Vierville-sur-Mer experienced its tourist boom at the beginning of the 20th century when train and tram tracks were built in Normandy. Hotels, restaurants and villas therefore appear on the seaside of the town as evidenced by these postcards:
Above, the Gambier House, which the Normans nicknamed the house "la villa Gambier" or "la Folie Gambier", after its owner.
DURING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION
To protect himself from any enemy attack, Hitler decides to build a line of defense in western Europe, which propaganda will call the "Atlantic Wall". This line looks more like a string of pearls than a real wall, the pearls being the fortifications. These consist of submarine bases, ports transformed into fortresses (like Cherbourg), coastal artillery batteries (like Pointe du Hoc or Longues-sur-Mer), obstacles on the beaches and nests. of resistance (in German Widerstandsnest abbreviated as WN).
WN73 is the westernmost German support point of Vierville-sur-Mer. It was built around the Gambier house, abandoned by the local population during the installation of the German troops. It includes a casemate (= bunker) for 75mm cannon, several shelters, mortar tobrouks, machine guns and an observatory of great help to the artillerymen in adjusting their fire to the enemy.
The blue buildings correspond to the French properties of the Gambier family before the war. No trace of these two structures remains today.
In red are represented the German fortifications of WN73. Today, the two anti-aircraft tobrouks, the bunker and four shelters are visible from the ground. The observatory is only visible from the air. As for the rest, they are either buried or completely covered with vegetation. At the time, all of these structures were linked together by underground tunnels or trenches.
On these 7km of beach which we nickname Omaha Beach, the American objective is to secure the municipalities of Vierville-sur-Mer, Saint Laurent-sur-Mer, Colleville-sur-Mer and then to make the junction with the Americans having landed on Utah Beach and the British having landed on Gold Beach. After intense Allied bombardments overnight, 34,250 American troops and 3,300 vehicles land in 6 waves 30 minutes apart.
In its mission, Company C of the 2nd American Ranger Battalion was to land at the western end of Vierville Beach with the ultimate goal of "cleaning up" the area up to Pointe du Hoc. The program provided 2 hours for C Coy to accomplish this mission. Everything depended on the Company A / 116 which was to ensure the village of Vierville. But the A / 116 company had been destroyed right on the beach!
Of the 64 Rangers of Company C of the 2nd Battalion, 31 arrived at 6.45 am at the foot of the cliff where WN73 was nestled. Alone, with no possibility of reinforcement… The commander of company C, Captain Goranson, remembers having managed to reach the base of the cliff: “Crossing the beach was like a dream, all the movements of body and mind were automatic. "
The cliff is 30 meters high and the German soldiers begin to fire with mortars and grenades. The Rangers therefore shifted 300 meters to the west and climb to the top of the cliff. On their left appears the Gambier villa which they will nickname from then on "the Fortified House". Seeing the German fortifications of WN73 seen previously, Captain Goranson decides to neutralize this position before heading towards Pointe du Hoc. The fight lasted until the beginning of the afternoon when the Rangers ended up neutralizing the mortars and other positions, notably with phosphorus grenades. Finally, at 1 p.m. the Vierville valley was in the hands of American troops.
THE CREATION OF THE CAMPSITE:
When the war is over, life resumes its course. The remains of the artificial harbor used by the Americans now hold many fish and shellfish. Summer visitors can enjoy a very prolific shore fishing or angling with mussels, cakes, plaice or sole. Tourists are flocking again and among them are wild camping enthusiasts. The WN73 is therefore now occupied by campers favoring freedom, calm and nature over comfort.
When wild camping was banned in 1970, a new campsite was created with 3 toilet blocks, a grocery store and a capacity of 600 campers.
Changing owners several times, the campsite will undergo renovations in 2011, 2017 and 2018.