Blockhaus d'Éperlecques

Watten, France

The Blockhaus d'Éperlecques is a Second World War bunker, now part of a museum, only some 14.4 kilometers north-northwest from the more developed La Coupole V-2 launch facility, in the same general area.

The bunker, built by Nazi Germany under the codename Kraftwerk Nord West (Powerplant Northwest) between March 1943 and July 1944, was originally intended to be a launching facility for the V-2 (A-4) ballistic missile. It was designed to accommodate over 100 missiles at a time and to launch up to 36 daily.

The facility would have incorporated a liquid oxygen factory and a bomb-proof train station to allow missiles and supplies to be delivered from production facilities in Germany. It was constructed using the labour of thousands of prisoners of war and forcibly conscripted workers used as slave labourers.

The bunker was never completed as a result of the repeated bombing by the British and United States air forces as part of Operation Crossbow against the German V-weapons programme. The attacks caused substantial damage and rendered the bunker unusable for its original purpose. Part of the bunker was subsequently completed for use as a liquid oxygen factory. It was captured by Allied forces at the start of September 1944, though its true purpose was not discovered by the Allies until after the war. V-2s were instead launched from Meillerwagen-based mobile batteries which were far less vulnerable to aerial attacks.

Today, the bunker is preserved as part of a privately owned museum that presents the history of the site and the German V-weapons programme.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Watten, France
See all sites in Watten

Details

Founded: 1943
Category: Museums in France

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

James Crankshaw (3 months ago)
This place is simply amazing and should be on the list for anyone interested in WW2 or engineering. I like both so, for me, this is a fabulous place to visit. Firstly it’s really well laid out and managed. Really well. The paths are well marked and maintained. There are also excellent audio narrations at certain points which are certainly worth listening too. On the way to the main exhibit (a simply enormous WW2 bunker) there are lots of exhibits from artillery pieces to train carriages, bombs, Radar and even a submarine. And then there is the bunker itself which was built to be a V2 launch site but got bombed by the Allies so never actually was used. Half is in pristine condition and the other half is derelict and shows clearly the effect of the bombs. It is really really impressive. You can also go inside the pristine portion and see the scale of what was being built. This portion was meant to be an oxygen production site to be used as fuel for the V2. You should go. Just go.
Laurence Relton (4 months ago)
Fascinating, engaging. The whole family loved the experience. Very well organised. You can visit at your own pace. Thoroughly recommended. ?
Joris Nieuwint (4 months ago)
The biggest bunker I’ve ever seen. The museum is very interesting, all information is available in multiple languages and there is a lot to see! A must see and worth a detour.
Jon Page (5 months ago)
What a place. and only a short hop from the Ferry at Calais. I was thoroughly amazed by this tour, not just because of the excellent and professional layout of the exhibits, and the time they clearly put into maintaining the exhibits, but also because they have gone to great lengths to ensure the 'human' story is being told. It's quite harrowing the story of the workers used during this period to construct such things as this bunker, but the team here have done a brilliant job ensuring that the story is being heard and acknowledged. The Bunker for the V2 rockets is just insane! I had no idea. I'm very interested in War history, and this blew me away. We toured all the way round the bunker and inside. For anyone interested in this period of history, the stories behind it's construction, how Britain's RAF combated the incoming rockets, and it's eventual destruction, you'll spend your 10 euros very wisely. Oh, very helpful motorcycle area outfront with a locker system to lock helmets away. So handy.
Edmond Bourke (14 months ago)
You have to visit the place to see and feel the enormous amount of work that went into the construction of the building. With all WW2 artifacts, information boards, audio and video clips you get a real feeling of the horror's of war. Hot and cold drinks available. Toilets
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.

Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.

Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.

The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.