Musée Radar 1944

Parking

There is ample free parking outside, and picnic benches make it a nice lunch stop.

Toilets

Toilets are available one you have paid. They are located inside an original bunker.

Gift Shop

There are some books and other items available to purchase in the ticket office.

Inaugurated in time for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994, this museum should appeal not only to those with an interest in the Battle of Normandy, but to anyone with an interest in the history of radar or its technology. In 1944 the site itself was a much larger complex than exists today. There is now a single Würzburg-Riese ("Giant Würzburg") which is one-of-a-kind in Normandy, but at the time of D-Day there were two of these tracking radars, along with two Freya early-warning radars and one Wassermann IV long range early warning radar. The latter was situated in the northern part of the complex, some distance from the remaining radar, and was a huge 65 metres in height and weighing over 200 tons. A full-sized replica of a Freya antenna has now been installed by supporters of the museum.

Once inside the museum visitors follow a marked path around the site. The first stop, if you need it, is inside an original German bunker that now incorporates male and female restrooms. There is not a huge amount here, but what is there is well presented. It is, however, a shame that there aren't a few more details about the hard fought battle for the site after D-Day. Presently there are two bunkers open to the public, but quite a few more on site that are unfortunately off limits. Now that the museum at Douvres seems to be a member of the Mémorial de Caen family, like Arromanches 360 and Les Mémorial des Civils dans la Guerre at Falaise, hopefully funds will be made available to invest in the work required to open these bunkers to the public.

Inside the smaller of the two bunkers are some information panels with photos from the Second World War and before, showing the town of Douvres-la-Délivrande during peace-time and radar station after capture. There are good descriptions on the panels with translations in both English and German. There are some cabinets with artefacts recovered in the area, plus a 20mm Flak 38 cannon. Another large cabinet has a scale relief map/model showing both parts of the radar complex as it originally appeared, and really demonstrating the size of the original installation.

Visitors will then follow the pathway through the site and can view, albeit at a distance, some of the other blockhouses along with some more modern radar equipment which is on display, before arriving at the star of the museum - the Würzburg-Riese radar. It should also be noted that the Würzburg radar itself seems to have suffered in recent years - perhaps through high-winds or perhaps with metal fatigue taking its toll over time. The dish is no longer mounted to the supporting arms but rather leaning against the structure. A concrete base has been laid beneath the dish with embedded metal supports which connect to the bottom of the dish, and it is ringed by low red and white chain-link fence. You can also no longer climb the ladder into the rear section of the radar. We must point out that the photograph of the radar at the top of this page was taken some years ago with these more recent changes. Most visitors probably wouldn't notice, but this is just warning for the purists or for those who have visited the site in the past.

The second bunker is on multiple levels and much larger than the first. It contains a lot of detail for those interested in the history or technology of radar, through large clear information panels looking at the birth of radar and tracing its development up until pretty much the present day. Accordingly, some of the physical exhibits in this area are post-war. One of the most impressive things in this area is a scale model of the very bunker in which you are standing, being constructed by Organisation Todt. There are a number of other detailed scale models showing the different types of radar used by both the Germans and the Allies. There is film in several languages, and various other radar-related articles and exhibits. There is also a large map showing the location of all the various radar types along the coast of Northern France.

This bunker has a couple of really nicely reconstructed interior areas. The first is the telephone switchboard area. There is wood panelling behind, and small touches like a small clock sitting on the top add to the realism. Downstairs is a well-appointed bunk room, with a table and chairs, cupboards and a table with a wireless and some magazines. In the corner is a wood-burning stove and upon a shelf are some old books and some photos of a sweetheart or perhaps an actress or singer of that period. Two of the walls also have wood panelling. Of all the Atlantic Wall blockhouses in Normandy, this is perhaps one of the best reproduced rooms we have seen.

This museum may not be for everyone, but it's the only one of its kind and we think worth a visit, at least once.


Updated: July 2017



Contact Details:

Normandy Museums: