Explore D-Day Normandy
The anniversary of the Normandy landings is on 6 June and there is plenty to see if you’re interested in following in the footsteps of the soldiers who took part in the beginning of the liberation of France.
Pegasus Bridge (Ranville)
Just after midnight on the 6 June 1944 troops came in gliders to the bridge over the Caen Canal and then held it until the following afternoon. The museum which includes the original bridge and a replica troop carrying glider is a must to visit, telling the story of the British airborne forces heroism and ingenuity in protecting the invasion from German counterattacks. Just over the new bridge the Cafe Gondree where the Gondree family greeted the soldiers who had taken Pegasus Bridge and which is still run by their daughter who was a young girl in 1944.
At the Musee Du Debarquement see the amazing story in film, sound, and an amazing model and on the beach/out to sea the story of the concrete harbour towed across from England to unload vital supplies for the invasion, ‘Mulberry B’. A ten minute walk away up steps from the museum and prepare to fly through the remaining sites and rebuilt towns of the Battle of Normandy via the 360° Cinema, you even get a tank’s eye view!. Finish the visit by going up just out of Arromanche to the Longues German gun batteries and some remaining big guns of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.
American Sector D-Day landings
If you have seen the opening of Saving Private Ryan you know the story of the sacrifice made by thousands of American soldiers on Omaha Beach. Colville American Military Cemetery with over 10,000 American graves is a reminder of the human cost of the Normandy Campaign. Next visit Pointe du Hoc where American soldiers equipped with rocket powered grapples ended up scaling a cliff with their bare hands and knives under machine gun fire to ensure that gun emplacements similar to those at Longues were not in operation.
Lastly go to the Airborne Museum at St Mere Eglise, a beautiful French town where you can see the story of the American Airborne forces who against great odds and arriving by haphazard glider and parachute drop just after midnight managed to stop the Germans attacking the American wing of the invasion.
St Mere Eglise also has pleasant cafes facing the main square, where you can see a dummy hanging from the Church representing the American parachutist John Steele, who landed on the church spire and then played dead despite the church bells ringing loudly in his ears to avoid attracting the attention of German soldiers. Later he was taken down by the Germans but escaped to later in the 6 June.
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