Restaurant Le Roosevelt - Utah Beach

The history of Utah Beach : the bunker
Testimonies of Roger Chagnon, NOIC's veteran

The organisation on the beach

The bunker was built by the german army as part of their defenses of the Normandy beaches sometime before June 1944. At that time, it was probably used as a telephone control center and was attached to a damaged fisherman's cottage. It also had false windows painted on the outside wall to make it look like a part of the cottage. The figure also shows three sailors from the 2nd Naval Beach Battalion (NBB), dressed in army uniforms, pausing at the bunker for a rest during some quiet moments. At approximately 10:30 A.M. of D-Day, the communication group, comprising about 7 officers and 40+ enlisted men, raidomen, yeomen and seamen, landed on the beach at an entry point close to the present location of the Utah Beach museum.

They immediately set themselves up as an operational communications center using 3 international trucks containing all the necessary radio equipment to perform their mission. Their job was to support the Naval Officer in charge (NOIC) of Utah Beach who along with the beachmaster of the 2nb NBB, was responsible for the landing of men and equipment on the beach during the day of the invasion and also, beyond that time. The 2nd NBB operated voice radios and were concerned wtih the movement of material and men which were more time-critical and did not require the encoding of their messages for security reasons whereas, the NOIC men were concerned with transmission of messages which were security-related and therefore required encoding and transmission by radio Morse code.

The soldiers landing in june 1944

On D-Day +1, upon receiving word from the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU) or the Army ESB that the bunker was clear of any booby traps, the NOIC men moved in. All radio equipment was taken out of the trucks and relocated to the bunker along with other miscellaneous furnishings. Outside antennas were installed, cables buried in the sand with the help of German POW's and on D-Day+2, the bunker became fully operationnal as a radio communication center. Though the bunker room is relatively small, the group managed to squeeze in about 6 or 7 radio operators and in an adjoining cove, a radio supervisor and a messenger installed themselves to start the first radio watch. Radio operations were based on 3 shifts per day, with men working two 4-hour shifts every day of the week for close to 5 months. The center generally communicated with other invasion beaches (Omaha Beach); off-shore vessels, various command ships at sea and had the capability of getting messages to any Navy location in the world using its special radio frequency (NSS) which broadcoast continuously around the dock. Operations continued until October 31, 1944, at which time, all the men went off into different directions depending the walls of the bunker, not knowing that they would be discovered 50 years later. Some men were assigned to mobile units providing support to the crossing of the Rhine, to operations against pockets of resistance in France, to ships at sea and some others, to the U.S. for transfer to the Pacific Theatre.

The bunker - Dangers - Conditions - Recreations - Restaurant

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