Normandy Beaches

In Bayeux, France we began our tour of the Normandy beaches and the WWII D-Day points of interest. We had taken a train from Paris the previous day to Bayeux. What a delightful town and our hotel, Novotel, was wonderful.

Our tour began with a solemn visit to La Cambe, a German war cemetery. It was a chance to learn about the state of the Nazi military at the time and how they care for their war dead.

Another stop that morning was this church which had been used as an aid station or field hospital. Two medics, paratroopers, set it up. The village changed hands multiple times the first day, so both American and German troops were cared for, equally. I was amazed that given the two medics, with little training, cared for 80 men and only lost 2.

Utah beach was a moving experience. The memorials, museum and grounds are well cared for to share the story of D-Day.

We had lunch at Cafe Phillipe. Simple meal with our tour guide and surrounded by WWII memorabilia.

Ste Mere Eglise was our next stop. Beautiful church, even with the manikin of a US paratrooper hanging from the steeple. This was an important village because of its geography and the roads that crossed here. Also a memorable setting for several WWII movies.

We gained more perspective on the Nazi military and their preparations to defend against our invasion when we visited Pointe DuHoc. American Rangers were tasked with scaling the 100+ foot cliffs to take this well protected artillery fortification. The operation hit many obstacles and lost many men, only to find no guns in the bunkers. Tragic loss of life.

The last beach we visited was Omaha beach. Unlike Utah Beach, it was very active with sunbathers and families enjoying the water. Some of the WWII docks used to bring material to support the war effort are still visible. Dramatic reminders of another time.

Last stop of the day was the Normandy American Cemetery. These neatly arranged headstones are placed on a first come basis. Regardless of race or rank, gender or politics, they have been laid to rest. Daily taps is played and daily the USA flag is raised and lowered. The Memorial at this cemetery is the inspiration for the WWII memorial on the National Mall in DC that Joseph and I have visited.