively in England on a model of the battery site constructed in the Berkshire countryside. On D Day, Otway and his men were scattered far and wide by the drop, and with a strength of under 110 men at the RV point, and only one machinegun and a handful of bangalore torpedoes to blow the wire, and explosive for the guns, he decided to attack anyway.

Leading his men in, Otway called out 'Get in! Get in!'. The position was taken, the guns much smaller calibre than had been expected (for many years it was thought they were 75mms, but now it is accepted they were 100mm Czech guns) had largely been destroyed by the pre-D Day bombing, and Otway had lost 1 officer killed, 4 wounded, and 65 men killed, wounded and missing. This accounted for most of his men. As they began to come under shell fire, a pigeon was sent advising the battery was out of action (Otway's Naval radio link had never arrived at the RV), and Otway led his men off to the Eastern Flank positions.

As shells fell on Sword Beach on 6th June, it was thought by the High Command, who had not received Otway's message by pigeon, that the Merville Battery was still in action. No 3 Commando Royal Marines were therefore detailed to attack the battery site on 7th June. Two troops led by Major J.B.V.Pooley attacked the battery, now back in German hands after some of the personnel had hidden from Otway's men in tunnels beneath the site. The site was retaken, by the Commandos came under attack from Panzer Grenadiers and SP Guns, Major Pooley being killed. They therefore withdrew to Le Plain. The battery remained in German hands until August 1944, but was never operational again.

Today this is the site of the Merville Battery Museum. Part of the site is preserved, and one of the bunkers tells the story of the fighting here in 1944.



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Memorial to Lt-Col T.B.H.Otway DSO

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No 1 Gun Bunker - now the museum.

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Looking inside No 2 Bunker


Return to Merville, and turn right to take you back to the D223. Turn right and follow the D223 to Breville. In Breville make for the church and park outside - Stop 8.

ŠPAUL REED 2002-2006

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