Just east of the French town Calais lies a huge German Coastal battery with the name “Oldenburg”
This battery was part of the defence of the Strait of Dover like Battery Todt, Battery Lindemann and other heavy batteries in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. From these heavy batteries is battery Oldenburg the easternmost heavy battery.
This chain of batteries was built by the Germans in the French, Pas de Calais and by the British on the other side of the Strait of Dover as well. Both sides defended the Strait of Dover from invaders and ships, and bombed each other with their huge guns.
The guns used in these batteries came from railroad-guns or ship-guns. with calibres from 200 to 406 mm. They could hurl projectiles over the Strait of Dover into the borders of the enemy. Both armies on either side of the Strait of Dover had these weapons and the straight soon got nicknamed “hellfire corner”.
In German battery Oldenburg is called Stp. 18, M.K.B. Oldenburg. Stp 18 means Stützpunkt 18 which stands for Military base nr 18 and M.K.B. stands for Marine Küsten Batterie – Navy Coastal Battery.
The construction of battery Oldenburg started in July 1940 after the invasion of France and was tasked to support Operation Sea lion (Unternehmen Seelöwe), the invasion of England. The battery, part of the Atlantic Wall, was under the command of 2./MAA 244 in 1941. 2./MAA stand for 2nd Battery from the Marine Artillery section nr 244 (2. Batterie/ Marine Artillerieabteilung 244 in German). At first the guns were places in a open emplacement but somewhere during 1942 they were housed in two casemates. The two guns from battery Oldenburg originate from World War One. They are from Russian origin. The German army captured them near the city of Libau, Latvia in 1915 and transported them to Germany.
The Krupp company, well known for its guns during the First and Second World War, re-chambered the guns from 255mm to the German standard 240mm and equipped them with gun shields. They were able to fire a 150 kg shell to a distance of 27 -28 km. The guns from battery Oldenburg didn’t reach the English mainland as the guns of battery Todt did, but they could defend the eastern shipping route in the Strait of Dover.
Both Casemates are 35 meters long and 15 meters high above ground level. The western of the two Casemates, Turm West, is two storeys deep, while the eastern casemate, Turm East, is three storeys deep.
On the top floors there are multiple ammunition storage compartments. In the basement there are toilets and machinery facility rooms. Another staircase in the Turm East brings you to a second basement filled with rooms. This third floor is missing in the Turm West. The two casemates are situated 200 meters apart and are placed in a slight offset from each other to achieve a bigger spread with both guns.
In the vicinity of both Casemates there are personal bunkers, ammunition storage bunkers and a Fire control bunker. Behind the Turms are personnel barracks said to be used by Organisation Todt, and the battery has its own hospital bunker, which is combined with the Fire control. The personnel bunkers are Regelbau 621, 629 and there are four types VF.
The battery was defended by two Russian 7.62mm guns placed in the dunes, and three German field guns. There were numerous guns nests and grenade launcher positions.
As air defence there were four French anti aircraft guns, two English 4cm anti aircraft guns and a German 2cm flakvierling, a four barrelled gun. The battery was attacked by 4 engine bombers and defended itself, taking down 16 bombers, 6 of them were shot down by the battery defences.
After overcoming their objectives in Normandy the 3rd Canadian division stormed on the fortress of Calais in 1944. The guns from all coastal batteries pointed towards the sea and were no use to defend the batteries from inland attacks. On October the 1st in 1944 Battery Oldenburg surrendered to these Canadian forces.
Battery Oldenburg is also known as “Le Moulin Rouge”.
You will find Battery Oldenburg just east of the French city of Calais. It can be visited by walking around the east side of the former barrack compound.
You will see Both Turms from quite a distance.
Be careful if you want to enter the huge guns emplacements. They are open but keep in mind that safety comes first. Your cell phone for instance probably will not work below meters of concrete in the basement. A simple call for help can suddenly not be so simple after all.
The western Turm has suffered from a internal explosion which destroyed parts of the floor and some rooms. The eastern Turm is complete.
Beware of the natural defence of the Battery. The bushes around the bunkers and in the dunes are full of nasty thorns. We let out a lots of ai’s, auch-es and other foul words trying to get around the bunkers. To get this story clear; I do not even think the Germans had to use barbed wire to defend the battery, the bushes are defence enough.