German Coastal Defence – Battery Memel-North

When Germany annexed Klaipeda region, this presented a perfect opportunity to implement the plans; already on July 10, 1939 the Chief German Navy Authority decided to install permanent artillery batteries by the Klaipeda port. A battery located to the north of Smiltine was named Memel-Süd, and another one installed 5 kilometres to the north-west of the city became Memel-Nord. The two batteries were armed with 150 mm cannons, four in each. The cannons were placed into the end parts of oblong concrete structures with premises of various purposes located underground in-between. Stairs down from each of the cannon placement area provided access to three separate storage areas: 1) shells, 2) charges, 3) detonators. Behind them a passage led to the connecting garrison casemate which in turn gave way to the postern with rooms by either sire: the crew „lounge“, soldiers‘ casemate, enlisted personnel room, maintenance premises, washing and shower facilities, tambour, ventilation equipment and water storage casemate, heating system casemate. Somewhat less casemates were located behind the metal doors which divided the postern into two parts; however instead of auxiliary crew and maintenance casemates like in the left sector the space in the right sector was customized for storing ammunition – two shell stores and a large charge casemate.
The outer walls were up to 1m thick, a single artillery block reached 86 m in length. A battery control post was constructed in the middle between two artillery cannon blocks, 30 m away from each of them. The shape and structure of the building was reminiscent of a military ship, looking from above it had a form of a wedge, the thin end of which was equipped with two observation domes. Located behind it there was the biggest fortification facility for calculating equipment which connected via metal doors to the corridor leading to the tambour, crew “lounge” casemates, ventilation equipment room, soldiers’ room and to the second corridor where heating system and shower facilities were installed. Further up the stairs led to the outside.
On June 10, 1939 a decision to install six Fla 2 type zenith batteries in Klaipeda region was taken; each of the batteries would be armed with four 88 mm cannons. The batteries were given German names and are listed here in their original language: 1) Schweinsrücken (Pig’s back) – in Kuršių Nerija to the southwest of Klaipeda, 2) Seedstrand (Smiltynė) – in Kuršių Nerija to the west of Klaipeda, 3) Götzhöfen – to the south of Klaipėda, 4) Löllen (Lėliai) – to the east of Klaipėda, 5) Dange (Danė) –to the northeast of Klaipėda, , 6) Nordmole – to the northwest of Klaipėda. The batteries were located 1 to 4 km away from Klaipeda. Anti-aircraft Fla 2 batteries consisted of four heavy cannon platforms, battery control post and a web of galleries connecting crew shelters, lounge quarters, ammunition stores, restrooms and maintenance premises. The plan was trapezium shaped, its three sides were 30 m long and the fourth – 60 m. Due to the shape of the structure, the guns installed on the side of the battery could, without obstructing each other, deliver fire not only at the air but also at the ground targets within their firing range.

Cannon nests and battery control posts were constructed first, ammunition stores, power production casemates, secondary control posts were installed later. However several mishaps also occurred, as evidently shown by the Pig’s Back battery example. The actual construction exhibits non-conformities to its design whereas only two out of envisaged four gun nests were constructed and de facto only two cannons were ever installed.
Simultaneously, construction of the so-called Raul coastal defence battery (170 mm cannons) slightly to the south by Pilkopiai was ongoing. Due to the change in the political situation, namely Germany attacking the Soviet Union in 1941, the above-mentioned coastal defence batteries were ultimately disarmed and the respective cannons were transported to the further located German batteries close to St. Petersburg.



Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *