American World War II Memorial – Normandy, France

Over the holiday, I experienced my first visit to Normandy, France…site of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion (Operation Overlord) in World War II.  The following photographs were taken with my iPhone.

 

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

Buried here are 9,387 American soldiers, the vast majority of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach in Normandy.  The 172 acre cemetery and memorial is owned and operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission, an agency of the United States federal government.

Cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer

 

Omaha Beach, Normandy France

Omaha Beach was the code-name for one of five sectors invaded by the Allied Forces on D-Day in World War II.  The beach is a five kilometer section of the coastline in Normandy, France, facing the English Channel.  Geographically, the beach is centered east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer.  During the invasion, the beach was heavily fortified by German machine gun bunkers and large artillery batteries (see below) located at the top of 150 foot cliffs. Under heavy fire from the German bunkers, the American 29th Infantry Division and 1st Infantry Division endured nearly catastrophic levels of casualties.  Groups of survivors bravely managed to make improvised assaults on the bunkers by scaling the cliffs, ultimately securing the beach and achieving the original D-Day objectives.  The first thirty minutes of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” is a spectacular re-enactment of the D-Day experience on Omaha Beach.

Omaha Beach, site of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France in World War II.  This is the view from a German machine gun bunker at the top of the 150 tall cliffs above the beach.

 

The Longues-sur-Mer Wehrmacht Artillery Battery

Located in the village of Longues-sur-Mer, Normandy, this battery was constructed by the Wehrmacht as part of the German Atlantic Wall fortification to defend against Allied invasion.  This particular battery is located between Omaha Beach and Gold Beach.  The bunker houses a 152mm navy artillery gun, protected by steel-reinforced concrete several feet thick.  The gun had a range of several kilometers.  This particular gun battery fired approximately 170 shots on D-Day, but was eventually disabled due to bombardment from the British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut.  The crew of the gun battery (184 men, most of whom were over 40 years old) surrendered to the British 231st Infantry Brigade the day after D-Day.

Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery

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