The Fortress of Mimoyecques is the modern name for a Second World War underground military complex built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944. It was intended to house a battery of V-3 cannons aimed at London, 165 kilometres away. Originally codenamed Wiese ('Meadow') or Bauvorhaben 711 ('Construction Project 711'), it is located in the commune of Landrethun-le-Nord in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, near the hamlet of Mimoyecques. It was constructed by a mostly German workforce recruited from major engineering and mining concerns, augmented by prisoner-of-war slave labour.
The complex consists of a network of tunnels dug under a chalk hill, linked to five inclined shafts in which 25 V-3 guns would have been installed, all targeted on London. The guns would have been able to fire ten dart-like explosive projectiles a minute – 600 rounds every hour – into the British capital. The Allies knew nothing about the V-3 but identified the site as a possible launching base for V-2 ballistic missiles, based on reconnaissance photographs and fragmentary intelligence from French sources.
Mimoyecques was targeted for intensive bombardment by the Allied air forces from late 1943 onwards. Construction work was seriously disrupted, forcing the Germans to abandon work on part of the complex. The rest was partly destroyed on 6 July 1944 by No. 617 Squadron RAF, who used ground-penetrating 5,400-kilogram (12,000 lb) 'Tallboy' earthquake bombs to collapse tunnels and shafts, entombing hundreds of slave workers underground.
The Germans halted construction work at Mimoyecques as the Allies advanced up the coast following the Normandy landings. It fell to the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division on 5 September 1944 without resistance, a few days after the Germans withdrew from the area.
The complex was partly demolished just after the war on Churchill's direct orders (and to the great annoyance of the French, who were not consulted), as it was still seen as a threat to the United Kingdom. It was later reopened by private owners, first in 1969 to serve as a mushroom farm and subsequently as a museum in 1984. A nature conservation organisation acquired the Fortress of Mimoyecques in 2010, and La Coupole (a museum near Saint-Omer housing a former V-2 rocket base) took over its management. It continues to be open to the public as a vast underground museum complex.References:
The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.
British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.
Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.
Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.
On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.