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German Coastal Defenses
Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 15, June 15, 1943
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Special Series publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



a. Waasenaar Emplacement

Assembled here is information concerning known types of German machine-gun emplacements, which vary in size and type to fit local terrain conditions. In figure 38 is illustrated a concrete type that has been installed at intervals of about 55 yards on the sand dunes of the Waasenaar district of Holland.

Figure 38.—Waasenaar emplacement.

b. Cantilever Type

A type of reinforced concrete emplacement, believed to house an antitank gun, light machine guns, small arms, or combinations of these weapons, is shown in figure 39. It will be noted that the embrasure permits a wide field of fire. Also noteworthy is the bonding of the concrete apron wall into the face of the cliff.

Figure 39.—Cantilever emplacement.

c. Underground Type

Another type of concrete emplacement is depicted in figure 40. Its front wall is curved and slotted with loopholes, the arrangement of which is not known. The internal measurements shown are estimated. The concrete ranges in thickness from 2 feet 7 inches to 3 feet 3 inches. This type is covered with earth to a depth of about 40 inches. In addition to the accommodations in the emplacement, members of the crew have shelters 15 feet away.

Figure 40.—Underground emplacement.

d. Open Brick Type

An emplacement made of brickwork and concrete, roofless, is typical in the Middlekerke-Westende area of Belgium (fig. 41). The foundation and steps are of concrete. A brick retaining wall, about 12 inches thick and 4 or 5 feet high, holds the soil.

Figure 41.—Open brick emplacement.

e. Emplacement for Two Machine Guns

A type of emplacement for two machine guns is illustrated in figure 42. It has a third embrasure in which a third weapon can be mounted to cover the entrance. Twelve men can be accommodated in this structure. The machine guns are mounted in the end walls. This type of emplacement is usually built into the side of a hill to make it possible for the machine guns to cover the slopes of both flanks. A common type in Germany's West Wall, this emplacement has also been adapted to the defenses of the coasts of occupied countries.

Figure 42.—Emplacement for two machine guns.

f. Cliff Pillbox

The pillbox shown in figure 43 has two embrasures and, like many other examples of German fortifications, is built into the side of a cliff, hill, sand dune, or sea wall. The depth of the earth covering on the roof of the example in the illustration is unknown.

Figure 43.—Cliff pillbox.

g. Promenade Types

Two types of machine-gun emplacements built into the sea-wall promenades that are so common along the coasts of the Low Countries and France are shown in figures 44 and 45. The one in figure 45 abuts from the promenade to make enfilading fire possible. Both types are entered through manholes in the promenade.

Figure 44.—Promenade emplacement.

Figure 45.—Promenade emplacement, designed for enfilading fire.

h. Roofless Pillboxes

A number of roofless pillboxes, like that illustrated in figure 46, have also been observed.

Figure 46.—Roofless pillbox.

i. Infantry Position

Along the promenade between Ostend and Mariakerke in Belgium, the Germans have installed infantry firing positions, as shown in figure 47, at intervals varying from 55 to 110 yards. The size or capacity of each unit is unknown. These positions constitute the first line of defense at this point. They have been dug out of the dike and have been reinforced with concrete. They include sites for automatic weapons as well as for riflemen. Loopholes have been cut into the stone wall of the promenade. Platforms have been installed to receive mounts for machine guns and automatic weapons of from 20 to 35 mm, and tables of firing data, including points of gun elevation and zones of fire, have been posted in each position. These fortifications are entered by communication trenches.

Figure 47.—Infantry position built into promenade.

One defect of these positions is that they are flooded every time a storm whips in a high sea. The water pours through loopholes, communication trenches, and other openings. The personnel who man these defenses are quartered in the hotels bordering the sea front. Civilians have been evacuated from all the hotels and houses along the dike and adjacent thoroughfares.

j. Flak Positions

(1) Towers.—Flak or antiaircraft towers have been constructed in many coastal parts of the occupied territories. Their construction varies from light towers, made mainly of wood, to solid concrete structures.

The light towers are common along the coast line. In height, they range from 65 to 82 feet, and it is believed they usually mount 20-mm (0.79-inch) guns. The main supports consist of four poles 59 to 74 feet high, and in diameter 12 to 14 inches at the bottom and 6 to 7 inches at the top. Each of these supports is set into concrete blocks that are 6 1/2 feet square and 6 1/2 to 12 feet deep. At the base, iron uprights reinforce the poles, which are also strengthened higher up by bolted crosspieces. At the top of the tower formed by these poles are two platforms, the upper one having a 7-inch wall, made of 1-inch planking filled in with brick and sand. This wall is 39 inches high. The lower platform is open at the sides and is used for munitions storage.

A portable type of light tower is also reported. It is 26 feet high and made with 0.8-inch steel tubes. It is believed that the tubes are cut to a standard pattern and are issued to antiaircraft units as required.

In figure 48 is shown a type of concrete flak tower, with an interior munitions chamber and burster slabs to prevent floor rupture or the overturning of the structure by delayed-action projectiles. A concrete shelter for gun crews is shown between the flak towers.

Figure 48.—Flak tower.

(2) Elevator flak position.—A novel type of position seen along the Atlantic coast is the disappearing 20-mm flak battery mounted on an elevator. (See fig. 49.)

Figure 49.—Elevator flak position.

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