To the north of Battery Oldenburg lies Battery Waldam, named after the village Waldam nearby. Both batteries are situated north of the french city Calais.
Unlike Battery Oldenburg, Battery Waldam lacks the huge casemates of it’s neighbour, but has some very unique features of it’s own.
Invasion of France
The coastal battery started out as a French coastal defence battery. After the invasion of France by Germany it changed ownership.
In 1941 -1942 the battery had open gun emplacements, later on it was decided to fortify the battery with the construction of bunkers and pillboxes.
The guns were placed inside bunkers, they constructed personnel bunkers, ammunition storages, a kitchen, sanitary building, medical facilities and a fire control bunker on the perimeter. It housed a garrison with 6 officers, 36 subordinate officers and 200 soldiers.
This stretch of land around Calais was so well defended with numerous batteries and observation post that it was nicknamed Hellfire Corner.
The photo above is taken from the roof of the kitchen, you see all kinds of bunkers here from ammunition storage, the M270 regelbau casemate, the rotating bunker (Drehturm in German) and the Fire control bunker.
Marine Artillery Section 244
Battery Waldam was part of the Marine Artillery Section 244 like Oldenburg.
It was also named “Coastal battery M1” for it was the first battery of Marine Artillery Section 244 and is situated about 300 meter form the beach. Its armament in 1941 consisted of three 17 cm SL L/40 ship guns in open emplacements. After the Kriegsmarine took over the battery they placed three 15 cm SK C/28 guns. At first in open emplacements later on two were placed in M270 regelbau type casemates and one in a unique experimental concrete cupola, a SK Drehturm which could pivot 360°.
Besides the 15cm guns they places one 7,62 cm gun, one 7,5cm gun, one 2,5cm anti tank gun, 7 FLAK guns of different calibre, a searchlight and 10 machineguns for protection.
Note: SK stands for SchnelladeKanone or quick loading cannon.
The SK Drehturm – The Rotating Casemate
The unique rotating bunker in Waldam was to solve the problem of limited arcs of fire which troubled static gun emplacements. Research to solve the problem started in 1943 in France and a year later a prototype was build at the Pioneerpark in Gennervillers. Marine Küsten Batterie Waldam or MKB Waldam was selected to house the first, and only, operational model.
To house the rotating cupola, weighing a massive 750 tons, they installed a rotating mechanism which was used to turn the big guns on the French battleship Provence.
The British high command feared the French Fleet would fall into the hands of the German army after France surrendered on 22th of June 1940. Battleship Provence was hit by the British fleet in Mers El Kébir and settled on the bottom of the harbour.
After being raised she was transferred to Toulon. The German army occupied the city shortly after and the French scuttled the Provence in the Harbour of Toulon and for the second time she settled herself on the bottom of a Harbour. This gave the Germans access to the gun rotating mechanism of the Battleship Provence. The mechanism could hold up to 800 tons of weight and fitted the requirements to build a casemate with a rotating turret.
3rd Canadian infantry division
In 1944 the 3rd Canadian infantry division was ordered to clear out the coastal defence in the Strait of Dover. From the beaches of Normandy they moved north into France and Belgium. On 30 September 1944 they reached Battery Waldam.
This is probably why the Drehturm still points away from the sea and into the land. It is locked in its last position, ready for the 3rd Canadian Division.
The Fire control bunker or Leitstand
Another unique building from Battery Waldam is the fire control bunker which can be found next to the rotating casemate. It has three levels and multiple observation heights. The entrance to the second level used to be on the outside of the building, but is missing today.
Some of the bunkers on the perimeter still carry names that the personnel gave them, as can be seen on the photo below. In total there are 5 ammunition bunkers on the site, most of them are positioned between the two big M270 casemates.
Visit Battery Waldam
Battery Waldam is situated on a natural reserve today, and is a bird hunting ground. Beware of the hunting season before you enter, you do not want to get an accident while exploring history. The garage building is used by the hunters these days, we walked straight by them, but if you doubt if you out of the hunting season or not we suggest you ask them.
The area is overgrown with thorn brushes, really nasty stuff. Take care you don’t rip your clothes apart or worse. The floors inside of the two M270 bunkers and the Drehturm are blown up, mind your step while exploring the place.