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FONTAINE-LA-MALLET, LE HAVRE, SEINE-MARITIME, HAUTE-NORMANDIE, FRANCE



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KEY: Location markers are coloured from Green meaning exact to Red meaning gone or unknown (details here)


Number of Photos:
4
Sample Photo

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Location Category ID:
6120
Address: Route de Montivilliers, 76290 Fontaine-la-Mallet
Telephone: N/A
Email:
Opening Times: Accessible at any time
Official Website: Le Mémorial de Fontaine-la-Mallet
Other Links: Wikipedia: Operation Astonia
Tanks in France
Fontaine-la-Mallet Website
Latitude, Longitude: 49.54160549 , 0.15930578
Location Accuracy: 10
Tanks Previously Here:


North of Le Havre there is a monument consisting of a Churchill tank, British and Canadian flags, a bridge and a display of unit insignia to commemorate Operation Astonia. This objective of this operation was the capture of the German-held port of Le Havre. A noticeboard on the memorial reads as follows:

ASTONIA OPERATION.
At the beginning of September 1944 Allied forces reached Belgium’s boundaries. The Fortress of Le Havre called “Festung” by the Germans was the most important port on the English Channel for supplying fuel, munitions and food. The Germans defended the “Atlantic Wall” with batteries, guns, strongpoints, minefields and an anti-tank ditch from the cliffs (at the west part of Octeville-sur-Mer) to Montivilliers where the valley was flooded by the river ‘La Lézarde’. ‘Astonia’ began 10 September 1944 under OC General Crocker of 1st British Corps, involving two divisions. 49th West Riding Infantry (Polar Bears) on the east under General Barker; 51st Highland Division on the west under General Rennie, supported by several artillery, three armoured brigades and 1 specialised armoured brigade (the “Hobbard” brigade that distinguished itself on D-Day). About 4500 soldiers took part. Opposite 11,000 Germans were entrenched.

A preliminary bombing 4.15 – 5.45 pm dropped 4720 tons of bombs. At 5.45 the assault began from the North, half a mile from here. Three lines were expected to cross minefields and the anti-tank ditch “Laura Hazel May”. The Allies used flails and assault bridges. The first strongpoints were reached at 7.22 (with heavy losses). The second phase of Astonia began 11 September at midnight towards Fontaine-la-Mallet, at 05.30 heading from Gainneville to the city. The German garrison capitulated on 12th September 1944.


1) A22 Churchill Tank British


Number of Photos:
7
Sample Photo from Tank with UniqueID 785

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Unique ID: 785
Serial Number:
Registration: “T10944/B” painted on air intakes.
Name: “ASTONIA” painted on right turret side.
Other Identification:

This Churchill is a Mark VII; it is missing its muzzle brake but otherwise appears to be in good condition and well restored.

A board on the memorial gives some background information:

The regimental plates on this panel were offered to the association “Remember Le Havre 1944” by veterans during their pilgrimage to the battle-field, in memory of those who fell under enemy fire.

All the units are not included, only the ground forces are shown. Nevertheless, they are arranged in the same order as the tactical plan, on the final assault: 49th W.R.D. Infantry Divivsion on the left sector, and 51st Infantry Division on the right one.

The “Memorial of Battle of Le Havre” was built with the financial support of Fontaine-la-Mallet, Gonfreville-l’Orcher, Montivilliers, Octeville-sur-Mer, du Conseil Général de la Seine Maritime; and D.M.P.A. (Paris), veterans associations, and Remember Le Havre 1944. The Churchill Mk VII, was offered by the Bovington Tank Museum and carried to Le Havre with the aid of the British Army on July 10th 2000.

It was restored by the association and installed in front of a symbolic representation of the anti-tank ditch. A replica of an assault bridge spans this ditch.

This memorial was built in memory of those who fell during the battle and for the civilians of the different cities who suffered and died.