On the Beaches

Roy went off this morning to explore the ramparts of Saint-Lo, while Bernice had a bit of a lie in (she wanted to finish her book).

wallLooking down on the main road into the city centre

camping 1Looking across to where we spent the night, alongside the river on the right hand side behind the trees.

vanOur campervan just shows

towerthe only tower of the ramparts still standing

 curved wall  The cathedral has a distinct curve

repairedand has been repaired in the front after the ravages of war

gargoyleFinally a gargoyle at work!!!!

marketEarly morning fruit and fish market

memorialMemorial to French Maquis and civilians killed or deported by the Nazis.paintedPainted decoration of a building.

While touring the ramparts I noticed several instances of a particular style of topiary.  In this case shrubs had been trimmed in cubic patterns

topiary 4The first group seen

topiary 2The same group from a different angle

topiary 1These ones are in training

topiary 3and this is almost chessboard like in it’s pattern.

Then we were off to the Normandy Beaches.  First stop was to be Saint Marie-du-Mont and the museum before heading out to Utah Beach.  As usual along the way we were side tracked when we spotted the Museum at Dead Man’s Corner.

dead mans

This house was a strategic Command Post for the German Paratroopers, then was taken by the 101st American Paratroop Regiment and used as their headquarters during the attack on Caretan. It was named by the fact that there was an American tank destroyed at the cross roads where the house was situated and the tank commander was still in the tank turret for some days.  The museum is dedicated to the 101st  Paratroop Regiment and their German Paratroop and SS opposition.  It  was a very very good museum, with amazing original  pieces  such as maps, uniforms, equipment, dog tags etc.   A very moving and well set out museum within the original house.

German HQGerman headquarters personnel

airborne101st paratroop uniform

richard winterFor those of you familiar with Band of Brothers this is one of Richard Winters original uniform shirts.  They also have notebooks and other items from other members of the Band of Brothers group.

From there it was on to Utah Beach, unfortunately the museum at Saint Marie was closed for the season so it was onto the beach.

utah beachUtah beach

utah memorialThe memorial at Utah beach

utah As if it needed a label

Then on to Omaha Beach, however along the way we got side tracked, again,  stopping at La Pointe du Hoc.  This was the location of the landing of the 2nd Ranger Group who scaled the cliffs and destroyed the gun emplacements at the top which were able to enfilade both Utah and Omaha beaches.  

We paused for lunch, it being 2:30 before approaching the site.   After another simple but delicious lunch we headed off for a walk to find out all about this beach area. 

The area was very heavily shelled by the navy before the Rangers landed.  Not withstanding the bombardment the Germans were able to effect a very intense defence as the landing were delayed by twenty minutes after the end of the barrage.  There were an extreme number of crater holes from the shelling and it was hard to perceive how any defence could have been mounted.

  craters 1Looking across the terrain with the craters clearly evident

shell cratersEven more evident in this shot taken from on top of a German gun emplacement

cratersThis is an example of how closely cratered the ground was

size 2and this gives an idea of size of the craters

sizeAs  does this


gunplaceGerman gun emplacement still reasonably whole even after the barrage and the intense fighting that followed.

From here it was onto Omaha Beach.  Again a huge flat expanse of beach, and it just so happened that as we were there, a large flotilla of local fishing boats were just offshore.  What with the dark ominous clouds overhead, one could only imagine what it would have been like on D-Day.

 peaceThis Peace Memorial statue was erected on the approach road to Omaha Beach.     

Omaha beach was the site of one of the artificial harbours created to allow Allied men and equipment to be landed following the initial assault.

caisonThe remains of one of the original caisons that formed an anchor point for the Mulberry harbour

mulberyThis remnant of a Mulberry harbour was mounted just before the beach.  Somewhat like a Bailey bridge this section was supported on caisons and concrete laden sunken ships.

concreteThe remnants of a concrete hulk with the fishing fleet in the background.

Now it was decision time as to where to head to stay for the night.  According to our trusty books, Bayeux did not have a camp ground open, and its camper parking area had no power facilities.  So it was a choice between Arromanches or further along to Benouville if that one did not take our fancy, as they both supposedly had power.  Arromanches proved to be suitable as it had the usual parking facility and we could connect to the power for 2Euro for 60 minutes worth of power.  At least one, if not two lots of power would do us for the night and give us a chance to recharge all the equipment.

One Response to “On the Beaches”

  1. D-Day | The Vannini's Manoeuvres Says:

    […] remember all too well our visit to this region in France in November 2010; St Lo, Omaha Beach, Utah beach, Sword, Gold and Juno Beaches, Arromanches, Bayeux, Caen, Benouville, Grenville Pegasus and the […]

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