Background information | Contact details | rail travel*
2km walk from Watten-Eperlecques station on the Calais-Hazebrouck-Lille line

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Le Blockhaus
d'Eperlecques [near Watten]

39/45 Route
Blockhaus towers over visitors
Towering over visitors and the Forest that it is hidden in, the bunker is now classified as a national historic monument
March 1943 Blockhaus foundations
1943 construction site: note giant excavator in the pit.

Original launch base for V2 rockets
You stand in the peaceful forest of Eperlecques near Watten, gazing up at the enormous threatening concrete bunker that looms over you. It was intended to shelter a factory for manufacturing liquid oxygen rocket fuel, and for assembling, fuelling, and launching V2 rockets.

Why the site was chosen
In early 1943 the Nazi Todt Organisation looked for somewhere with a good electricity supply for the oxygen compressors, that could be supplied with materials by railway and canal barge.

Giant construction site
Here was also hidden in the forest and away from the coast. Thousands of slave labourers were drafted in to a gigantic building site.

Retaliation
The V2 was Hitler's "retaliation weapon" - Vergeltungswaffen. - to be aimed first at Britain, and then later perhaps improved to reach the USA.

It could have changed the course of the war, if Allied bombing raids had not been targetted to put it out of action in September 1943 - thanks to intelligence tip-offs from the French Resistance.

Hitler's change of plan
Following bomb damage to the Blockhaus, more resources were poured into another underground rocket launch base a few miles away. Now known as "
La Coupole", this is also open to the public. Meanwhile the roof of the damaged Blockhaus was strengthened, so it could still be used for making vital liquid oxygen. The Allies tried to devise a special bomb that could pierce 5 metres of concrete. As you can see, despite raids in June/July 1944, they had only limited success.

Blockhaus: aerial view
The Blockhaus from the air

Visiting the bunker
Inside the Blockhaus bunker, you are given a guided tour. This includes a projected video of photos from the Wehrmacht archives, showing the history of German wartime rocket research.

You can buy a CD-ROM copy to bring home.

Today the bunker is an historic monument commemorating peace in a woodland park.

V1 launching ramp in Eperlecques Forest
Unique in Europe, see a complete
V1 launching ramp - 45 metres long (Not originally used on this site).
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Other places to visit:
La Coupole Rocket Museum - near St-Omer

St Omer Blockhaus - An excellent range of presentations bring this Rocket base to life. Students found all aspects of this site very interesting. Sadly the shop had no English language resources for teachers to buy, other than that this site is one that I'd highly recommend to anyone investigating the Second World War. ...Why not send in your review?..
Reviewer - D Moorhouse, Head of History
Location:
Blockhaus, 62910 EPERLECQUES
Directions: Take Exit 2 "Nordasusques/ Eperlecques" from A26 Calais-Paris Autoroute, or follow D600 St-Omer - Bourbourg to Watten.
4km walk from Watten, 3km from Watten Station.
Rough guide to opening: Open 1 Mar-30 Nov. Hours: July/Aug: 10.00-19.00; Mar-Apr 14.15-18.00; May-Jun and Sept: 10.00-12.00, 14.15-19.00; Oct-Nov: 14.15-19.00
Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 21 88 44 22 - Fax: 00 33 3 21 88 44 84

Nature park:
Adomarois - the park includes the forest around the bunker. Information on walks and cycle paths from Park Office.

Related background information
Second World War
Operation “Fortitude South” and the Atlantic Wall
V1, V2 and V3 rockets - Hitler's secret weapons

Web Link: http://www.leblockhaus.com

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