Barbed wire along the bluff tops at the Normandy coast, looking towards Omaha Beach

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Barbed wire along the bluff tops at the Normandy coast, looking towards Omaha Beach
Barbed wire along the bluff tops at the Normandy coast, looking towards Omaha Beach

This June 6th marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Two of the most difficult operations carried out on June 6th 1944 were the takeover of Pointe du Hoc and the landing of the first troops at Omaha Beach.

German bunker at Pointe du Hoc, overlooking the English Channel
German bunker at Pointe du Hoc, overlooking the English Channel

Pointe du Hoc

The mission of the Allied Rangers was to climb the 100 foot rock wall and then destroy the German artillery to clear the way for the troop landings at Omaha and Utah beaches. The Rangers’ position was completely unfavorable, as the Germans rained bullets at them from above, while also cutting their ropes as they climbed up.  

Bullet holes inside German bunker, as a grim reminder of what could have transpired inside
Bullet holes inside German bunker, as a grim reminder of what could have transpired inside

Once on the hilltop, though, the Rangers used grenades to take out the German troops hiding in the concrete bunkers. The Germans were overwhelmed by the Allies, an their limited coffin-like concrete bunkers made it impossible to escape.

Memorial to the fallen at Omaha Beach, Normandy
Memorial to the fallen at Omaha Beach, Normandy

Omaha Beach

The bloodiest battles happened at Omaha beach as the Allies stormed towards the land on one of the widest, most open ended beaches one can find, with no shelter in sight. Only a fraction of the 1st and 29th Infantry Division managed to reach the top of the bluff.

The flat never-ending Omaha Beach and the bluffs overlooking the English Channel
The flat never-ending Omaha Beach and the bluffs overlooking the English Channel

As you drive around the beautiful landscape and picturesque villages of Normandy, you can maybe slightly imagine the terror that must have rushed through a soldier’s veins in that dark, wet, gloomy summer night as they parachuted into unknown territory with unknown outcomes.

A church with the entire ceiling blown away, Normandy
A church with the entire ceiling blown away, Normandy

There are numerous sites along the Normandy coast where time stands still. You can still see those coffin-like bunkers, the barbed wire on the bluff, and the open ended beaches.

You get a perspective of both, the threat that the Allies faced when moving in from the sea, and the chaos and destruction that must have ensued in the dwindling German ranks once the Allies reached the top of the bluffs.

Roads in Normandy, where Allied troops may have landed 75 years ago
Roads in Normandy, where Allied troops may have landed 75 years ago

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