- Îles Saint-Marcouf
Îles Saint-Marcouf are a group of two small uninhabited islands off the coast of
Normandy, France. They lie in the Baie de la Seineregion of the English Channeland are 6.5 kilometres east of the coast of the Cotentin peninsulaat Ravenovilleand 13 kilometres from the island of Tatihouand the harbour at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue.
The larger island, île du Large, is 500 metres east of the smaller île de Terre. They have a total area of 1,400 ha and a maximum altitude of 10 m.
The islands take their name from
Saint Marcouf, a saint who died on the Îles Saint-Marcouf on 1 May 588, and there was a monastic presence on the islands until the 15th century.
French Revolutionary Warsthe islands were held for nearly seven years by the Royal Navyas a strategic forward base.
In July 1795 the islands were occupied by sailors from the Western Frigate Squadron under the command of Captain Sir Sidney Smith in HMS "Diamond". He sacrificed two of his gun vessels, HMS "Badger" and HMS "Sandfly", to provide materials and manpower for fortifying the islands and setting a temporary naval garrison. Further defences were constructed by Royal Engineers, and Royal Marines and Royal Artillery detachments were established.
The islands served as a forward base for the blockade of
Le Havre, a launching point for intercepting coastal shipping, and as a transit point for French émigrés. A major attack by French troops was repelled in May 1798.
The islands were returned to France under the terms of Article 3 of the 1802
Treaty of Amiens, and the last British forces left the islands in May 1802.
After 1803 the islands were fortified by the French, with circular tower gun batteries.
World War II
World War IIthe islands became the first territory taken on D-Day by seaborne Allied forces. At 04:30 on 6 June 1944soldiers of the 4th and 24th Squadrons of the U.S. 4th Cavalry Grouplanded on the unoccupied islands to secure the approaches to Utah Beach. [cite web
title= "THE SEABORNE ASSAULT: Task Force U Moves In"
author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors=
1 October 1947| work= UTAH Beach to Cherbourg
publisher= Department of the U.S. Army, Historical Division
pages= |language= |doi= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote=
accessdate= 2008-04-03 ]
The islands are directly administered by the French government, and form a protected
nature reservewith restricted access.
*M. E. S. Laws — "The Defence of St. Marcouf", "The Journal of the Royal Artillery" Vol. LXXV, No. 4 ( [http://www.napoleonic-literature.com/RA_Journal/Def_of_St.Marcouf.pdf Pdf version] )
*Gérard Morizot — "Histoire des îles Saint-Marcouf en Cotentin, jusqu'au XIXe siècle" ISBN 2-9516531-0-7
* [http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sites/index.html?action=SitHTMDetails.asp&sid=2189&m=0 Îles Saint-Marcouf nature reserve]
* [http://www.lesilesdefrance.com/diapo.php?ville=1 Aerial photos]
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