Visiting the D-Day beaches in Normandy

On the morning of June 6th 1944, more than 155 000 men from fifteen different countries, 5000 ships and 10 000 aircraft landed in Normandy to liberate France from the German occupation. During 2 months, men fought relentlessly marking the beginning of the end of World War 2.


To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, we have chosen to take you with us to discover the 5 landing beaches of Normandy. Five names engraved in history: Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. Five beaches that marked History.


Utah Beach: the Allied’s build move.

At a striking distance from the port of Cherbourg, Utah Beach, a marshy area, wasn’t initially part of the landing plan. The location was added at the eleventh hour and was a military bold move as Germans were not expecting troops landing there. In the predawn darkness of June 6, thousands of U.S. paratroopers dropped inland behind enemy lines.


Located near a fighter aircraft hangar, Utah Beach is now known for its famous Landing Museum, overlooking the beach. When visiting this surprising museum you will revive the events of 6 June. The highlight of the museum is a B26, one of the last 3 American bombers in the world.


Omaha Beach or Bloody Omaha:


Surrounded by steep cliffs and heavily defended by the Germans, Omaha was the bloodiest of the D-Day beaches, with roughly 2,400 U.S. troops dying, wounded or missing.


Today, the moving American Cemetery with its 70 hectares and 9387 white tombstones engraved with the names of those heroes who lost their lives in the beach close by.


On that morning of 6 June, the events didn’t go as planned. When American troops landed, the enemy's forces were still intact, holding their positions. Due to the low sea, American troops were forced to run more than 500 meters once landed before being able to take shelter. In the morning, 58 tanks set off, but by the end of the day, only three remained.


On that morning of 6 June, the events didn’t go as planned. When American troops landed, the enemy's forces were still intact, holding their positions. Due to the low sea, American troops were forced to run more than 500 meters once landed before being able to take shelter. In the morning, 58 tanks set off, but by the end of the day, only three remained.



As your last stop when visiting Omaha Beach, you can reach the “Pointe du Hoc”. Overlooking the English Channel, there are still remaining of the German bunker used to repel the Allied invasion with heavy artillery. Today, nature has taken over and you can stroll in a magnificent setting.




Gold Beach and the artificial port of Arromanches:


Owing to the direction of the tides, British troops began storming Gold Beach, who are located at the centre of the five beaches, nearly an hour after fighting got underway at Utah and Omaha.

The Germans initially put up robust resistance, but in sharp contrast to Omaha, an earlier aerial bombardment, combined with the firepower of British warships had wiped out much of their defences.



Here you must see the Artificial Port of Arromanches (or Port Mulberry in English) where Allied troops disembarked. An early idea for temporary harbours was sketched by Winston Churchill in a 1915 memo to Lloyd George and at Gold Beach, it proved to be decisive for the fate of the war. Today the harbour remains and is a really impressive place to visit.




Juno Beach


The Canadian and the British troops were the one who arrived at Juno Beach. Allied landing craft once again struggled with rough seas, along with offshore shoals and enemy mines. Upon finally disembarking, Canadian soldiers were then cut down in droves by Germans firing from seaside houses and bunkers.


Today, the Juno Center (Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre) is located in this beach and pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War, of which 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day.


Not far from Juno Beach, the Caen Memorial is a must-see. This history museum tells the whole story of World War 2, the D-Day on June 1944 and the Battle of Normandy.



Sword beach, the Grand Bunker museum and the Merville battery:


This beach is allocated to the Second British Army who landed on it. It is also the only one of the five landing beaches where French commandos disembark. During the battle, the German forces made it all the way to the beach in one location, only to be turned back. The Allies would not be able to unite all five D-Day beaches until June 12.



The “Grand Bunker Museum”, one of the several museums in Sword beach, is a perfectly restored old bunker turned into an impressive museum with its six rooms reconstructing the original atmosphere and the different positions occupied inside the bunker.


The very enriching Merville Battery museum (not recommended for children or sensitive people) was in 1944 a strategic place for the German forces disposing of cannons with a firing range of 20 km and first targeted by the British and French.


In today’s museum, everything has been reconstructed in a casemate using sounds, lights, noises and smells of bombardment taking you back to the D-day.


” Sainte-Mère-Eglise" and the airborne museum:



The village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise is known thanks to a certain John Steele, an American paratrooper landed on the roof of the Church after being hit in the foot. He pretended to be dead to save his life but was detained by the Germans. Three days after he was able to flee and join the Allied forces. Today, a mannequin representing this soldier is still on the bell tower of the church.


In Sainte-Mère-Eglise, you can visit the Airborne Museum who is dedicated to the memory of paratroopers of the Airborne Divisions of the United States Army who parachuted into Normandy on the night of June 5 and 6, 1944.





Watch and archive video of the D-Day Normandy Landings (SkyNews)




#2WW #VEDay #Normandy #History #travelDestinations

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