Francis 56 years later
If he were under one of these crosses, most of you wouldn't be reading this.

27 May 2000

The American Cemetery and the Arromanches beach

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.

Francis during WWII
Here's what he looked like last time he was in the area

First we did the mandatory pictures in front of the crosses with Francis (he wants you to notice how windy it was here):

Frances with the crosses

And then Dick:

Dick with the many crosses he bears

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:

Ev and Pietrina

The Memorial

Behind Francis in the picture below, you can see a piece of the large memorial:

More crosses

Here's a full view of the memorial:

War 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:

map of the invasion

On either side of the memorial are large maps showing the invasion routes:

wall maps

Over the cliff

Here's a view of the beach between the American Cemetery and the channel:

Beach view

Musee du Debarquement in Arromanches

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":

Francis with a jeep


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.

view of Normandy

Haven't seen enough crosses? Six more cemetery pictures are available by clicking here.

Click here to see other Ev and Francis Paris Pics
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