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nuthatch | profile | all galleries >> France >> Normandy and D-Day Beaches tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Normandy and D-Day Beaches

A visit with our friend Tom to several of the D-Day landing beaches, memorials, cemeteries, and museums in Normandy.
our trip starts in historic Bayeux...
our trip starts in historic Bayeux...
...home of the famous tapestry
...home of the famous tapestry
historic houses and buildings abound
historic houses and buildings abound
around every corner is something ancient...
around every corner is something ancient...
...here, a gallo-roman wall beneath the ground
...here, a gallo-roman wall beneath the ground
but there are also many reminders of WWII
but there are also many reminders of WWII
at the romanesque-gothic cathedral...
at the romanesque-gothic cathedral...
...vestiges of structure date from the 12th to 15th centuries
...vestiges of structure date from the 12th to 15th centuries
inside, memorials to France's WWI dead and the British troops who fought here in 1944
inside, memorials to France's WWI dead and the British troops who fought here in 1944
delicate stone reliefs distract us...
delicate stone reliefs distract us...
...and even remind us of the opposite of war
...and even remind us of the opposite of war
time for a stroll through the old city streets
time for a stroll through the old city streets
it seems pretty quiet...
it seems pretty quiet...
...but at least a few citizens are on watch
...but at least a few citizens are on watch
here's the park where deGaulle spoke to the French people soon after D-Day
here's the park where deGaulle spoke to the French people soon after D-Day
this is one of many British military cemeteries in Normandy
this is one of many British military cemeteries in Normandy
here, more than 4500 British and Commonwealth soldiers were buried...
here, more than 4500 British and Commonwealth soldiers were buried...
...along with a smaller number of Allies and Germans...
...along with a smaller number of Allies and Germans...
heading back into town at dusk...
heading back into town at dusk...
...it's pretty easy to keep our bearings
...it's pretty easy to keep our bearings
even after dark, getting around on foot is easy
even after dark, getting around on foot is easy
and if we get lost, there are helpful guides
and if we get lost, there are helpful guides
the next day, we head first to Juno Beach near Courseulles-sur-Mer...
the next day, we head first to Juno Beach near Courseulles-sur-Mer...
...where Canadian and British troops fought to take or destroy the guns in the eastern half of the invasion
...where Canadian and British troops fought to take or destroy the guns in the eastern half of the invasion
then we head west to Longues-sur-Mer...
then we head west to Longues-sur-Mer...
...where a battery of several guns rises out of the mist
...where a battery of several guns rises out of the mist
Tom stands over 6ft; these guns were huge
Tom stands over 6ft; these guns were huge
and in the surrounding area, underground communications boxes are still here
and in the surrounding area, underground communications boxes are still here
from Longues, we drive to the American military cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer
from Longues, we drive to the American military cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer
about 40% of the American troops who fell in Normandy on D-Day and the difficult weeks which followed are gathered here
about 40% of the American troops who fell in Normandy on D-Day and the difficult weeks which followed are gathered here
the view out to Omaha Beach from the cemetery is foggy and quiet today
the view out to Omaha Beach from the cemetery is foggy and quiet today
more than 9000 graves are here...
more than 9000 graves are here...
...and a memorial for more than 1500 forever missing
...and a memorial for more than 1500 forever missing
many visitors leave markers...
many visitors leave markers...
a small chapel stands at the center of the site
a small chapel stands at the center of the site
the ceiling mosaic depicts America sending a soldier ready to fight...
the ceiling mosaic depicts America sending a soldier ready to fight...
...and France embracing a fallen one
...and France embracing a fallen one
we visit Omaha Beach and then walk the battle-scarred bluff above Pointe du Hoc
we visit Omaha Beach and then walk the battle-scarred bluff above Pointe du Hoc
the Pointe was the site of a fierce cliff-face battle on D-Day...
the Pointe was the site of a fierce cliff-face battle on D-Day...
...for the capture of these gun placements
...for the capture of these gun placements
from the installation...
from the installation...
...the view over the Pointe and across the channel is long...
...the view over the Pointe and across the channel is long...
...and the guns would have had wide coverage of the coastline
...and the guns would have had wide coverage of the coastline
our day ends at the German military cemetery near La Cambe
our day ends at the German military cemetery near La Cambe
over 20,000 soldiers lie here, killed in Normandy on and after D-Day
over 20,000 soldiers lie here, killed in Normandy on and after D-Day
some soldiers had yet to reach 18 years; others remain unidentified
some soldiers had yet to reach 18 years; others remain unidentified
night falls as we depart
night falls as we depart
the next day, we head for Utah Beach and its museum and memorials near La Madeleine
the next day, we head for Utah Beach and its museum and memorials near La Madeleine
in the museum, some of the large equipment used in the landing
in the museum, some of the large equipment used in the landing
this nasty little thing was a remote-controlled mobile bomb
this nasty little thing was a remote-controlled mobile bomb
French-language information dropped by American planes to encourage people in the occupied towns
French-language information dropped by American planes to encourage people in the occupied towns
detailed photos of all the landing sites were prepared in advance via dangerous spy missions
detailed photos of all the landing sites were prepared in advance via dangerous spy missions
here's a display on the FAFL, French air forces which also supported the D-Day landings
here's a display on the FAFL, French air forces which also supported the D-Day landings
here's some incentive to get the war over ASAP
here's some incentive to get the war over ASAP
these dresses were made for young French girls from US parachute cloth, and worn for celebrations one year after D-Day
these dresses were made for young French girls from US parachute cloth, and worn for celebrations one year after D-Day
a Sherman tank at the museum site
a Sherman tank at the museum site
'kilometer zero' at the Utah Beach landing site: start of the 1944 Liberty Way
'kilometer zero' at the Utah Beach landing site: start of the 1944 Liberty Way
the Utah Beach memorial stands on the site of a captured gun placement, turned Allied communications post
the Utah Beach memorial stands on the site of a captured gun placement, turned Allied communications post
everywhere in Normandy, French gratitude to American and Allied troops was and remains very strong
everywhere in Normandy, French gratitude to American and Allied troops was and remains very strong
Utah Beach is rather placid now
Utah Beach is rather placid now
the small town of Ste-Marie-du-Mont was a complex battle site for paratroopers following D-Day
the small town of Ste-Marie-du-Mont was a complex battle site for paratroopers following D-Day
today the town square remembers the time with many markers
today the town square remembers the time with many markers
every other house seems to have its own story
every other house seems to have its own story
this water fountain was used as shelter by a US marksman during the fight for the town
this water fountain was used as shelter by a US marksman during the fight for the town
even with its long history, this town remembers its liberation most
even with its long history, this town remembers its liberation most
nearby Ste-Mère-Église was also a target for paratroopers...
nearby Ste-Mère-Église was also a target for paratroopers...
...one of whom got stuck for a few hours
...one of whom got stuck for a few hours
the days of battle are remembered in the church windows
the days of battle are remembered in the church windows
looking at old photos around town...
looking at old photos around town...
...it's not hard to see the town as soldiers did...
...it's not hard to see the town as soldiers did...
...and we wonder what other stories these streets know...
...and we wonder what other stories these streets know...
...or for that matter, all the towns on the Cherbourg peninsula
...or for that matter, all the towns on the Cherbourg peninsula
the next day, the sky is clearer and we return to Arromanches near Gold Beach
the next day, the sky is clearer and we return to Arromanches near Gold Beach
there are still relics of the 'Mulberries' which made up the artificial harbor of Port Winston
there are still relics of the 'Mulberries' which made up the artificial harbor of Port Winston
scars and fragments of war structures remain even up on this cliff
scars and fragments of war structures remain even up on this cliff
down in the town, the history museum has pieces of machinery...
down in the town, the history museum has pieces of machinery...
...and pier parts brought from England in June 1944
...and pier parts brought from England in June 1944
pier pontoons and other hulks dot the beach and harbor
pier pontoons and other hulks dot the beach and harbor
heading southwest toward Bretagne, we stop at the German ossuary near Huisnes-sur-Mer
heading southwest toward Bretagne, we stop at the German ossuary near Huisnes-sur-Mer
the remains of some 12,000 WWII soldiers were brought here from around France
the remains of some 12,000 WWII soldiers were brought here from around France
still too foggy to see Mont St. Michel
still too foggy to see Mont St. Michel
we'll end our trip at the Caen Memorial and Peace Center
we'll end our trip at the Caen Memorial and Peace Center
the museum starts its story with the end of WWI and the build-up into WWII
the museum starts its story with the end of WWI and the build-up into WWII
it of course covers the usual suspects...
it of course covers the usual suspects...
...but branches to discuss economic pressures, collaboration in all forms...
...but branches to discuss economic pressures, collaboration in all forms...
...resistance in many forms...
...resistance in many forms...
...and the response to resistance around Europe...
...and the response to resistance around Europe...
...propaganda by all involved governments...
...propaganda by all involved governments...
...extermination of Jews...
...extermination of Jews...
...and Roms...
...and Roms...
...and communists
...and communists
the D-Day story is told again, with some new images and info for us
the D-Day story is told again, with some new images and info for us
1945 is marked by a study of destroyed cities...
1945 is marked by a study of destroyed cities...
...including London...
...including London...
...and Caen, where the memorial is now
...and Caen, where the memorial is now
it's a topic much too large for one visit...
it's a topic much too large for one visit...
panorama of the American military cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer
panorama of the American military cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer