Friday, August 1, 2014

France - D-Day Beaches

Hi, The D-Day Beaches of Normandy. This is why I went to France. While the entire trip was great, this was the cap stone, so to speak.

This view of a typical northern Normandy village was taken from the bus.  Unfortunately, it was a gloomy day, but perhaps in a way that was fitting.

Our first stop was a former German gun emplacement that had been rebuilt.  Fields of Rape plants used to produce Canola oil surrounded the area.

The Germans placed 75 mm guns in hardened pill boxes (above and below).

The town of Arromanches- les-Bains, at the center of Gold Beach for the Normandy Landings, was the one of two towns where an artificial port was constructed so that supplies could be brought in more easily.  Old ships were sunk to form a breakwater and then huge concrete caissons floated over from England were assembled into walls and piers to form the harbor.  Above are the remains of two caissons.

After viewing the beach and listening to the guide explain about the harbor we had time to explore the town (above and two below).

Our next stop was the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-mer.  Above is the head of a large statue - The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves. 

Visiting these graves was, and continues to be, a moving experience.  In the Jewish tradition we placed stones on a few of the Jewish markers to indicate that someone visited.  If not for the men buried here, and so many others like them, I almost certainly would not be here today.

We next moved on to St. Laurent-sur-mer to visit Omaha Beach.  This is Les Braves Memorial commemorating the fallen American soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day.

This is a view looking west across the beach to a peninsula with steep cliffs.  This area would be our last stop for the day.

Also at St. Laurent was this marker and tribute to the First Division which landed here (above and below).

Pointe-du-Hoc, where I am standing, is the highest point between Utah Beach, to the left and Omaha Beach, to the right. 

Omaha Beach is on the other side of the peninsula shown above.  The German army fortified the area with concrete gun pits and casements.  Following extensive bombardment and shelling the United States Army Ranger Assault Group scaled these cliffs and captured Point-du-Hoc.

These photos, above and below, show some of the destruction that resulted from Allied bombing and shelling.  This area was left as it was after the war.

We must never forget.

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