As today is the anniversary of D-Day, I thought I’d put up a few photos of my recent trip to Normandy, specifically looking at the Hillman Bunker complex.
The Hillman bunker complex is a 24 hectare site made up of 18 concrete bunkers crisscrossed by trenches. The site was a defensive command post on the Côte de Nacre, but was unfinished when the Allies arrived on D-Day. Originally it was surrounded by barbed wires and a mine field, and designed to provide an observation platform
It was captured by the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment who overran the position after landing at Sword Beach that morning. It saw considerable heroism and acts of tenacious attack on defence – on both sides. There was J Hunter’s charge which singlehandedly led to the capture of one of the outlying bunkers, and the stubborn defence of Colonel Krug and his men from the 736 Grenadier Regiment, who held out overnight with two other officers and 70 men – only surrendering the following day.
The Hillman complex is now a memorial to the Suffolk Regiment, and is a great site to explore, with much of it still open to visitors. There are three main bunkers with Tobruk pits that you can climb up inside (complete with range indicators based on church steeples), observation cupolas, trenches, a water reservoir, a cook house, a guard post… even the old water tank – all of which you can see in the pictures below.
Hillman is easy to find, and definitely worth a visit. It is on the Rue Suffolk Regiment, just south of Colleville-Montgomery. It can be reached by following the D60 north out of Caen, then turning north-east onto the D60 into Colleville-Montgomery.
Hillman may be off the beaten track, and is not often featured on the regular tourist trail, but I would highly recommend going. From it you can look down to the coast and Sword Beach, past another former German gun emplacement, and really get a sense of how far in land the British were trying to push on D-Day.