We were on the road early because we had a full day ahead of us.
Today we visited visited some of the Normandy beaches. We visited this area on a trip in 2019 and spent a lot of time at all of the D-Day beaches. This time it was just a day trip but it was worth visiting again. A second visit gave us new experiences and insights.
Our first stop was Pointe Du Hoc. Pointe Du Hoc had cliffs(100-120 feet high) that overlooked the English Channel and Omaha Beach.
During WWII this area was a stronghold of the Germans. On June 6, 1944 the US Army Rangers scaled the cliffs to capture this position. You could see remains of German bunkers and machine gun posts.
The French erected this monument on a cliff here to honor the American Second Ranger Battalion.
On the center of Omaha Beach there were two memorials. On the left was the Les Braves which consisted of three elements: 1. the Wings of Hope, 2. Rise, Freedom, and 3. The Wings of Fraternity. On the right was a stone monument to the Allies.
We also saw a memorial for the 29th Division at Omaha Beach of a soldier carrying a wounded comrade on D-day.
The National Guard Association memorial was important to some of our veterans who served with the National Guard more recently. The National Guard memorial was also located at Omaha beach on top of a German bunker! It commemorated the actions of the National Guard during WWII.
After Omaha Beach we visited the Normandy American Cemetery that overlooked Omaha Beach.
The cemetery was dedicated in 1956 and was located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. It was built on the temporary American St. Laurent cemetery. It was established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and was the first American cemetery on European soil in WWII. The cemetery covered 172 1/2 acres and contained the graves of 9,837 military dead. Most of them lost their lives on the D-Day landings. The cemetery also had a wall of the missing with 1,557 names inscribed on it. A rosette marked by a name meant they were recovered and identified.
The statue by Donald De Lue was made from bronze and was called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves”.
Across from the statue one of our travelers in our group was a retired Major General and she presented the veterans in our group with a challenge coin. She also presented those that served prior to 1973 with a coin.
This time capsule was buried on June 6, 1969 and will be opened on the 100th anniversary of the allied landings along the coast of Normandy.
Our lunch was served at the L’Albatros Restaurant that was part of the Omaha Beach Golf Club. The La Mer course had each hole named after a liberating American veteran or famous battle. We enjoyed the lunch that was served.
After lunch we visited the new D-Day museum located in Arromanches’ seafront. It was built on the geographical center of the D-Day landing beaches. This museum focused on the D-Day Landings!
We were interested in the Mulberry Harbor and the museum explained it well. Right after D-Day the beach of Arromanches one of two Mulberry harbors was created. It was quite an engineering feat. The pieces to build the harbor were carried over from Britain. This allowed the heavy equipment to be unloaded. Below were models that showed how the harbor would work.
We saw remnants on land and some that were left out from the beach area.
On our way back to the riverboat we passed the Eisenhower roundabout in Bayeux, France. In the center of the roundabout is a memorial dedicated to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
When we returned back to the riverboat we had a little time to walk into the town of Caudebec-en-Caux.
In 1940, the Germans wanted to bomb the ferries crossing the river but missed and instead hit cars waiting to cross on the ferry. The cars caught on fire and the fire spread quickly and 80% of the town was destroyed because most of the buildings and homes were made of wood. The Church of Notre-Dame of Caudebec-en-Caux survived. It dated from the 15th and 16th century.
The church was listed as a historic monument since 1840. The Gothic style had many decorative carvings on the outside of the church. We were unable to visit inside because it was late in the day and all the doors were locked.
The sun was setting so we headed back to our riverboat.