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©2004-2019 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.


Latest page update: 5 January 2019


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BERNHARD INSTALLATION BE-4 AT LA PERNELLE (France, dept. 50)

Map

The village of La Pernelle is located about 20 km due east of the port of Cherbourg. The Bernhard site is at a relatively high point (108 m ASL), with a completely unobstructed view of the Bay of the Seine and the English Channel. Utah Beach is app. 23 km (15 mi) to the southeast. It is only about 130 km (≈80 mi) south of Portsmouth/England. There were two cannon batteries nearby (ref. 108): "La Pernelle I" (400-500 m to the northeast) and "La Pernelle II" (ca. 800 m to the southwest). There was a command post of Heeresküstenartillerie Regiment 1261 (HKAR; coastal artillery regiment) near the church. There were also two radar stations nearby.

Construction of this installation started in 1941 (ref. 128). The French resistance reported that this Bernhard station rotated once a minute (ref. 91), instead of the standard twice a minute. The antenna structure of this station is reported as having grey-black camouflage colors (ref. 128).

The French resistance in February attempted acts of sabotage in February of 1943 (ref. 128). For British 1944 aerial reconnaissance photos of this Bernhard station (in preparation for Operation Overlord - the invasion of France): see ref. 109. The Germans abandoned this site in June of 1944, shortly after the invasion.

Berhard station

Fig. 57: Luftnachrichten map refers to La Pernelle as "Be-4"

(source: large map - ref. 90A; map inset - ref. 90B, used with permission)

Note that the same Ln-Gerätestellungen map incorrectly places the longwave hyperbolic beacon "Erika-2" near Sainte-Mère-Eglise (about 23 km south of La Pernelle), instead of near Saint-Pierre-Eglise (about 9 km northwest of La Pernelle)...

Berhard station

Fig. 58: RAF low-altitude oblique photo of La Pernelle - taken off shore, over the surf (31 March 1943)

("Bernhard" installation vaguely visible on the horizon; source: ref. 174J)

In an RAF aerial photo of 4 August 1941 (see Fig. 59), the La Pernelle site is identified as an "area of suspicious activity". At that time, no "Bernhard" construction is visible. In photos from early October 1941, a large white circular patch is noted, as well the construction of a cable trench and several huts. Construction appears to have been interrupted from late-October 1941 to mid-April 1942, at which time the site is fenced in. The monitoring mast is discovered in photos of mid-September 1942. Ref. 172A.

Berhard station

Fig. 59: RAF aerial photo of the La Pernelle site, area of "suspicious activity" before "Bernhard" construction (4 Aug 1941)

(the area is marked by the white half circle; source: ref. 172A)

Bernhard station

Fig. 60: Satellite image of the La Pernelle site (ca. 2014)

(source: geoportal.gouv.fr)

Berhard station

Fig. 61: Low-altitude oblique RAF aerial photo of the La Pernelle site, looking northwest (3 March 1943)

(source: ref. 172A; cropped photo used in ref. 118; photo by G.R. Crankenthorp)

Berhard station

Fig. 62: RAF aerial photo, "Bernhard" station and alleged position of the monitoring mast marked by circles (22 Dec 1942)

(source aerial photo: ref. 172A)

Late 1942, there was a "Würzburg-Riese" radar (installation number 210) with its large parabolic dish antenna (7.52 m diameter, ≈25 ft), a "Freya" radar (number 20), and a regular Würzburg radar (number 210) with its smaller dish antenna (3 m, ≈10 ft). Ref. 219. It is unclear whether they were operated by the Luftwaffe or the Kriegsmarine (and therefore had Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine model designators). Later on, there was a "Würzburg-Riese" radar (Kriegsmarine designator FuMO 214) operated by the 2nd Marine Funkmeß Abteilung and a Mammut G III (FuMO 51) radar with its large antenna array (WxH = 25x10 m, ≈80x33 ft). Late 1942, the latter was marked as planned, but not yet built. Ref. 128, 206.

Berhard station

Fig. 63: Aerial photo of the La Pernelle area - overlaid with the location of Be-7, radars and canon batteries

(photo dated 25 July 1946)

Berhard station

Fig. 64: The La Pernelle station

(source: ref. 107)

Berhard station

Fig. 65: Oblique views: looking towards southwest (left) & southeast (right), 1944)

(source: left image NARA ( = US government = no ©), right image p. 4.09 in ref. 13)

A 3D (stereoscopic) image of the La Pernelle site (based on the right-hand image above) is here.

Berhard station

Fig. 66: Overhead views: of the Bernhard site at La Pernelle

(left image: presumably 1944, source unknown; right image: source unknown)

Berhard station

Fig. 67: Aerial photo of the La Pernelle site - many bomb craters in the area

(dated 25 July 1946; source: geoportal.gouv.fr; full size photo C1110-0091_1947_F1110-1310_0130)

The aerial photo below has been overlaid with map information from May 1944. It shows that the installation was surrounded by barbed wire fences (small yellow x's) and was protected by a FLAK-gun. The electrical power generator was located just across the road to the east of the Bernhard station. Local terrain height is 108 m.

Berhard station

Fig. 68: Aerial photo of the La Pernelle site (25 July 1946) - overlaid with map from May 1944

(photo source: geoportal.gouv.fr; full size photo C1110-0091_1947_F1110-1310_0130; map source: ref. 108)


Berhard station

Fig. 69: The damaged Bernhard station at La Pernelle

("Captured Nazi radar equipment somewhere in France, 6 July 1944", source: US government = no copyright)

Berhard station

Fig. 70: Views of the damaged and dismantled Bernhard - for some reason, the four corner sheds are still intact

(sources: unknown; right image presumably 1946)


1946 film clip of the German "radar" at La Pernelle

(Bernhard part begins 20 sec after start of clip; source: Cinémathèque de Normandie)


Berhard station

Fig. 71: Aerial photo of the La Pernelle site - 22-April-1955

(source: geoportal.gouv.fr; full-size photo C1110-0081_1955_F1110-1310_0098)

Berhard station

Fig. 72: The concrete ring

(source: ©2013 J. Flaherty atlantikwall.org.uk; used with permission)

Berhard station

Fig. 73: The concrete ring

(source: ©2013 J. Flaherty atlantikwall.org.uk; used with permission)

Berhard station

Fig. 74: Remnant of the round building at the center of the ring - two of the four I-beam corner posts visible

(source: ©2013 J. Flaherty atlantikwall.org.uk; used with permission)

The photo below shows a concrete sidewall at the entrance to the above round structure. It has three slots in it. Their function is unclear. The bottom slot appears to have part of a wooden board stuck in it. It is unclear if the sidewall on the opposite side of the entrance also has such slots (that section of the sidewall appears to be missing).

Berhard station

Fig. 75: Slots in the concrete side wall on the right-hand side of the entrance to the round building

(©2011 bunkerpictures.nl; used with permission)

Berhard station

Fig. 76: Top of the concrete ring

(©2011 bunkerpictures.nl; used with permission)

The photo below shows a rectangular concrete slab against the south side of the concrete ring. It corresponds to the rectangular protrusion in the top-view diagram below. Its purpose is unclear. There is an opening in the concrete ring on the east side, next to the steps that lead down to the round building. The building with the electrical generator was across the street from this side of the ring, see the aerial photo with map overlay in Fig. 68 above.

Berhard station

Fig. 77: Rectangular concrete slab on the south side of the concrete ring

(©2011 bunkerpictures.nl; used with permission)

Berhard station

Fig. 78: Top view and cross sectional drawings

(source: figure 17 and 18 in ref. 108)

Berhard station

Fig. 79: Two plaques near the Bernhard ring at La Pernelle

(©2011 bunkerpictures.nl; used with permission)

There are two plaques near the Bernhard ring, see photos above. They make several claims - several of which are "questionable":

  • This "radar" installation was built late 1941 (this appears to be rather early; no Be-stations were built before late 1941. Be-2 was built in 1942).
  • The antenna measured 25x25 m and weighed 75 tons (the antenna system was actually closer to 35 m wide; also, the weight is generally listed as 100 or 120 tons)
  • The cabin on the bridge of the antenna housed transmitter equipment, beds, and an office.
  • The antenna system was rotated by a central motor via four peripheral drive units (incorrect: the system was rotated by four electric locomotives).
  • Nearby was a transformer station, a storage shed, and a medical unit.


Berhard station

Fig. 80: Plaque in the village of La Pernelle

(image adapted to better fit this page)


REFERENCES

  • Ref. 13: "Japanese Electronics", OPNAV-16-VP101, Photographic Intelligence - Report 1, U.S. Naval Photographic Intelligence Center, January 1945, 166 pp. [33 MB]
  • Ref. 90:
  • Ref. 90A: private message to me in March of 2015 in the Axis History Forum
  • Ref. 90B: pp. 21, 57, 58 in "Stations radar et radio-navigation sur le Mur de l'Atlantique - Spécial Normandie d'Antifer à Granville", Alain Chazette, Bernard Paich, Alain Destouches, Jacques Tomine, Jörg Poweleit, Michaël Svejgaard, Histoire & Fortifications, 2015, 96 pp
  • supplement: "Stations radar et de radio-navigation sur le Mur de l'Atlantique (complement photos)", 32 pp.
  • Ref. 90C: p. 161 in "Stations radar et radio-navigation sur le Mur de l'Atlantique - Volume 2 -Spécial Belgique - Nord - Pas-de-Calais - Picardie - Haute-Normandie", Alain Chazette, Bernard Paich, Pierre Nowak, Alain Destouches, Jacques Tomine, Ingrid Paindavoine, Histoire & Fortifications, 2016, 160 pp.
  • Ref. 90D: "Drawing of a Funk Sende Anlage Bernard 724/725 bunker", 14-March-2015 thread in Axis History Forum; used with permission
  • Ref. 90E: "German Military Symbols", U.S. War Dept., General Staff, Military Intelligence Service, January 1943, 152 pp. (public domain, no ©)
  • Ref. 91: pp. 60-69 in "Mémoires sans concessions", Yves Rocard, Grasset, 1988, 302 pp., ISBN-10: 2246411211
  • Ref. 107: p. 48 in "Bodenfunkmessgeräte der deutschen Luftwaffe bis 1945", Werner Müller, Band 132 of the series "Waffen-Arsenal - Waffen und Fahrzeuge der Heere und Luftstreitkräfte", Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, 1992, 50 pp.  See note 1
  • Ref. 108: "Quatre ans d'occupation pour la vigie du Val-de-Saire : 1940-1944 : La Pernelle, H.K.A.A. 1261, 9 et 10", Yannick Rose, Alençon A.C.R.E.D.I.C. Publ., 2nd. ed., 1990, 68 pp.
  • Ref. 109: "British Army Photographic Intelligence Section (APIS) - Photographic intelligence for operation 'Overlord'" (the invasion of France) - La Pernelle:
  • Ref. 109A: Imperial War Museums (IWM) catalogue number MH 24808: "Low oblique of a 17 cm heavy gun in a hedgerow near la Pernelle. This photograph, taken during a reconnaissance sortie over the 'Bernhard' radio navigational station, led to the discovery of a camouflaged battery at the site"
  • Ref. 109B: Imperial War Museums (IWM) catalogue number MH 24809: "The gun battery at la Pernelle after air and naval bombardment. The 'Bernhard' antenna of the adjacent radio navigational station can be seen at the road junction, top left."
  • Ref. 109C: Imperial War Museums (IWM) catalogue number MH 24856: "Oblique aerial of the radio navigational station at la Pernelle under air bombardment. The 'Bernhard' antenna can be seen middle right, and in the right foreground is the destroyed gun battery"
  • Ref. 118: plate 15 in "Most Secret War", R.V. Jones, Hamish Hamilton, 1978, 576 pp.  See note 1
  • Ref. 128: personal correspondence with Y. Rose, December 2013 - April 2014
  • Ref. 172: copy of item in file AIR 29/284 "Central Interpretation Unit (CIU) Medmenham; Interpretation reports and aerial photos (1943)". Item is in the collection of The National Archives; material with UK Crown Copyright, used in accordance with the Open Government License [pdf].
  • Summary of the contents of ref. 172A.
  • Ref. 172A: "German “Windjammer” R.D.F. Stations", part of "Monthly interpretation review for July 1943", 7 pp.
  • Ref. 174: copy of items in file AIR 14/3594 ""Windjammer" station: photographs and interpretation reports. Includes vertical and low oblique aerial photographs of 'Windjammer' radar sites in Germany and France (1943/1944)". Items are in the collection of The National Archives; material with UK Crown Copyright, used in accordance with the Open Government License [pdf].
  • Summary of the contents of ref. 174A-174J.
  • Ref. 174A: Letter entitled "W/T Bergen/Belvedere" by Squadron Leader C.W. Swanell on behalf of the Group Captain commanding R.A.F. Station Medmenham to R.V. Jones (A.D.I. Science), dated 9th April 1943, 1 page + 1 photo
  • Ref. 174B: Aerial photo of station "Bergen/Belvedere" [The Netherlands], photo No. 3022, taken 22rd March 1943 by 541 Squadron
  • Ref. 174C: Letter entitled "W/T – Bergen/Belvedere" by Group Captain commanding R.A.F. Station Medmenham to R.V. Jones (A.D.I. Science), dated 9th April 1943, 1 page. (note: photos referenced in letter not on file)
  • Ref. 174D: Letter entitled "W/T Desvres/Le Bois Julien" on behalf of Group Captain commanding R.A.F. Station Medmenham to R.V. Jones (A.D.I. Science), dated 15th November 1942, 1 page + 2 photos.
  • Ref. 174E: Letter entitled "W/T: Desvres/Le Bois Julien" on behalf of Group Captain commanding R.A.F. Station Medmenham to R.V. Jones (A.D.I. Science), dated 29th March 1943, 1 page + 1 photo.
  • Ref. 174F: "Interpretation Report No. G. 308" dated 28th June 1942, of aerial photos taken over Desvres/Le-Bois-Julien at altitude of 20k ft during Sortie A/945 on 20th June 1942, 1 page + 1 photo.
  • Ref. 174G: "Interpretation report No. G.590" dated 6th October 1942, of aerial photo taken over locality Morlaix, W/T station Mt. St. Michel, at altitude of 12k ft during Sortie Q/21 on 24th September 1942, 2 pages + 1 photo.
  • Ref. 174H: Letter entitled "W/T: Pouzauges/St.Michel-Mont-Mercure" on behalf of Group Captain commanding R.A.F. Station Medmenham to Squadron Leader Whitehead (A.I.4), dated 29th March 1943, 1 page + 3 photos.
  • Ref. 174J: Photos No. 4065 and 4066 of station at St. Vaast / La Pernelle, taken 31st March 1943 from off shore. [station is fully, though vaguely, visible on horizon]
  • Ref. 206: Map dated 2 October 1942 in the Kriegstagebuch [KTB, war journal) of the 320th Infantry Division and a 1944 Kriegsmarine KTB.
  • Ref. 219: Map of Luftwaffen- and Marine-stellungen, dated 2-Oct-1942, in the Kriegstagebuch (war journal) of the 320th Infantry Division.

Note 1: due to copyright reasons, this file is in a password-protected directory. Contact me if you need access for research or personal study purposes.

External links last checked: January 2019


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