The D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy, France
A poignant time for reflection
One of the reasons Gary and I wanted to return to Normandy, was to visit the D-Day Landing Beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno & Sword and pay our respects along the way.
The Normandy Landing beaches
My grandfather had been fighting in North Africa & Italy during the Second World War with the 8th Army, and I am eternally grateful that my 'Pop' survived, but for him, as he got older the memories became more painful.
Stories of his recently made friends 'for life' from a Welsh battalion singing “Land of My Fathers” was unbelievably moving. I still remember exactly when & where we were sitting when he told us of the horrific atrocities that befell them.
Peace at last - Bayeux Commonwealth Cemetery
Our journey started at Pegasus Bridge the east of the D-Day Landing Beaches.
This was where soldiers first set foot on Normandy soil, late on 5th to 6th June 1944 and where Operation Overlord began.
Monument to Pegasus Bridge
Bénouville Bridge was captured within 10 minutes by the 6th Airborne Division and as a tribute to the British Troops became known as Pegasus Bridge. The original bridge is a memorial in the museum.
Pegasus Bridge in its new home
What was very encouraging to see was the number of families here, parents ensuring that their children also learn, and remember, why we have the freedom we do today.
Discover more of Normandy on a road trip, you'll be amazed how easy it is to tour around by car with. Like us you can create your own adventure and visit Caen, Rouen, Alençon, Honfleur, Giverny, the ruins of Jumièges Abbey, Beuvron-en-Auge and Mont Saint-Michel.
Take a peek at the offers at Rental Cars, they cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.
Monument at Sword Beach
Monument to the fallen - Sword Beach
As we headed west along the Normandy coastline, there are memorials all along the way and strong reminders of the past.
A pill box - Juno beach
Juno Beach was the point of entry for the Canadians, and a very hard battle was fought here, with them losing 50% of their forces in the first hour of assault.
The cross at Juno Beach
Cosy's Bunker - Juno Beach
The bay at Arromanches
Remnants of the Mulberry harbour - Arromanches
As Gary & I stand high above the bay, we see the magnitude of the artificial Mulberry harbour that was created in a 5-mile arc. In 100 days, the new “Port Winston” landed 220,000 soldiers, 39,000 vehicles and 530,000 tons of supplies, amazing!!!
The Mulberry harbour - Arromanches
Bayeux War cemetery
Founded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Bayeux cemetery is the last resting place for over 4,000 soldiers. Amongst the manicured graves are not only British troops but also Polish, Russian, Italian, Czech & French.
Their name liveth for evermore - Bayeux
Portland headstones at the cemetery in Bayeux
Polish and Russian Allies remembered - Bayeux
An Aircrew - together - Bayeux
The coastline at Omaha Beach
Normandy American cemetery
Frank D Peregory - Medal of Honor, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
When you see lying before you, row after row, after row, of symmetrical white crosses, the magnitude of the ultimate sacrifice that our loved ones undertook, stops you in your tracks.
It is unbelievably moving, standing in front of the headstones of 9,387 fallen soldiers.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves - Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
It's the little things
You'll notice the British & Americans headstones differ in the person they remember.
The British record
Regiment emblem, Service number, Rank, Initials & surname, Regiment, Date of death, Age at death
The Americans record
First name, initials & surname, Rank, Regiment, Home State, Date of death
No Names, No Remains
The Omaha Beach D-Day Memorial
To those who have no grave - Bayeux
A useful guide
We love visiting France and each region so different from one another. I find the DK Eyewitness Guides really helpful in planning a trip and so often find interesting little snippets of info.
Take a peek at this revised Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide and see what you can discover.
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Inspired to visit the Normandy Beaches?
We visited from Caen, but Bayeux would make an equally attractive base to explore the area.
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