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The beaches of Normandy, famous World War II battlesite that sparked the USA’s big push into Europe

Posted by on November 22, 2018

The beaches of Normandy, France… where thousands bled and died during the D-Day invasion during World War II. It’s now considered one of the most famous World War II battlefields that many movies, books, comics, and video games are based on this location. The D-Day invasions are quite often depicted as an important event during World War II in the European campaign as it opened up the second European front since the Allies first attacked in the south particularly Italy and Africa. A lot of preparation, especially with transportation and logistics, were made so complete coordination would be made and fit in the grand scheme of maneuver, firepower, and mass effect of taking back France from Germany. That’s why I think the beaches of Normandy are great to visit then you understand how difficult it was to begin the second European front which was why UK Prime Minister at the time, Winston Churchill, wanted to delay this before building. I am sure Churchill was in his war rooms when the planning and execution for this day finally came.

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One thing that came quickly and easily was that the Norman coastline is not just all beaches but rather cliffs overseeing steep drops into the ocean. You cannot launch a ground assault through this way at all.

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The German occupiers were smart to dig in should any invader come their way.

old artillery bunker fort post normandy

The German military back then knew that an invasion was coming so they made their own preparations by installing big guns to scare off the Allies.

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Ignoring the people and roads, look at the potholes! You can be sure that the Allies bombed the beaches as much as they could to soften the targets for the landings to take place.

long stone memorial

Another Normandy memorial that commemorates the June 6th invasion.

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Here’s a picture I took of the Normandy landing. 5 beaches were actually used in the invasion: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. All were invaded at the same time to over-mass the Germans.

One of the things once I was on the ground was the tall ocean cliffs throughout the Norman province. There is no way troops would be able to climb those steep cliffs with equipment. So it made it very important that the landings had to be on beaches with direct access to roads. By securing the beach-heads through the landings and airborne-dropped troops, the tanks, supply lines, and more troops could be rolled onto the mainland where it would then become a race towards Berlin until the Germans counterattacked at Bastogne.

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While the bombs were being launched and paratroopers landing, boats raced towards the shore full of men and equipment in the attempt to overload and overwhelm the German occupiers. This is one of the places where a landing could take place compared to the rough cliffs earlier.

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An old tank that probably broke down or got partially destroyed but finding its home as a memorial piece.

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That’s me on Omaha Beach but many years after the actual D-Day landings. They built a memorial right into the beach.

side carving memorial

There is another memorial there as well but it was bit more elaborate as this had a carving into the side of it.

Thanks to the efforts of many, a new visitors center and a little bit sprucing up the cemetery helped make the Normandy American Cemetery one of the best cemeteries out there to go see. There are thousand interned there but like in every US military cemetery such as the one in Luxembourg where General Patton was buried, there is always someone of importance. the two people that I wanted to see were the Roosevelts: Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and Quentin Roosevelt, both whom were sons of the great President Theodore Roosevelt. Quentin was actually KIA (killed in action) back in World War I when he was a fighter pilot on the Allies side and was initially buried elsewhere before they moved his remains to be buried next to his brother, Theodore Sr., who himself was well accomplished as a soldier and officer. He had served quite a long time in the military not only in World War I but also in World War II where Theodore Jr. was the only General on ground to make the D-Day landings and also survived! Many including the higher echelons did not think he was going to live through the chaos of Normandy but he made it as he could before the Minister of Death with his scythe came for him in the form of a heart attack. Theodore Jr. also won the Medal of Honor as well just like his father, Theodore Sr. did with the Rough Riders.

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This part of the Normandy cemetery called the Garden of the Missing due to the fact that some of the soldiers, sailors, civilians were never found because they were completed obliterated or whatever happened to them.

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General area of the Normandy American Cemetery.

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This is where the famous white rows and rows of crosses signifying soldiers who gave their lives for the D-Day landings. It was not an easy decision to be made by senior leadership knowing that this had to be done.

 

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Originally buried in another part of France, Quentin Roosevelt’s grave was moved to this cemetery in Normandy. He was his father’s favorite that upon hearing news that Quentin died, Theodore Roosevelt never really got over it and eventually passed away a short time after.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr grave tombo General one star rank famous dday landing wave

Due to having his famous father’s name, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. had huge shoes, pants, shirts, and a big club to fill in. Probably in his father’s eyes, he did not match up to him but over time, Theodore Jr. did quite well making it to Brigadier General and won a Medal of Honor posthumously (like his father did), especially after what he did: be the only General to be on the ground when the D-Day landings happened.

Just note that there are a lot of museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area that even some of the museums are privately owned as people would dig up WWII equipment over time and stockpile it into a building to preserve it and get some tourists in as well. It’s almost like Bastogne where locals would have their own personal libraries and museums that their families in earlier generations picked up over time. Note that if you plan on visiting the Normandy beaches around D-Day (06 June), you need to book your trip very early because the place becomes overcrowded and crawling with tourists who show up there for the D-Day Landing Ceremonies every year.

I recommend showing up in April-May or late August-September as the better times to show up when the weather is not so hot or cold and there aren’t that MANY tourists around. It’s also best to take a tour up north to the French northern coast because of the sheer amount of road tolls that you have to pay in France. For some weird, the French like to tax people for using their roads and highways that even in the past meaning hundreds of years ago, the people would have to pay tax for living by a royal road AND were also expected to fix and maintain them. Nothing’s changed since then.