How an unknown German artillery battery could shell Omaha Beach until three days after D-Day.
On D-Day,the American Rangers, specially trained elite soldiers, captured in a spectacular way Pointe du Hoc, a cliff of over 30 metres high between Omaha Beach and Utah Beach.Pointe du Hoc had been designated as one of the prime targets for the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944 by the Supreme Commander Dwight D.Eisenhower. According to allied intelligence services, there were six 155mm howitzers, but when the Rangers took the Pointe du Hoc it turned out that the German artillery was not present. Still Omaha Beach and to a lesser extent Utah Beach, were shelled for days by enemy artillery fire. The American invaders initially had no idea where the fire came from.
On a rainy day in January, 2004, British amateur historian Gary Sterne was searching for a good location near the village of Grandcamp-Maisy in order to start a museum. Sterne is himself an avid collector of military relics from the Second World War. He already possessed a large collection of American and German military stuff that all had to do with D-Day. He had among other things an unofficial map of the area of Omaha Beach. He had found the map in a crate in which was an American uniform he had bought. On the map, that was not very interesting generally, a point was marked with the words "area of high resistance". During his trip in Normandy, Sterne ran into the location that was marked on the map. He found concrete platforms but he had no idea what they were. On further investigation they turned out to be roofs of bunkers.
Gary Sterne didn't know exactly what he had discovered but he knew that it was a large complex because around the bunkers lay an undeveloped, haggard and overgrown area of at least 15 acres. In the months following his discovery he started to buy the ground that had no fewer than 27 different owners. He bought it piece by piece and in 2006 he had the buildings and trenches cleared from bushes and earth. It turned out that Gary Sterne had discovered the reasonably well conserved remains of the German Widerstandsnester 83 and 84, or WN83 and WN 84. They were also known as La Martiniere and Les Perruques after the small roads where the WNs were located. The two "resistance nests" would be known to the Americans as the Maisy Battery and to the French as Batterie de Maisy.
Gary Sterne gained recognition from the international press for rediscovering the historically very interesting location but because WN 83 and WN 84 had remained hidden for all those years the complex was quite unknown. Nevertheless, Sterne opened the Maisy Battery in 2007 for the public. In that year the place received international attention because German 150 mm howitzers, which had been reused after the war by the Polish and Russian armies, were placed on the location in 2008 but after this the attention quickly diminished.