June 6th: D-Day in Normandy, France

On this date in 1944, troops from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Free French forces invaded the Normandy coast of German-occupied France. 11 months later, what was left of Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.

Getting ashore with enough troops, equipment and supplies to effectively continue the fight was a challenge that is still unparalleled in its scope. As in every war, mistakes were made that increased the loss of life. Both soldiers and civilians perished in the invasion. Yet the landings were successful, paving the way for Nazi Germany’s destruction and the rebuilding of war-ravaged Europe.

65 years later, there are few alive who remember the events of this day. Let us always remember and respect the sacrifice so many have made, and continue to make, for others’ freedom.

I had the privilege of visiting the beach areas in 2004. Here are some of my photos from that trip.

he top of the cliffs of Pont du Hoc, still showing the effect of the aerial and naval bombardments. U.S. Rangers, under fire, scaled the beach cliffs, took this ground by frontal assault and held it against several counter-attacks over the next 2 days. They suffered heavy casualties. Out of 225 Rangers, 90 came out of this still able to fight.

The top of the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, still showing the effect of the aerial and naval bombardments. U.S. Rangers, under fire, scaled the beach cliffs, took this ground by frontal assault and held it against several counter-attacks over the next 2 days. They suffered heavy casualties. Out of 225 Rangers, 90 came out still able to fight.

 

 

The remains of a German bunker in a massive crater on Pont du Hoc, near "Omaha" Beach. The pieces have been left undisturbed where they fell.

The remains of a German bunker in a massive crater on Pointe du Hoc, near "Omaha" Beach. The rubble remains undisturbed since that time.

 

"Pegasus" Bridge, the first assault on D-Day. British glider troops landed nearby and captured this bridge intact before the beach assaults. They took the bridge with light casualties but suffered heavy losses defending the bridge, and fighting their way back to friendly lines afterward. The building on the other side was there in 1944, and was the first café liberated in occupied France.

"Pegasus" Bridge, site of the first D-Day assault. British glider troops landed nearby and captured the bridge intact before the beach assaults. The bridge in this photo is a replacement, but the original sits nearby. The building on the other side was there in 1944, and was the first café to be liberated in occupied France.

"Utah" Beach, first assaulted by U.S. troops from the 4th Infantry Division.

"Utah" Beach, which was assaulted by U.S. troops from the 4th Infantry Division.

Advertisements

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Europe, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to June 6th: D-Day in Normandy, France

  1. afrankangle says:

    I have yet to visit this area, yet is a place all of us should make an effort to see – and the feeling must be surreal.

  2. Martin HUWART says:

    I visited the site in 1984, and hold some fragments of a US navy heavy shell hitting the area.
    There is a story about a discovery by the special service protecting the President prior D-day’s ceremony. It seems that they inspected the ground thoroughly and found entry to a bunker which had slided into a whole made by heavy shells from the USS TEXAS and was partly buried. Inside, the dead german crew was still there, locked by the slide, as well as some supplies like champagne and others. It is reported that REAGAN got some bottles, and that the 1943 crop was still in very good condition and..delicious !
    Is there anything true about this ?

    Martin

    • lukechandler says:

      This is the first I’ve heard of it. Interesting story. If it’s true then someone, somewhere, has celebrated is going to celebrate something in a rather unique, historical way.

      • Martin HUWART says:

        I believe its time for me to do another visit there.A look at your pictures of 2004 shows quite a different -more tourist minded-situation of the area. In 1984, it was still chaotic, with elementary walking paths. Born in january 1944, I was already a survivor at my first birthday. I escaped a V1 bomb, and the blast of window glas when a RAF lightning dropped his bombs in the river Ourthe at Esneux in front of my place. Mother found a dagger of 30 cm in my matress. The battle of the bulge was stopped at 1 km from home near Stoumont,and we had to run away.
        No surprise if I am rather obsessed by WW2 ! With an international family, a german cousin was lost in 1942 with his sub, an english one was lost in Tobrouk. My father was severely wounded on 11th may 1940 and as a secret army officer, escaped arrestation by the Gestapo due his train was delayed by bombing alarm. Life can be funny !
        Martin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s