Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

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rewdco
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Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 23 Mar 2014 22:01

A colleague of mine owns one of the meadows at the former railroad battery (Stp. 687 E) in Lissewege, Belgium. We have reason to believe that one of the Vögele turntables was located in this meadow.

It may be a little self-indulgent but I wanted to put together a thread where I could collate all the available information about this battery. Any additional information is of course very welcome!
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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rewdco
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 23 Mar 2014 22:01

First some information about the 20.3 cm guns from Wikipedia:

The 20.3 cm Kanone (E - Eisenbahnlafette (railroad mount)) was a German railroad gun used on coast-defense duties in Occupied France and Belgium during World War II. Eight guns were transferred from the Navy's stocks after having become redundant with the loss and sale of several Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruisers and were delivered in 1941 and 1942.

As part of the re-armament program initiated by the Nazis after taking power in 1933 the Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres – OKH) ordered Krupp to begin work on new railroad artillery designs, but they would take a long time to develop. Krupp pointed out that it could deliver a number of railroad guns much more quickly using obsolete guns already on hand and modernizing their original World War I mountings for which it still had drawings available. OKH agreed and authorized Krupp in 1936 to begin design of a series of guns between 15 and 28 cm (5.9 and 11.0 in) for delivery by 1939 as the Emergency Program (Sofort-Programe).
Eight 20.3 cm SK C/34 guns intended for the Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruisers were made available for the Army. Krupp was able to adapt the design of the World War I-era 21 cm SK "Peter Adalbert" for the smaller guns. Two differences were the substitution of an ammunition crane for the overhead ammunition trolley system of the "Peter Adalbert" and the removal of the latter's under-carriage pivot mount and rollers. Sources differ on how much the gun could traverse on its mount. Kosar and François quote 2.4°, while Gander and Chamberlain say 14', but Hogg says not at all. Whatever the exact figure, the gun could traverse only enough on the mount itself for fine corrections, coarser adjustments had to be made by turning the entire mount on the Vögele turntable. The turntable (Drehscheibe) consisted of a circular track with a pivot mount in the center for a platform on which the railroad gun itself was secured. A ramp was used to raise the railway gun to the level of the platform. The platform had rollers at each end which rested on the circular rail for 360° traverse. It had a capacity of 300 tonnes (300 long tons; 330 short tons), enough for most of the railroad guns in the German inventory. The gun could only be loaded at 0° elevation and so had to be re-aimed for each shot. Four guns each were delivered in 1941 and 1942.
Photographic evidence exists of a 20.3 cm K (E) carried by two six-axle Culemeyer-Strassenfahrzeug lowboy trailers and moving by road.

The Army failed to appreciate that the naval 20.3 cm (8.0 in) ammunition was not in its inventory until after the guns had already been produced. It asked Krupp to modify the guns to use its standard 21 cm (8.3 in) ammunition, but it proved uneconomic to do so. It deployed the guns in fixed locations, i.e. on coast-defense duties, to minimize the burden on its logistical system. Ultimately the Army ordered eight 21 cm replacement barrels, but only four had been built before six weapons were captured or destroyed during the Battle of Normandy and the whole exercise became futile. It used the German naval system of ammunition where the base charge was held in a metallic cartridge case and supplemented by another charge in a silk bag which was rammed first.

Shell name: 20.3 cm HE shell with ballistic cap (Sprenggranate L/4.7 m Hb)
Weight: 122 kg (269 lb)
Filling weight: 8.93 kg (19.7 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 925 m/s (3,030 ft/s)
Range: 37,000 m (40,000 yd)

Shell name: base-fused 20.3 cm HE shell with ballistic cap (Sprenggranate) L/4.7 m Bdz. m Hb)
Weight: 124 kg (273 lb)
Filling weight: 6.54 kg (14.4 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 925 m/s (3,030 ft/s)
Range: 37,000 m (40,000 yd)

By 8 July 1942 two guns were assigned to Battery 687 and spent the rest of the war on coast defense duties at Lissewege, Belgium. This battery was later redesignated as 4th Battery, Army Coast Artillery Regiment (4./Heeres-Küstenartillery-Regiment) 1240. Four weapons were assigned to Battery 532 in Paimpol, Brittany. This battery was later redesignated as Army Coast Artillery Battery 1272. Battery 685 was stationed in Auderville-Laye with 2 guns to defend the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula until being destroyed after the Americans isolated the peninsula on 18 June 1944. It was later redesignated as 3rd Battery, Army Coast Artillery Regiment 1262.
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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rewdco
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 23 Mar 2014 22:02

Some historical documents:

I’ve done two map overlays (both from 1943). The first one is a German document:

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The second one is a sketch that was made by the Belgian resistance (Service Marc):

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And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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rewdco
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 23 Mar 2014 22:02

Some pictures:

The first one is not Lissewege, but Auderville (I think…). But this picture clearly shows the Vögele Drehbettung or turntable:

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This is one of the railway guns in Lissewege. Not sure which one (did they also have names?).

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This picture (source: Beeldbank Brugge) was taken in Lissewege just after the war:

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Last edited by rewdco on 23 Mar 2014 22:05, edited 1 time in total.
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 23 Mar 2014 22:03

And now the research bit:

In an old aerial view (from approximately 10 years ago) we could clearly see a circle (position 1), which may have been the location of one of the turntables. This theory may be confirmed by the fact that it was impossible to plough this meadow, due to an enormous amount of boulders in that area, remains of the old railway / turntable bed?

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So this may have been one of the turntables… But where was the second one? Close examination of the old aerial view revealed a second circel in a nearby meadow, see position 2 on the picture above. The problem is that the bunkers which are just visible in the picture in the previous post don’t align with neither the current situation in position 1 nor position 2… And although a lot of bunkers have already been destroyed in Lissewege, none of the bunkers on this land have been demolished since the end of the war…

Has anybody got more pictures of this battery? Or any other information about the location of the guns?

Regards,
Jan
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by Manuferey » 24 Mar 2014 01:46

Nice work, Jan. :thumbsup:
rewdco wrote:The first one is not Lissewege, but Auderville (I think…). But this picture clearly shows the Vögele Drehbettung or turntable:

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This is not a 20,3 cm K(E) but a 24 cm Theodor K(E) of E.674 at Erromardie in southwestern France. You can tell the difference by the shape of the barrel and the big counterweight on top of it. :wink:

Emmanuel

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rewdco
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 24 Mar 2014 06:07

Thanks Emmanuel! Interesting to know!

Cheers,
Jan
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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SES
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by SES » 24 Mar 2014 06:16

Hi Jan,
Try out this site:
http://ncap.org.uk/
with a bit of luck your area might be covered.
bregds
SES

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by pierrot » 24 Mar 2014 07:47

Hello Jan,

I put all the information you want on the air picture hereunder.

Gr.

Pierrot
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 24 Mar 2014 20:25

Hello Pierrot,

Thank you very much! This is the stuff that dreams are made of! :D We had almost lost hope to find a war time aerial view of this site.

Have been playing with Google Earth overlays again. Our "number 1" turntable location was spot on! But our "number 2" was completely wrong... Anyway, interesting to see that both turntables were moved during the war.

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The picture from the Beeldbank Brugge (taken at the end of the war) confirms the post October 1942 locations of (at least one of) both batteries. But the Regelbau 622 bunker next to the Drehbettung wasn't "zerstört" yet. This is a "then and now":

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Regards,
Jan
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by pierrot » 25 Mar 2014 08:20

Sorry, I had to reduce the resolution of the picture to fit on the forum and I didn't check if everything was still readable (not the case obviously).
Here again the same air picture (not wartime but NGI 1948) with some comments on it.

On a German plan of this Stpkt, the Germans refered the (presumely) R622 as Doppelhaus-Stand and the R134 as Muni-Stand. It's a report of the Service Marc (Resistance Group) that talked about 4 x R622, 1 x R134 and 1 x Leitstand for this position.

Gr.

Pierrot
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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 25 Mar 2014 21:15

Thank you very much for your help Pierrot! Much appreciated!

I thought it would be a good idea to add the well known pictures of the French 20,3cm railway guns to this thread as well (Paimpol or Auderville?). After all, they are identical to the "Lisseweghe batterie" guns...

First some pictures from the Bundesarchiv: the arrival of an Eisenbahnbatterie train chassis.

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And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 25 Mar 2014 21:15

Batterie in use by the Germans:

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And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 25 Mar 2014 21:16

Batterie destroyed by the Americans:

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Regards,
Jan
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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Re: Stp. 687 E (Lisseweghe)

Post by rewdco » 25 Mar 2014 21:27

SES wrote:Hi Jan,
Try out this site:
http://ncap.org.uk/
with a bit of luck your area might be covered.
bregds
SES
Hello SES,

Thanks for this link. Just gave it a try, but no results for this area I'm afraid...

Cheers,
Jan
And now it's your turn to get up off that couch and go into the deserts, go into the mountains, go under the lakes, rivers, and seas and search for history. You'll never find a more rewarding adventure!” (Clive Cussler)

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