This view is from Pointe du Hoc looking west toward Utah Beach…rangers climbed these cliffs to capture German gun emplacements.
The whole idea behind our river cruise was to experience Normandy…the landings from 1944. There is no way to describe this from “seeing” it and the photos of it. Being here allows you to experience the beauty of the countryside, which can be seen as very “peaceful” now, as it was then..a farming community nearby the sea. But, the “hell” of war is explained in many moving ways here…worth the visit to gain the appreciation of the history.
The reverence at the American Cemetery is provided by an immense effort of caring for the place…although managed by Americans, it is French (still and forever grateful French) who provide the care.
The tide was full at Omaha Beach for us that day, but the fog was rolling in (despite weather that was sunny and mid-70’s just a hundred yards away…just like the morning of the 6th of June 1944). Here are Dick & Chris Oliver, spellbound by the thoughts of the men landing and the battle here.
Although we concentrated on the American landing, there are signs of the UK and Canadian part of this time on Normandy’s beaches and for the French resistance and their role in making the idea a success.
We first saw the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc (pictured behind the day’s title page)….and absorbed the idea of the earliest landing of that day.
As, I mentioned, it seems to be a place of great peace…look at the cliffs though. Imagine the climb under enemy fire.
Then, we drove to the middle of the beach area – and saw Arromanches – the bay where they constructed a huge harbor in just a couple of weeks. This place then received 2 million fighting men and all the equipment needed to fight the battles of Normandy, then the rest of France…until such time as regular Atlantic harbors could be secured (Le Havre and Cherbourg, also in Normandy.
Here are pieces kept as memorials to this harbor – 70+ years in the sea. This is the east end of the new floating harbor.
Almost a mile west completes the Allies’ new harbor, the pieces had been dragged over from England through the night and day of D-day and was completed as a huge semi-circle off this beach at Arromanches in just a couple of weeks.
Here’s Nancy looking at the place…it’s now a beach resort as well as a monument. Not much beach action today in the fog.
On to Omaha Beach next….the fog really had come in this day. One of our group from the Avalon Waterways tour is going to the beach to collect some sand.
And, then, the American Cemetery is our day’s final destination. Every inch of this place will move you to tears and emotions about the enormity of this whole seacoast in the world’s history. Certainly all of our lives have been possible because of this one enormous battle in Normandy.
“This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed.”
You can see below just how the fog had moved in on the north (English Channel) breezes. And the maps show where we were today – Pointe du Hoc between Omaha and Utah beaches, where to Americans concentrated plus Arromanches, where the Allies collaborated as never before on building the supply lines harbor. And, the flags tell the story of the most powerful team ever assembled who ultimately prevailed together.
This is a visit worth the trip for sure. Thanks to all of those who made this effort for us.