Today I made more progress westward along the Normandy beaches. My hotel for last night and tonight is in Bayeux, so I started today by driving east to Juno Beach to pickup where I left off yesterday. From there I turned back west and made my way through Gold and Omaha. I called it quits for the day just past Omaha beach and returned to Bayeux for the night.
Tomorrow I going to do something different and head to the Abbe of Mont-Saint-Michel. It's on the north coast of France about 160 km south west of Bayeux. I haven't decided what I going to do on Monday (my rental car is due back on Tuesday), so I may use that time to visit Utah beach, the last of the D-Day beaches, or I may head to Caen to visit the Memorial there. One thing is for sure, there is way more here to see that can be covered in a few days, so what ever I do I will leave here with many areas unexplored.
The area west of Juno Beach is a lot more like I had originally expected the Normandy beaches to be. The area is much less densely populated and there is much more open space between the roads and the beaches. This is where the American beaches, Utah and Omaha, are located so my expectations for the Normandy area were probably due to watching too many American movies or documentaries on WWII.
The sign in front of this tank says its from the 7th Canadian Infantry Bridge and it landed on the nearby beach at H-Hour on D-Day and was stopped on its way inland just 100 meters south of this spot. All crew members were killed or badly wounded.
This cross is located just a short distance from the tank shown above. It marks the spot of some famous visitors. Winston Churchill on June 12, 1944; Charles de Gaulle stepped back on to French soil at this spot on June 14, 1944; and King George VI visited here on June 16, 1944.
Looking towards Courseulles-Sur-Mer, where the Canadian Juno Beach Center is located, from Ver-Sur-Mer where the Gold Beach America Museum (next photo) is located. Like yesterday, as the day went on the winds and the waves got higher and higher. By the time I called it quits for the day it was downright miserable, yet there were still plenty of people attempting to enjoy the beaches.
This is the Gold Beach America Museum in Ver-Sur-Mer. It's a small museum put on by a small local non profit group. The fellow running the museum today was great. I talked with him for a bit. The house he used to live in is located on Gold Beach and was one of the land marks used to identify the beach back in 1944. He was 10 at the time of D-Day and has lived here his whole life, so naturally he is very knowledgeable about the history of the area.
This tank is also located in Ver-Sur-Mer. It's actually called a Sexton self-propelled gun. The Sexton is a 25 pound gun on a modified Canadian Ram tank. If I remember correctly, the fellow at the Gold Beach America Museum said 60 of these were made.
This picture was taken at Port-en-Bessin. It shows how ugly the water around here gets as the winds and the waves increase. Brown and murky full of sea weed and yet people are still playing in the water!
A couple photos of the United States Cemetery at Omaha beach.
Omaha beach north of the cemetery.
This monument is located west of the US cemetery. The big writing on the front says "The allied forces landing on this shore which they call Omaha beach to liberate Europe - June 6th 1944".
The photo was taken in the area call "Dog Red" a bit further along Omaha beach.
A few photos taken outside the Omaha Beach Museum. This museum is another put on by locals and it contains a lot of artifacts found in the area since the war. Some of the stuff here was located in a dig just a few years ago and apparently stuff is still being found on a regular basis. At the Juno Beach Center there was a sign warning people not to touch any ammunition or shells they find, just leave it alone and call the police.
This is at a place called Point Hoc where the Germans had a few large guns. It is located in the middle and within easy firing range of the Utah and Omaha beaches, so great effort was taken to destroy the guns. The sad thing was that the guns had been removed and replaced by fakes some time before D-Day. Note the craters due to heavy bombardment.
Omaha beach is to the east over the far hill.
Looking north towards England.
Utah beach is to the west over the far hill.
As mentioned above, I'm heading to Mont-Saint-Michel tomorrow then I'll decided after that what I going to do on Monday.