Most of the past winter’s work has concentrated on the weapon components of the Strongpoint. The gun room of the north-facing 10.5cm K 331 (f) coastal defence gun casemate ‘K2’ has had a major refurbishment with the tongue and groove cladding installed in 1983 now revamped by adding skirting boards plus exposing several points for the remounting of telecommunications equipment. The gun itself has also received a complete repaint. The displays in this room have also been improved. Plus visitors can handle an original shell (inert!) and practice dropping an empty cartridge down the chute into the empty shell case room. The entrance defence room has also been refurbished and the very rare machine gun table has been repainted and the room has been enhanced with the addition of a wooden rack for holding ammunition boxes.
Work on the unique M19 mortar bunker has also been going well with the main thrust being the instalment of a replica of the actual 5cm Maschinengranatwerfer M19 weapon. This project was started in 1998 when the turret room, left shattered and back-filled after the removal of the weapon and its protective turret for scrap in 1953, was excavated. Work has continued since to rebuild the room and then to install a replica turret and now, finally the weapon itself.
Also several special M19 mortar specific ammunition crates labelled ‘Mun.19’ for holding 30 x 5cm Wgr.36 mortar bombs have been acquired (mostly through eBay!) and will put on display in the mortar’s ammunition room and the interpretation for the M19 has been greatly improved to bring better visitor understanding of how the weapon worked and operated.
The public are invited to visit the various bunkers at Strongpoint Corbiere on their first open date of the season, held on Liberation Day Monday 7th May. Admission is £3 for one bunker or £5 for both, with accompanied children free. Look for a special book deal on Occupation Reviews No. 35 & 37 which tell the stories of former M19 commander Engelbert Hoppe and K2 crew member Horst Hermann, normally £14.90 but now offered at £10 for both while stocks last.
Top image: Assembling the replica 5cm Maschinengranatwerfer M19 weapon