is a commune
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...
in the Calvados
The French department of Calvados is part of the region of Basse-Normandie in Normandy. It takes its name from a cluster of rocks off the English Channel coast...
department in the Basse-Normandie
Lower Normandy is an administrative region of France. It was created in 1956, when the Normandy region was divided into Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy...
France is divided into 27 administrative regions , 22 of which are in Metropolitan France, and five of which are overseas. Corsica is a territorial collectivity , but is considered a region in mainstream usage, and is even shown as such on the INSEE website...
in northwestern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
On January 23, 1969, Le Molay (the old INSEE code was 14434) amalgamated with the old commune of Littry to form into Le Molay-Littry, and uses the old Littry INSEE code 14330.
Le Molay-Littry is a small Normandy town in the Calvados region which has good travel links with neighbouring towns such as Isigny, Bayeux, St-Lo and Balleroy which served it well in the early 17th Century. At this time the town was a local source of coal which made the town a wealthy one - the town still has a mining museum which is open to the public.
The North-West side of the town (which was known simply as Molay before the joining with Littry) houses a large Chateau which has a rich history - Chateau du Molay:
The beautiful Chateau du Molay was built around two and a half centuries ago, in 45 acres (182,108.7 m²) of magnificent wooded grounds.
In 1758, a young Jacques-Jean le Coulteux du Molay (1740–1823), equerry to King Louis XV, and his wife Geneviéve –Sophie le Coulteux de la Noraye (painted below in 1788); built the chateau, his first large residence, in the heart of Normandy’s woodland countryside, close to Rouen, his birthplace. Jacques-Jean was a wealthy and well know Banker, who had one son (Jacques Félix Le Coulteux du Molay was born Paris 29 June 1779 and died in Dijon 1 April 1812) with Genevieve before their divorce. During their time together they also bought the famous Malmaison near Paris – some of those styles are reflected in the Chateau you now stand. Jacques-Jean later married Alexandrine Sophie Pauline Le Couteulx; the couple had three children.
In 1833, Edouard, Count of Chabrol – Crousol, transformed and extended the chateau; giving it the architectural style it has today. The Count of Chabrol – Crousol was a member of the House of Peers, during the reign of Napoleon III. An art collector and avid book – lover, he was the grandfather of the French composer Vincent d’Indy who died in 1931. Edouard was the Prefect of the Seine region of Paris and inaugurated the Palais Brongniart which was built by order of Napoleon Bonaparte to offer a permanent home to the Paris stock exchange in 1826.
At the end of the 19th century, the chateau became the property of the Viellard family.
World War II
There followed a sumptuous period of 50 years up to the dark hours of 1940 when the Chateau was commandeered by the German Army.
The Balleroy and Molay-Littry area was one of the places where the Germans were setting up V-weapon installations, which though never used, is a fascinating and scary story. The Chateau
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...
is one of the places were the weapons were planned to be launched from. The devastating V2
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...
weapon which was the first ever Ballistic Missile and it was estimated that by the later stages of the War—some 100 rockets per day could have launched. The area and the V-weapons project were under the control of Generalleutnant (General) Dietrich Kraiss and his 352nd Static Infantry Division.
Kraiss was a commander of the 90th Infantry Regiment (from September 1939 to March 1941), 168th Infantry Division (from July 1941 to March 1943) and 355th Infantry Division until May 1943. In November 1943 he took command of the 352nd Infantry Division which was in 1944, with six other divisions, located in Normandy in front of the Allied invasion. His 352nd Infantry Division had 7,400 soldiers and kept defensive positions around St. Lô. He was eventually killed in the fighting of Omaha Beach when one of their own mortars hit him blowing him to pieces. Dietrich Kraiss was born on November 16, 1889 in Stuttgart and died on 2 August 1944 – he was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves for his services.
Tournieres is a little village not far from Molay-Littry where U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...
established his first HQ in France code-named Shellburst. The success of the landings on June 5, 1944, led the Red Cross, and later the Marquis, to establish themselves here temporarily. Many important meetings took place at Shellhurst.
After the liberation of the area by Allied Forces in early June, engineers of the Ninth Air Force
The Ninth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....
IX Engineering Command began construction of a combat Advanced Landing Ground
Advanced Landing Ground was the term given to the temporary advance airfields constructed by the Allies during World War II in support of the invasion of Europe...
outside of the town. Declared operational on 25 June, the airfield was designated as "A-9
Le Molay Airfield is an abandoned World War II military airfield, which is located near the commune of Le Molay-Littry in the Basse-Normandie region of northern France....
", it was used by photo-reconnaissance units and various repair and support units until October when it was closed.
A boarding school for girls from Saint–Lo, then a summer camp for Citroen both benefited from its peaceful grounds until 1978. At that time, the chateau was completely renovated and transformed into a three star hotel.
In February 1993, the Chateau du Molay was purchased by Travelbound, an English company owned by TUI Travel
TUI Travel PLC is a FTSE 250 international leisure travel group listed on the London Stock Exchange. It was formed on 3 September 2007 by the merger of First Choice Holidays PLC and the Tourism Division of TUI AG, which owns 55.09% of the company, operating in 180 countries and serving 30m...