Visit the highlights of the American army advances during D-Day and the following weeks
This day long tour is without a doubt the most complete tour offered to give you an idea of all of the aspects of the landings on D-Day. This excursion will take you out of the fiction of the films that have been made about the Battle of Normandy and will show you the true stories behind what happened here on June 6th in 1944. Neither Omaha nor Utah Beach will hold any secrets for you after the end of the day. You will discover everything from the church in Sainte-Mère-Eglise where the paratrooper John Steele got caught on the steeple to the sobering experience of the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach as well as one of the most interesting and remarkable sites that you will see the Pointe du Hoc where 225 Rangers climbed cliffs over a 100-feet high to capture and destroy the artillery battery installed there and fortified by the Germans.
During the night of the 5th and 6th of June 1944 more than 16 000 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions landed behind Utah Beach to assist the seaborne landings. Navigational errors meant that although most of the troops were dropped near their landing zones a lot more were dropped up to 25 miles off course. By getting caught on the church steeple John Steele ensured the lasting fame of the village being immortalised in the film “ The Longest Day “. These landings are now commemorated in two of the stained-glass windows now to be seen in the church of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.
AIRBORNE MUSEUM OF SAINTE-MERE :
This museum holds numerous uniforms and objects of equipment used principally by the American Airborne Forces including things found on the Battlefields behind Utah Beach. You will have a chance to see one of the fragile Waco gliders used by the American forces exhibited in one part of the museum and a C-47 transport plane used on the 6th of June 1944 to bring both paratroopers and a glider to Normandy from England. There are also numerous photographs and films of the Allied troops in France shown in the museum.
UTAH BEACH :
The first beach secured by the Allies in the early hours of Operation Overlord Utah Beach is best known for both its light casualties and its famous commander Theodore Roosevelt Jr son of the President of the same name. Before the landings started the Germans had already dispatched their best troops to the interior away from the beach to look for the paratroopers that had been dropped earlier. As a result of this the troops of General Barton’s 4th Division faced only very light resistance. At the site of La Madeleine the center of the landings on Utah you can see the remains of the German bunkers as well as various different pieces of Allied equipment beside the monuments to the American divisions who opened the “Road of Liberty”.
POINTE DU HOC :
Re-live on this exceptional site the exploits of the 2nd Battalion of the US Rangers. After having scaled the 100-foot cliffs under heavy enemy fire the Rangers pushed on through this lunar landscape to capture and destroy the 6 heavy guns capable of firing their shells to a maximum range of nearly 15 miles. Colonel Rudder and his men only realised upon capturing the battery that the Germans under the orders of Rommel had moved the guns half a mile inland and hidden them while bunkers were being constructed to protect them. The taking of Pointe du Hoc was a long and laborious fight with the Rangers being left to fend for themselves two days longer than had been planned. The 2nd Battalion suffered very heavy casualties during the two and a half days they were at Pointe du Hoc only 90 of the original 225 still fighting when they were finally relieved.
OMAHA BEACH :
Approximately 34 000 soldiers of the famous 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions landed on this beach on D-Day. The beach was covered in anti-tank and anti-landing craft obstacles. Nearly all of the pre-invasion bombardment had missed the fortifications along the beach and the geography of the beach itself consisting of 80 to 100-foot bluffs rising up from the shore was very easily defendable terrain for the Germans. One of the only good quality front line Infantry Divisions available to the Germans was also present on the beach purely by coincidence. This made the assault the most difficult of all the beaches on D-Day earning the nickname “Bloody Omaha”. Only a few days after the landings the Americans had transformed nearly the entire beach into a vast artificial harbour code named “Mulberry A”. It was used for less than a week before it was destroyed in a very heavy storm between the 19th and 22nd of June 1944. There is only one piece of this harbour left to be seen today.
AMERICAN CEMETERY :
Overlooking the eastern end of Omaha Beach the American cemetery holds the bodies of 9 387 soldiers who came from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to liberate Western Europe from the Germans. This immense place of memory and reflexion will impress you with its calm and serenity. You can see the graves of some of the 307 unknown soldiers or visit the resting places of the more famous such as the Niland brothers the family who inspired the film “Saving Private Ryan” as well as the three Medals of Honor winners one of whom is General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Realising the difficulties of capturing intact an enemy held port the British under Churchill opted for the mammoth task of building two artificial harbours one for the American 1st Army at Omaha the other for the British 2nd Army at Gold. However following a very severe storm lasting from the 19th to the 22nd of June 1944 which completely destroyed the American Mulberry harbour the British artificial port at Arromanches was left alone as the main supplied channel for all of the equipment needed by the Allied soldiers fighting in Normandy.
360° CINEMA AT ARROMANCHES :
Re-live for twenty minutes the difficult day of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Experience the advance of the Allies to the liberation of Paris as the soldiers did in 1944. This moving film is a great way to round off the unforgettable day that you will have had with us while visiting the beaches.
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