|Our guide was Anne Marie and our bus driver, Benny, looked like Chef Robert Irvine from the Food Network.Today was a bus trip to the beaches of Normandy. We drove from Rouen to Caen passed Juno Beach where the Canadians came ashore. 924 soldiers were killed on this 3 mile stretch of beach.Went to Gold Beach in Arromanches where 30,000 British came ashore. This stretch of beach is 6 miles and here we could see some of the remains of the mulberries used to establish the port that was built to bring in supplies. We visited the D-Day Museum where a short film was shown of the construction of the concrete port in a matter of days. 15 old ships were sunk to make the break water. 23 of the concrete pontoons remain. They were assembled in England and transferred here. An amazing feat!
This is where the cliffs start upon which the German built their bunkers. The towns were destroyed and have been reconstructed. A few villas were saved by the Germans to house their troops.
The way to Omaha Beach, one of the places the US came ashore, was the same route the soldiers took. Then it was a narrow dirt road, now it is paved. We stopped at Battery de Longes, where there are remains of some of the German Bunkers. There were 12,000 of these large bunkers built along the coastline from Spain to Norway (excluding the neutral coastline of Sweden). These bunkers re made in Germany and assembled on site by Russian prisoners.
We then went to the Normandy American Cemetery. A short ceremony with the playing odd the US National Anthem followed by Taps and a French citizen thanking the Americans for giving of their family members to save them from the Nazi's so she could have her freedom today. We then walked among the graves. An emotionally draining experience. There are 9,387 graves, some of which are unknown; 9,238 are marked with white Lasa marble crosses, 149 with Stars of David. There is also The Garden of the Missing; stone tablets engraved with the names of 1,557 missing in action. The mosaic ceiling the chapel depicts America blessing her sons as they leave by sea and air, and a grateful France bestowing a laurel wreath upon the American dead.
Our final stop was to head down to Omaha Beach and walk to the memorial there.