So, the last day of ours in Paris, we took a train to Bayeux, a town near the coast in the region of Normandy. I am sadly not very well educated on the events of D-Day, so this trip was very eye-opening for me. I had the 'Saving Private Ryan' version in my mind, but nothing compares to seeing it in person.
This is a snapshot of the town of Bayeux. The church that you see in the background is soooo old! Not the whole thing, but a portion of it was in existence in 1066, when William the Conqueror was around!!!
We went to Pointe du Hoc, where the Rangers scaled the 90 ft. cliffs to defeat the Germans. I'll post a picture of those cliffs in a second, but you should think about while you are looking at that photo that not only are they having to scale those cliffs which would be hard enough, there are angry and determined Germans cutting their ropes, shooting guns, throwing grenades and firing cannons at them all the while. Unbelievable any of them survived. 225 Rangers began that attack, only 90 survived, mostly injured, in that encounter.
The little (huge) rock jutty-out-thingy that you can see there on the beach is Pointe du Hoc. 90 foot cliffs, hard to imagine having to climb that with people trying to kill me.
You know, you always see these fields in war movies, and they actually look exactly like the movies.
This is on the way out to the land that is above the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc where the Germans had many bunkers and personnel bunkers. Any ditches that you see out there are from the 100 tons of bombs that were dropped on June 6, 1944. With the exception of pathways leading you around this area, nothing has changed since the war.
This is one of the German Bunkers that was made. It accommodated one of six extremely large 155 mm guns, capable of firing 12 miles away to Utah and Omaha Beaches. Unlike later bunkers, this one allowed them to fire 360 degrees. When this became more dangerous for them, they redesigned them, making them covered, no longer allowing for 360 degrees of firing capability, thus keeping more of their men alive.
This is one of the redesigned bunkers. The Germans were now more protected from Allied fire. Also you will notice that in the other bunker there was a smooth surface over it, this is because they were pouring these of solid concrete using wood to make the forms. As the war progressed, they could no longer get wood, so they had to begin making concrete bricks with materials they had. This is a way that they judge the age of the bunkers.
I mentioned earlier that some of the bunkers that were there would house personnel, this is one of the sleeping quarters. They could attack bunks, three high, on the four walls and sleep 20 in a 12x12 room. Way too close of quarters for me! They would remove the beds during the day and use the rooms for operations. These rooms are even outfitted with a ventilation system because they were so afraid of poisonous gas being used on them while trapped inside.
The outside view of the personnel bunker. Yes, that is me sticking out my head from the look-out hole!
Waaaay in the distance you can see the cliffs above Utah Beach, where at the end of this campaign, just over 800,000 men fought, on that beach alone.
All of the ditches you see here are from the bombs.
Another view of how all the bombs effected the area. This really doesn't do it justice, but it's the only one I have that really shows it well.
This is a sign telling about what happened on that day, and if you look at the drawing you get an idea of how many bombs fell and where. Pretty amazing precision, even in 1944.
This is a temporary bridge that was brought in to Omaha Beach. They would build them in England and then bring them over in ships in pieces to put together on the beach. Our tour guide explained that they were a little like Lego's. They would drop concrete pillars into the ocean and then place these on top in order to drive supplies to shore. There were those "jacks" looking things that you see in the movies on the beach and out into the ocean and when the tide was high, you wouldn't see them, causing your ship to be destroyed. This way, the temporary bridge eliminated the concern for those.
Overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel from the American Memorial and Cemetery.
9,387 headstones of those not burried at home
1,557 Missing in Action
41 Sets of brothers
172.5 acres of grounds
With our tour guide Rose before getting back on the train to Paris