The Fortress of Mimoyecques

Article and photos by Doug Slowski

The Fortress of Mimoyecques is the modern name for a Second World War underground military complex built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944. It was intended to house a battery of V-3 cannons aimed at London, 165 kilometers away

More than half a century ago, thousands of slave laborers were camped on the windswept hills near Marquise, toiling round the clock to dig out five long tunnels in the chalk. These were intended to contain 25 enormous gun barrels, 130 meters long and with a caliber of 150mm. They would have been the biggest guns in the world. Between them, they could have fired a barrage of rocket-assisted projectiles capable of reaching London, one every 12 seconds.

The base was never completed: it was bombed by the allies on 6 July 1944, using the powerful "Tallboy" bomb to penetrate the rocks.

A memorial located within the underground catacombs, is dedicated to the U.S. Navy pilot, Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy (the older brother of the future president of the United States: John F. Kennedy) who was killed along with his co-pilot Wilford J. Willy on 12 August 1944, during Operation Aphrodite, when the explosives in their BQ-8 "Robot" aircraft detonated prematurely and vaporized the plane along with its crew. Operation Aphrodite was a series of attacks on the underground V-3 facility near Mimoyecques carried out by the U.S. Army with bombers converted into flying bombs.