Survivors share haunting memories of Maisy battery in Normandy

(WVUE) - Bayeux was liberated by allied forces on June 7, 1944. There were battles raging throughout the Normandy countryside for weeks after D-Day. Louisiana veteran Dan Farley of the 5th Ranger Battalion was part of that fighting.

While Army Rangers were scaling the Normandy cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc, believed to be a German artillery stronghold, enemy shells continued to pound allied forces at Omaha and Utah beaches.  American Rangers, like then 17-year-old Dan Farley, attacked a second artillery location at Maisy battery.

"We go up there and it's all underground bunkers," said Farley. "We get in there and we start hand-to-hand combat. Maisy battery was just as bad as Omaha beach, if not worse."

But for 62-years, the remains of the massive German battery at Maisy lay buried in the Normandy countryside

"We set about looking for a site that didn't exist in history at all," said Daniel Sterne.

Sterne's British family had an apartment near the forgotten site. His father found a military map that marked an "area of high resistance" at Maisy.

"So we came looking for it. And my father came onto these fields, had a bit of search around and eventually started finding concrete," said Sterne.

The Sternes bought the farmland, began excavating and uncovered a massive network of German trenches and bunkers.

"Now the trenches are 9.8 meters wide and 1.8 meters tall," said Sterne. "Most of them had archways over the top of them. So it's almost like being in a rat run. And running around in these things, you can just imagine coming around a corner and there's a load of Germans in front of you."

"It was completely dark in there," added Farley. "We finally got the walkway and came out into the opening and then went into another one - one right after the other."

Farley was wounded in the fighting at Maisy battery

"I got shot in the shoulder. I think I was shot by sniper," he said.

"We were here 15-years ago and this was just a pasture," said Clark Ranney.

Ranney's father was also part of the 5th Rangers who fought here.

"Dad was like so many of the veterans, he really didn't talk about his war experience much," said Ranney. "D-Day has this sense of we took the beach and it was over and that's really a misconception. The fighting went on for weeks right in this area

Dan Farley also returned to the site when it was first excavated 8 years ago.

"How did I live through that? That's what you're thinking," said Farley.

All of the towns in Normandy are decorated with American, British, Canadian and French flags as the region marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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