"" Writer's Wanderings: A Look Back to Normandy

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Look Back to Normandy

[One of our best remembered trips from 2009]

One of the main objectives for our riverboat trip on the Seine was to be able to see the beaches at Normandy where the landing of American, British, and Canadian troops was the turning point in WWII. After our arrival in Le Havre and over-night stay aboard the Viking Seine, we joined the other passengers on buses for the trip west to the beaches.

The first stop was the Gold Beach where the British came ashore. There is a museum there with a movie and slide show that explains the building of the artificial harbor that allowed ships to bring and unload the supplies and ammunition needed for the troops. Existing harbors were all under German control so this was the only way to safely supply the troops.

It was an amazing engineering project. There were two harbors built, one American and one British, but only the British one survived due to a huge storm that hit the coast just about the same time as the landing of the troops.

Large concrete structures were made in England and floated over to the coast of France when it was time to put them together. They formed the break wall and then eventually floating docks were used to lay “roadways” that allowed for tanks and jeeps to be off loaded and driven to shore.

After spending some time at the museum and beach area, we ate at a restaurant called June 6 and then boarded the buses again for the ride to the American cemetery. As expected, the cemetery is a deeply reflective experience rather you have a direct connection to those buried there or not. Over 9,000 graves dot the landscape, all laid out in neat military order. Their sacrifice and the service of their fellow GIs stopped one of the largest threats to freedom the world has ever faced.

Moving on, we next visited Omaha beach, one of two beaches where American soldiers came ashore. While the beach area was flat, the soldiers were at a disadvantage because of the cliff areas from which the enemy could position themselves to fire down at those below. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to spill out of a landing vehicle and into a maelstrom of gunfire.

Our last stop was atop a cliff area where the German bunkers were. There were several guns positioned there at one time which could swivel and cover both the Omaha and Utah beaches. The position was bombed as the Allied assault began and the craters you see in my picture are from those bombs.

The next time the Honor Guard passes at the parade with our flag or the Star Spangled Banner is played, stand in remembrance and thankfulness for the freedom you have to enjoy your parade and/or your sports event. Freedom is fragile.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...