La Fortresse de Mimoyecques

Nord / Pas de Calais Guide

Towards the end of World War 2 (WW2) Germany developed a number of secret weapons hoping to alter the course of the war. Of these the V1 Fying bomb and the V2 rocket saw action against London and Belgium. Hitler's third vengeance weapon the V3 was a giant howitzer with multiple charges along the barrel. It was capable of firing shells over 90 km to London.
Railway tunnel
Today entry is through the collapsed side of the hill. The long railway tunnel was the entry for equipment used to build the V3 base as well as the exit for excavated chalk spoil. The spoil was painted with camouflage paint to hide the tunneling activity by thousands of slave workers conscripted by the Germans. Although Mimoyecques was damaged by bombing using the Barnes Wallis "Tallboy" bombs as well as being demolished by Army Engineers following Germany's surrender, though the excavated tunnels that remain are still impressive.
Mimoyecques has audio presentations throughout the tour.

The fort comprised a 600m. long railway tunnel that went straight through the mountain. Off this a number of crosscuts and inclined shafts were sunk to accommodate the 130m long gun barrels. There were five inclined shafts in all. Each shaft had five cannons aimed at London. The shafts emerged through a reinforced concrete slab at the top of the hill.V3 barrel
Each cannon had charges placed along the length of the barrel which fired just as the shell passed imparting more energy and speed to the shell.

The tunnel complex at Mimoyecques is one of two that were to be constructed. The second complex was stopped and efforts concentrated on the furthest advanced battery following bombing. Each battery of 25 guns was designed to send 300 shells per hour at London. It is thought that the system was not fully developed and that the shells became unstable at the muzzle velocities of 1100m/s. It was decided to continue with the project despite these reservations in order to draw Allied bombers away from other strategic targets while the technology was refined.
The Allied Intelligence Services discovered Mimoyecques and bombed it using "Tallboy" earthquake bombs, in late 1943 and again in July 1944. In an air raid the slave workers  were sent to the bottom levels. On the second major air raid, one bomb managed to penetrate one of the shafts and set up excessive ground movements causing an aquifer to be breached and flood the lower levels. These workers were drowned and are entombed there to this day. There is a memorial to them on the tour.
Mimoyecques never succeeded in firing shells at London. The Allies captured the base in the autumn of 1944. The complex was blown up by Army Engineers soon after the German surrender in May 1945.
The tour includes an example of the Barnes Wallis "Tallboy" bomb as well as one the shells from the guns.
There is also a memorial to Joseph Kennedy brother to the US President, who was killed while piloting one of the aircraft attacking the base.
Ticket

CONTACT ADDRESSES

Base V3 de Mimoyecques
Marquise
62250
Tel 00 33 3 21 87 10 34
Fax 00 33 3 21 83 33 10