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  • Day64

    D-day beaches

    September 5, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Snapshot
    Where - Pegasus Bridge and Normandy beaches
    Weather - fine

    This was Brad's day, visiting the war related sites he has read, and watched movies and documentaries about. First we visited Pegasus Bridge where British glider bourne troops were the first troops to see action on D-day and they had to capture the bridges crossing the Orne River and hold them intact so that the allies coming from the beaches could cross. It was an incredible feat of flying in WWII as troops landed pnly 50m from the bridge and captured in in a matter of minutes. A replacement bridge now crosses the river and the original forms part of the museum outlining the events that occurred in that area. The original was too narrow to cope with modern day traffic, but the replacement looks much the same.

    From there we headed to Point du Hoc which was an area overlooking Omaha and Utah beaches and was occupied by the Germans with large guns. The job of the American Rangers was to capture and disable the guns so that the American troops could land on the beaches without being fired upon (D-day, June 6, 1944). After heavy fighting and the Rangers had to scale the cliffs only to find the large guns they thought were there were actually tree trunks as the Germans had stored the guns as they were afraid they may have been destroyed by the shelling that was happening. As it turned out, the Rangers found the store of guns and managed to disable them by putting thermite grenades in that melted the firing breech. (See, look at how much I have learned about D-day)

    After some lunch overlooking Omaha beach, we went to the American War Cemetery - over 9000 graves of the American soldiers killed during the battle for Normandy. It is located above Omaha beach and all the headstones are arranged in perfectly straight lines , regardless of which direction you look at them. Beautifully maintained.

    We also visited the Airborne Museum which was to do with the 82nd and 101st airborne which landed inland of Utah and Omaha Beaches in the early hours of D-day. One of the paratroopers was entangled on the church tower and was lucky not to be killed by the Germans. They stll have an effigy of him hanging from the church tower in the town of Sainte-Marie-Eglise where the museum is. We did visit another museum, but frankly I have just about exhausted the amount of information I can take in about war and battles etc. that I cannot even remember what it was about.

    These activities were done over 2 days - next we move away from the battlefields and look at some things I am more interested in - next post.
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