Monte Cassino, Italy...
...a special trip for 2018
I have long had something of a fascination for the German V-weapons of WW2, and one of the things I knew of, and had always wanted to see, was one of the so-called 'Ski sites', which the RAF targeted once they were identified. There are the remains of a few of these sites that still remain in France, and I finally had the chance to visit one which is still largely intact. Not only is it freely accessible, but in some summer sunshine it is also a cool walk to enjoy.
Coming from the southern end of the D138 it is a few minutes drive and look out for some car parking on the right hand side of the road, amidst the woods. There is a large sign in the car park that shows the site and a walking route to follow. If the weather is warm, then walking under the trees is a cool and pleasant experience. The walk starts following the concrete roadway that was laid down when the launch was first built. There are then little signs beside the path, with a little red V1 silhouette to point you around the route. Turning off to the left you soon see the first of the three ski storage buildings which all remain. The ski-shape to the concrete buildings are very distinctive. The doors at the entrances are long gone so you can walk inside the first one you come to. The second had steel girder put inside to prevent visitor access, as this is now the home for some protected bats who now roost in the old building.
Continue to follow the walking route and you come across all the other buildings associated with the V1 launch site, the only one which is demolished being the anti-magnetic building which would have been used to set the compass on the assembled missile prior to launch. There are even bomb craters still quite evident amidst the trees. The other iconic element that remains here though are the blast wall that would have flanked the launch ramp itself. It is just outside the cover of the trees, on the edge of an adjacent field. You can walk around them, but the space between them is very heavily overgrown and inaccessible.
Today the site is peaceful and of course well camouflaged from the air, but to walk amidst the historic remains of a V1 launch site is quite fascinating and easy to get to for a trip from the UK.