Wednesday, August 8, 2012

D-Day Tour Part I

I don't usually go for tours, preferring instead to find my own way, but I knew with our limited time and the size of the area to cover that an organized tour would be our best bet. I found Overlord Tours online and read some great reviews. It isn't inexpensive at 85 Euros per person, but it is well worth the money. It would have been impossible for us to cover the ground we did today (160 km over 10 hours) or to find our way to the various locations. Plus on our own we wouldn't have learned even a tenth of what we heard from Stefan, our tour guide. I highly recommend Overlord Tours (plus I'm heavily borrowing from their website for this post).

The Batteries of Longues Sur-Mer

The Batteries of Longues-Sur-Mer are part of the Atlantic Wall, which was a system of fortifications built by Nazi Germany extending along the Atlantic coast of Western Europe.  There are four battery casements complete with 152mm German naval guns behind the control bunker, and we were able to climb in and around all of them.

Inside the battery looking out. See the
The 152mm guns were trained on the Atlantic across the English channel, able to shoot as far as the horizon. Here's a view from the batteries to the coast where the Allied forces landed.


Omaha Beach

We visited some of the better-defended German positions along Omaha Beach. The tides pushed all of the Allied forces well past their intended drop points, and in many cases the troops ended up facing conditions that they were not trained for.
This beach assault was a difficult assignment, given to US V Corps (General Gerow) whose Force O was made up of the 1st Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division, the Rangers and several attached Units.

View of Omaha Beach from the bluffs of Colleville Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial in Colleville 

To see row upon row of crosses marking the graves of soldiers both named and unnamed gave Kyle and I greater perspective to the loss of life on D-Day.  The cemetery extends over 170 acres on the bluff above Omaha Beach and honours over 9300 American soldiers who lost their lives in Europe during World War II. 
The reflecting pool, looking down the cemetery toward the chapel.
Many soldiers were unidentified, and their crosses read "Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God."
The grave of Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. is in this cemetery.  The names of 1,557 Americans who lost their lives in the Normandy campaign but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial.
Memorial to soldiers lost whose bodies were never recovered.

I have so many more pictures to post - Part I only comprises the first half of our tour. It's already 11pm and the s-l-o-w internet connection at the hotel means I'm going to have to finish this later. We have loved our time in Normandy and I can't wait to show you pictures of the rest of our tour and of Bayeux where we've stayed for the last two nights.

For Part 2 of our D-Day Tour go here.
For Part 3 of our D-Day Tour go here.

Off to Paris tomorrow morning!

As Audrey Hepburn said in the movie 'Sabrina', "Paris is always a good idea."

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