Normandy has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. On top of all the popular mediums (film, TV, etc.), I’ve also studied a lot about WWII in high school, university, and beyond. While I’ve seen Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold, and Juno Beaches too many times to count, actually being there is something very different.
I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a holiday home a five minute walk from Omaha Beach, so that in itself was incredible. The whole drive in you’re reminded of what occurred there in 1944. Museums, monuments, markers, flags, old military equipment, and even large pictures of what buildings looked like in 1944 line the roads.
While from the initial views it looks like any other beach, but the closer you look you see things like in the picture above. I even heard stories from my friend of finding bullets, spent shells, and even bones and helmets emerging from the sand and dunes. Truly incredible.
(Gun emplacement, Pointe du Hoc)
In between Omaha and Utah is Pointe du Hoc, which is where the Germans put in a series of bunkers and artillery to cover the beaches. The story of the commandos who climbed up to assault the position is well worth the research, and too in-depth to get into here. It was incredible to see the bunkers still standing, but I was more taken aback by the crater holes. They left them in place, and to see the depth of them is quite incredible.
On Saturday we went up to the cemetery, which was very somber and really made the full impact of the whole thing. The facilities are quite amazing, mixing information about the assault and honoring the dead. While we had limited time in the museum, it was closing, but the artifacts and exhibits were great, and they had a lot of interactive displays.
It was definitely one of the more unique trips I have ever been on. Made some new friends, and enjoyed a great weekend at the beach. However, it was mixed in with some incredible trips to historical sites, and some somber moments, honoring those who sacrificed everything. I could have spent two weeks out there seeing everything.