Saturday morning we ate a quick breakfast at our Honfleur hotel and then drove our favorite WWII veteran west to the immaculately groomed American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer near Omaha beach. The sun shone brightly and the channel winds blew insistently through the 9,386 crosses.
First we did the mandatory pictures in front of the crosses with Francis (he wants you to notice how windy it was here):
And then Dick:
Ev and Pietrina wanted nothing to do with all this and ran ahead of us. We caught up with them at the bluff overlooking the beach where they were eavesdropping on the speech of a local guide:
Behind Francis in the picture below, you can see a piece of the large memorial:
Here's a full view of the memorial:
At the center of the memorial is this statue:
At the channel edge of the cemetery, there is an excellent view of the sea with this table map of the invasion:
On either side of the memorial are large maps showing the invasion routes:
Here's a view of the beach between the American Cemetery and the channel:
While in Bayeux, we asked the friendly tourism office clerk which of all the many WWII museums in the area should we visit if we could only see one. She told us to see the Musée du Débarquement in Arromanches. We did and were happy with her choice. While we can't compare the quality of the exhibits with anything other museum's, the interaction between movies, slide shows, excellent models of the harbor, and human guides here was excellent and quite informative.
A plus! WWII veterans get into most of these museums free. Small payback but many places in this area have "Thanks to our liberators" signs up to make these guys feel welcome.
In order to land the massive amounts of equipment and personnel, the British constructed a huge harbor (for a while, the busiest in Europe) out of cement and steel in England and then sunk it in the Thames so the Germans would not see it. On D-Day, they floated it up and tugged it across to Arromanches. (Half the material got lost in transit). The artificial harbor served its makers well until the allies could recapture the major ports -- at which time they scrapped the steel as it was in short supply during the war and left the concrete to the elements here.
Since cement pouring is not such a glamorous activity, this artificial port is virtually unknown to most Americans because of the few, if any movies made about it.
We took no pictures inside the museum except when Francis wanted his picture taken with the jeep named "Linda":
Afterwards we drove up the hill to see a 360 degree theatre showing clips from WWII stills intermixed with Normandy tourism photos. (Yes, we paid for this except for our veteran. At least they weren't going to rip him off).
All was not lost as we took this picture of the vista outside the museum which looks down on the little village of Arromanches, the cliffs of Normandy, and the few cement remnants of the artificial harbor created by the allies.
Haven't seen enough crosses? Six more cemetery pictures are available by clicking here.