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Îles Saint-Marcouf: Wikis


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Îles Saint-Marcouf are a group of two small uninhabited islands off the coast of Normandy, France. They lie in the Baie de la Seine region of the English Channel and are 6.5 kilometres east of the coast of the Cotentin peninsula at Ravenoville and 13 kilometres from the island of Tatihou and 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.


British occupation

During the French Revolutionary Wars the islands were held for nearly seven years by the Royal Navy as 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 at the Battle of Saint Marcouf.

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

In World War II the islands became the first territory taken on D-Day by seaborne Allied forces. At 04:30 on 6 June 1944 soldiers of the 4th and 24th Squadrons of the U.S. 4th Cavalry Group landed on the unoccupied islands to secure the approaches to Utah Beach.[1]

Nature reserve

The islands are directly administered by the French government, and form a protected nature reserve with restricted access.


  1. ^ ""THE SEABORNE ASSAULT: Task Force U Moves In"". UTAH Beach to Cherbourg. Department of the U.S. Army, Historical Division. 1 October 1947. Retrieved 2008-04-03.  


  • M. E. S. Laws — "The Defence of St. Marcouf", The Journal of the Royal Artillery Vol. LXXV, No. 4 (Pdf version)
  • James Naval history of Great Britain - Volume II, page 114-118 ([1])

Further reading

  • Gérard Morizot — Histoire des îles Saint-Marcouf en Cotentin, jusqu'au XIXe siècle ISBN 2-9516531-0-7

External links

Coordinates: 49°29.75′N 1°9′W / 49.49583°N 1.15°W / 49.49583; -1.15



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