German Defences

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

The German defences facing the Hussars and their infantry counterparts The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Canadian Scottish, and the Royal Regina Rifles, on Juno beach were impressive to say the least. In fact, Juno Beach was the most heavily defended of all of the Anglo Canadian beaches. The area encompassed by NAN GREEN, and MIKE RED sectors (approximately 3500 metres wide) contained more than 1800 obstacles of various types. The majority of the pictures of the German defences shown here are courtesy of Richard Drew and come from his terrific website http://www.atlantikwall.co.uk


The defences on NAN GREEN were anchored on the West end by a powerful 88 mm antitank gun in a massive type R669 concrete bunker. The walls and roof of this imposing structure were constructed of reinforced concrete 7 to 9 feet thick. The gun was positioned to fire East along the beach and could wreak havoc among B Squadron’s tanks and the Regina Rifles as they landed. As we will see later it was singled out for special attention during the landings. In addition to this emplacement, NAN GREEN was covered by a 50 mm antitank gun in an open concrete emplacement mounted beside the river Suelles about 100 metres to the rear of the 88mm bunker. This gun was able to fire both East or West and could cover both Hussar beaches. A second Type R669 bunker with a French 75mm field gun was located on the East end of the beach positioned to fire West. This bunker was very well disguised as a house. Situated just South and East of this position was a large Type R663 concrete machine gun bunker covering the Eastern and rearward approaches. Scattered between these guns along the sea wall were 8 “Tobruk bunkers” (concrete machine gun emplacements) and 2 mortars.

Views of the 88mm Anti-tank gun guarding NAN GREEN note the damage in pictures 2 and 3

Before and after pictures of the 50mm Anti-tank position at the harbour mouth

NAN GREEN looking East and the 75mm bunker disguised as a house


MIKE beach was anchored on the East by another massive bunker known in German as a Doppelshartenstandt (Double Hard Stand). It’s walls and roof were reinforced concrete 4-5 feet thick with 8-foot buttresses on each corner. It was armed a 50mm antitank gun and built with openings allowing it to cover both MIKE RED and NAN GREEN. The eastern end of MIKE RED was covered by another 50mm antitank gun in an open concrete ring stand and a concrete bunker mounting a heavy machine gun. Between these two points were two positions for 75mm field guns. The more forward of these was encased in another massive Type R612 bunker with the concrete walls and roof 6-7 feet thick. This was in turn protected by a 10-foot-high sand “glacis”. This bunker was situated in such a way as to only be able to fire West along the beach. The second 75mm position was another concrete ring stand which allowed the gun to fire either East or West as required. Centrally located along the high tide line was a modified Tobruk mounting an obsolete French FT17 tank turret and machine gun. As with Nan Green a further 7 Tobruks mounting machine guns were interspersed among these larger emplacements.

50mm anti-tank "Doppelshartenstandt" at the Eastern harbour mouth was both impressive and dangerous

The Western flank was covered by a massive machine gun bunker and a 50mm anti-tank gun in an open "ring stand" mount both were supported by a Tobruk sited for all round defence.

The 75mm R612 casement could only fire West on Mike Red and could not be brought to bear on the 1st Hussars

During the battle for Normandy the 1st Hussars encountered a number of obsolete French FT 17s re purposed by the Germans. On MIKE RED this turret was a Tobruk Machine gun bunker

The 1st Hussars eliminated numerous Tobruk Machine gun emplacements on D-Day

50mm and an 80mm tobruks and their mortars


In front of the guns covering the beach all the way to the low waterline was a vast array of thousands of anti-ship and anti-tank obstacles of various types along with generous quantities of barbed wire and mines. Some of these were designed to sink or stop landing craft. Most typical of these were wooden beams either slanted like a ramp and reinforced (Hemmbalken) or single stakes (Hochpfähle). These were usually topped with mines or artillery shells.

Another less frequent but very effective obstacle against both landing craft and vehicles was the Belgian Gate. Weighing over 1 ton they were constructed from steel and very study.

Another very common duel purpose barrier was known as the Czech hedgehogs (Tschechenigel) Beyond the beaches were numerous minefields

Numerous minefields and barbed wire barricades were a serious concern


24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram