Verdun and Normandy 2011

Discussion in 'Personal Gallery' started by DerAdlerIstGelandet, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Me and my wife really enjoy traveling and we have been blessed with being able to see many parts of the world. Whenever I go some where I have traditionally posted a thread with pictures that I have taken from the vacation/travel, etc. Last year I did not get around to this. Was just way to busy.

    Anyhow, last July me and my wife drove up to Normandy for a week. This was my 3rd time in Normandy, so it was pretty much a refresher for me.

    Anyhow, I guess I will finally get around to this, here are some of the pics and history of what is being shown. For the history parts I will use Wikipedia. Not because it is a great source (we all know it is not), but because it is a quick reference. Hope you guys enjoy the thread.

    This thread will be broken down into multiple posts that talk about and show pictures from specific places. This may take a few days.

    Well here we go...
     
  2. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Verdun
    First we drove up through Verdun. The actual purpose of this part of the trip was going to a Music Festival ((Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth...) near Verdun. Anyhow being the history buff that I am, I am not going to let the chance go by to see the historic battlefield.

    First a bit of history of the battle.

    The Battle of Verdun (French: Bataille de Verdun, IPA: [bataj də vɛʁdœ̃], German: Schlacht um Verdun, IPA: [ʃlaxt ˀʊm vɛɐdœŋ]) was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France.

    Verdun resulted in 698,000 battlefield deaths (362,000 French and 336,000 German combatants), an average of 70,000 deaths for each of the ten months of the battle.[5] It was the longest and one of the most devastating battles in the First World War and the history of warfare. Verdun was primarily an artillery battle: a total of about 40 million artillery shells were exchanged, leaving behind millions of overlapping shell craters that are still partly visible. In both France and Germany, Verdun has come to represent the horrors of war, like the Battle of the Somme in the British consciousness. The renowned British military historian Major General Julian Thompson has referred to Verdun as "France's Stalingrad".
    Battle of Verdun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Verdun Memorial

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    French 105mm Schneider Modele 1913

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    French 155 mm Model 1877

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    A reconstruction of the trenches, using actual battle field relics and artifacts dug up from the battlefield.

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    Fokker E.III

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    Newport 11

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  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Fort Douaumont

    After visiting the Verdun Memorial, we drove over to Fort Douaumont. Fort Douaumont was the largest of the forts built in a defensive ring around Verdun. It was heavily shelled and fought over and traded ownership several times between the French and German forces.

    An aerial picture showing Fort Douamont before the Battle of Verdun.
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    Another aerial photo showing the Fort at the end of 1916 with battle damage.
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    Fort Douaumont (French Fort de Douaumont) was the largest and highest fort on the ring of 19 large defensive forts protecting the city of Verdun, France since the 1890s. However, by 1915 the French General Staff had concluded that even the best-protected forts of Verdun could not resist bombardments from the German 420 mm (16 in) Gamma guns. These newly deployed giant howitzers had easily taken several large Belgian forts out of action in August 1914. As a result, Fort Douaumont and other Verdun forts, being judged ineffective, had been partly disarmed and left virtually undefended since 1915. Consequently, on 25 February 1916, Fort Douaumont was entered and occupied without a fight by a small German raiding party comprising only 19 officers and 79 men. The easy fall of Fort Douaumont, only three days after the beginning of the Battle of Verdun, produced a deep shock in the French Army's command structure. It set the stage for the rest of a battle which lasted nine months, at enormous human costs. Douaumont was finally recaptured by three infantry divisions of the French Second Army, during the First Offensive Battle of Verdun on 24 October 1916. This event brought closure to the Battle of Verdun in 1916

    Construction work started in 1885 near the village of Douaumont, on some of the highest ground in the area. Over subsequent years, the fort was continually reinforced until 1913.

    It has a total surface area of 30,000 square metres and is approximately 400 metres long, with two subterranean levels protected by a steel reinforced concrete roof 12 metres thick resting on a sand cushion. These improvements had been completed by 1903. The fort was equipped with numerous armed posts, a 155 mm rotating/retractable gun turret, a 75 mm rotating/retractable gun turret, four other 75 mm guns in flanking "Bourges Casemates" that swept the intervals and several machine-gun turrets. Entry into the moat which was entirely surrounding the fort was interdicted by Hotchkiss anti-personnel revolving cannons located in wall casemates or "Coffres" present at each corner. With hindsight, Douaumont was much better prepared to withstand the heaviest bombardments than the Belgian forts that had been crushed by the 420mm Krupp Gamma howitzers in 1914.

    However, the German invasion of Belgium in 1914 had forced military planners to radically rethink the utility of fortification in war. Belgium's forts were quickly destroyed by German artillery, and easily overrun. Hence, in August 1915, General Joffre approved the fateful decision to reduce the garrison at Douaumont and at other Verdun forts. So Douaumont was stripped of all its weaponry except for the two turreted guns that were too difficult to remove: one 155 mm and one 75mm gun. Conversely, the two "Casemates de Bourges" bunkers, one on each side of the fort, were totally disarmed of their four 75's.
    Fort Douaumont - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    As you can see shell craters are still visible and pocking the area today.

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    Inside the fort.

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    155mm Cannon Turret

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  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Next we drove on over to the Douaumont Ossuary and Cemetery, which overlooks the battlefield.

    Here are some visible trenches that still partially survive today.

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    And the Battlefield today.

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    Note: The next picture taken below, I did not take, it is from Wikipedia.

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    Douaumont Ossuary

    The Douaumont ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun in World War I. It is located in Douaumont, France, within the Verdun battlefield.

    The ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of both French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. Through small outside windows, the skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants of both nations can be seen filling up alcoves at the lower edge of the building. On the inside of the ossuary building, the ceiling and walls are partly covered by plaques bearing names of French soldiers who fell during the Battle of Verdun. A few of the names are from fighting that took place in the area during World War II. The families of the soldiers that are recognized here by name contributed for those individual plaques. In front of the monument and sloping downhill, lies the largest single French military cemetery of WWI with 16,142 graves. It was initiated in 1923 by Verdun veteran André Maginot of future Maginot Line fame.

    The ossuary was officially inaugurated on 7 August 1932 by French President Albert Lebrun.

    Douaumont ossuary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Unfortunately it was under renovation at the time of my visit, so this is the best picture I could get. You are also not allowed to take pictures inside the ossuary, and I respect this as a war memorial and for that reason did not sneak any pictures inside.
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    Note: The next following picture is taken from Wikipedia, so as to show what it would look like when it is not under construction.

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    Back to my pictures, the cemetery below the ossuary.
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  5. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    nice pictures Chris, must get over to northern France/Belgium/Holland for some battlefield tours someday
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Next up we drove down to the actual city of Verdun and took in some of the memorials and sites along the way.

    Memorial at the Trench of the Bayonets

    The Memorial at the Trench of Bayonets (Tranchée des Baïonnettes), where according to legend, a unit of French troops was buried alive by shell bursts, leaving only their rifles protruding above the ground, with bayonets fixed. It marks the marks the location where some dozen bayonets lined up in a row were discovered projecting out of the ground after the war; below each rifle was the body of a French soldier. It is believed that these belonged to a group of soldiers who had rested their rifles against the parapet of the trench they were occupying when they were killed during a bombardment. The men were buried where they lay in the trench and the rifles left untouched.



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    The Lion of Verdun

    This Lion marks the furthest advance of the German Army at the Battle of Verdun. At the point the Germans were turned back.

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    The city of Verdun

    Verdun (French pronunciation: [vɛʁ.dœ̃]; medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

    Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.

    Verdun (Latin: Verodunum, meaning "strong fort") was founded by the Gauls (as its Celtic name shows; "Dunum" is the Latinized version of a Celtic word meaning oppidum). It has been the seat of the bishop of Verdun since the 4th century AD, with interruptions. In the Treaty of Verdun in AD 843, the empire of Charlemagne was divided into three parts.

    At around this time Verdun was the centre of a Europe-wide thriving trade selling young boys to be enslaved eunuchs to the Islamic emirates of Iberia. Less controversially, the city has been famous for Dragées or sugared almonds from 1200 onwards; they were distributed at the baptism of French princes.

    Verdun was part of the middle kingdom of Lotharingia, and in 1374 it became an Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire. The Bishopric of Verdun formed together with Tull (Toul) and Metz the Three Bishoprics, which were annexed by France in 1552 (recognized in 1648 by the Peace of Westphalia).

    From 1624 to 1636, a large bastioned citadel was constructed on the site of the Abbey of Saint Vanne. In 1670, Vauban visited Verdun and drew up an ambitious scheme to fortify the whole city. Although much of his plan was built in the following decades, some of elements were not completed until the after the Napoleonic Wars. Despite the extensive fortifications, Verdun was captured by the Prussians in 1792, but abandoned by them after the Battle of Valmy. During the Napoleonic War, the citadel was used to hold British prisoners-of-war. In the Franco-Prussian War, Verdun was the last French fortress to surrender in 1870. Shortly afterwards, a new system of fortification was begun. This consisted of a mutually supporting ring of 22 polygonal forts up to 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the city, and an inner ring of 6 forts.
    Verdun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    The panorama photo below was not taken by me, and is from Wikipedia.

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    Verdun Military Cemetery in the city of Verdun

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    A memorial to the defenders of the city and WW1

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  7. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

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    I've been to Verdun when I was maybe 13/14, have never forgotten the place......
     
  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    It is very somber. Me and my wife were speechless.
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    After 2 nights in the Verdun region, we began the long drive to Normany and the city of Caen, where our Hotel was located at. Damn Toll Booths!!! :lol: Anyhow, it was a very interesting drive, as we drove through Paris and the ring. We have been to Paris on several occasions for weekend sightseeing, but we have never driving our car through Paris. That was actually pretty terrible, and I don't recommend it. ;)

    Anyhow, here we go. First stop was in the city of Bayeux. Here we visited the Bayeux War Memorial and Cemetery and the Battle of Normandy Museum. I will cover the city of Bayeux later, as we toured the city and its non military sights on a separate day.

    Battle of Normandy Museum in Bayeux

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    M4 Sherman

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    Churchill Tank

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    Hetzer

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    A bust of De Gaulle.

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    Inside the Museum

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    A view of the Cathedral from the Museum

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    Bayeux War Cemetery and Memorial

    The Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France, located in Bayeux, Normandy. The cemetery contains 4,648 burials, mostly of the Invasion of Normandy. Opposite this cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which commemorates more than 1,800 casualties of the Commonwealth forces who died in Normandy and have no known grave.

    The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by France in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defense and liberation of France during the war. In addition to the Commonwealth burials, there are 366 graves of German soldiers.

    The cemetery contains the Cross of Sacrifice or War Cross, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

    The Bayeux Memorial was erected in white stone facing the cemetery. The Latin epitaph along the frieze of the memorial is reference to William the Conqueror and the Invasion of England in 1066. The translation reads: “We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror’s native land.”

    On this memorial are engraved the names of the 1,808 men of the Commonwealth who died in the Battle of Normandy and who have no known grave. The Bayeux Memorial in Normandy, France commemorates 194 Canadian servicemen and women.

    Among the names are the 189 men of the 43rd Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment who were aboard the ill-fated Derrycunihy. On the night of 23 July 1944, the ship was anchored off the coast of Ouistreham (Sword Beach), and the regiment was awaiting to disembark. At 0800 the ship’s engines detonated a submerged German mine, ripping the hull apart. This was the biggest British loss of life off the Normandy beaches. The 189 missing men’s names are engraved on the wall in Bayeux.

    Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The following day we headed back to Bayeux to visit the actual city and the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Bayeux is a very small and nice town. I enjoy the older architecture which fortunately was left untouched during WW2.

    Bayeux

    Bayeux is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandy in northwestern France. Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England.

    Founded as a Gallo-Roman settlement in the 1st century BC under the name Augustodurum, Bayeux is the capital of the former territory of the Bodiocassi people of Gaul, whose name appears in the writings of Pliny the Elder. Evidence of earlier human occupation of the territory comes from fortified Celtic camps, but there is no evidence of any major pre-existing Celtic town before the organization of Gaul in Roman civitates. Any settlement was more likely confined to scattered Druid huts along the banks of the Aure and Drome rivers or on Mount Phaunus where they worshiped. Cemeteries have been found on the nearby Mount Phaunus indicating the area as a Druid center. Titus Sabinus, a lieutenant of Julius Caesar, subjected the Bessin region to Roman domination.

    The town is mentioned by Ptolemy writing in the reign of Antoninus Pius under the name Noemagus Biducassium (for *Noviomagus Badiocassium 'New market of the Badiocassi') and remained so until the time of the Roman Empire. The main street was already the heart of the city. A pair of spas under the Church of St. Lawrence and the Dairy Street Postal office and a sculpted head of the goddess Minvera have been found attesting to the adoption of Roman culture. In 1990 a closer examination of huge blocks discovered in the Cathedral in the 19th century indicated the presence of an old Roman building. Bayeux was built on a crossroads between Lisieux and Valognes, developing first on the west bank of the river. By the end of the 3rd Century a walled enclosure surrounded the city until it was removed in the 18th Century. It's layout is still visible and can be followed today. The citadel of the city was located in the southwest corner and the Cathedral the southeast. An important city in Normandy, Bayeux was part of the coastal defense of the Roman Empire against the pirates of the region and a Roman Legion was stationed there.

    Middle Ages

    The city was largely destroyed during the Viking Raids of the late 9th century but was rebuilt in the early 10th Century under the reign of Bothon. The elevent saw the creation of five villages beyond the walls to the north east evidence of its growth during Ducal Normandy. William the Conqueror's half brother Odo of Conteville completed the cathedral in the city and it was dedicated in 1077. However the city began to lose prominence when William placed his capital at Caen. When King Henry I defeated his brother Robert Curthose for the rule of Normandy, the city was burned to set an example to the rest of the duchy. Under Richard the Lion Heart, Bayeux was wealthy enough to purchase a municipal charter. From the end of Richard's reign to the end of the Hundred Years' War, Bayeux was repeatedly pillaged until Henry V captured of the city in 1417. After the Battle of Formigny, Charles VII recaptured the city and granted a general amnesty to its populace in 1450. The capture of Bayeux heralded a return to prosperity as new families replaced those decimated by war and these built some 60 mansions scattered throughout the city, with stone supplanting wood.

    Today

    The area around Bayeux is called the Bessin, which was the bailiwick of the province Normandy until the French Revolution. During the Second World War, Bayeux was the first city of the Battle of Normandy to be liberated, and on 16 June 1944 General Charles de Gaulle made the first of two major speeches in Bayeux in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies. The buildings in Bayeux were virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, the German forces being fully involved in defending Caen from the Allies.

    The Bayeux War Cemetery with its memorial includes the largest British cemetery dating from the Second World War in France. There are 4648 graves, including 3935 British and 466 Germans. Most of those buried there were killed in the invasion of Normandy.

    The Royal British Legion National, every 5th June at 1530hrs attend the 3rd Division Cean Memorial service and beating retreat ceremony, on the 6th June hold a remembrance service in Bayeux Cathedral starting at 1015hrs, after at 1200hrs The Royal British Legion National hold a service of remembrance at the Bayeux Cemetery, all services are open to the public, all Standards RBL NVA RN ARMY RAF service and Regimental Associations are welcome to attend and parade.
    Bayeux - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Bayeux Tapestry

    The Bayeux Tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux, IPA: [tapisʁi də bajø], Norman : La telle du conquest) is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry—nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with Latin tituli (captions), embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, and made in England in the 1070s. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars at a time when it was being displayed annually in Bayeux Cathedral. The tapestry is now exhibited at Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy.
    Bayeux Tapestry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures of the Tapestry, so here are some photos that I found online.

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    Bayeux Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux)

    Bayeux Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux) is a Norman-Romanesque cathedral, located in the town of Bayeux. It is the seat of the Bishop of Bayeux. It was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry and is a national monument of France.

    The site is an ancient one and was once occupied by Roman sanctuaries. The present cathedral was consecrated on 14 July 1077 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It was here that William forced Harold Godwinson to take the oath, the breaking of which led to the Norman conquest of England.
    Bayeux Cathedral - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Following Bayeux we drove on over to Point du Hoc

    Point du Hoc

    Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft (30 m) tall cliffs overlooking the sea. It was a point of attack by the United States Army Ranger Assault Group during Operation Overlord in World War II.

    On Pointe du Hoc (sometimes erroneously known as Pointe du Hoe following a typographical error by an American military cartographer) the Germans had built, as part of the Atlantic Wall, six casemates to house a battery of captured French 155mm guns. With Pointe Du Hoc situated between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east, these guns threatened Allied landings on both beaches, risking heavy casualties in the landing forces. Although there were several bombardments from the air and by naval guns, intelligence reports assumed that the fortifications were too strong, and would also require attack by ground forces. The U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion was therefore given the task of destroying the strongpoint early on D-Day.

    Prior to the attack, the guns were moved approximately 1 mile away; however, the concrete fortifications were intact, and would still present a major threat to the landings if they were occupied by artillery forward observers. The Ranger Battalion commanders and executive officers knew the guns had moved, but the rest of the Rangers were not informed prior to the attack.

    The Ranger battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder. The plan called for the three companies of Rangers to be landed by sea at the foot of the cliffs, scale them using ropes, ladders, and grapples under enemy fire, and engage the enemy at the top of the cliff. This was to be carried out before the main landings. The Rangers trained for the cliff assault on the Isle of Wight, under the direction of British Commandos.

    Major Cleveland A. Lytle was to command Companies D, E, and F of the 2nd Ranger Battalion (known as "Force A") in the assault at Point du Hoc. During a briefing aboard the HMS Ben My Chree he heard that Free French sources reported the guns thought to be there had been removed. Impelled to some degree by alcohol, Lytle became quite vocal that the assault would be unnecessary and suicidal and was relieved of his command at the last minute by Provisional Ranger Force commander Rudder. Rudder felt that Lytle could not convincingly lead a force with a mission that he did not believe in.[6] Lytle was later transferred to the 90th Infantry Division where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Despite initial setbacks because of weather and navigational problems, resulting in a 40-minute delay and loss of surprise, the British landing craft carrying the rangers finally reached the base of the cliffs. The landing craft were fitted with rocket launchers to fire grapnels and ropes up the cliffs. As the Rangers scaled the cliffs the Allied destroyers USS Satterlee and HMS Talybont provided them with fire support and ensured that the German defenders above could not fire down on the assaulting troops. Upon reaching the fortifications, most of the Rangers learned for the first time that the main objective of the assault, the artillery battery, had been moved out of position, possibly as a result of air attacks during the buildup to the invasion. It is said that German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel gave the order to move the battery since he had recently been placed in charge of the coastal defenses of Normandy. Removal of the guns had actually been completed on June 4, 1944, but poor weather conditions prior to the invasion limited a final reconnaissance effort which would have revealed the guns' removal. The Rangers regrouped at the top of the cliffs, and a small patrol went off in search of the guns. This patrol found five of the six guns nearby and destroyed them with thermite grenades. The new battery location inland was sited solely for Utah beach.

    The costliest part of the battle for the Rangers came after the cliff assault. Determined to hold the vital ground, yet isolated from other Allied forces and outnumbered by the German garrison on the point, the Rangers fended off several counterattacks from the German 916th Grenadier-Regiment. Rudder's men were finally relieved after units of the American 29th Infantry Division's 116th Infantry Regiment broke through to the Rangers from Omaha Beach on June 7.

    The original plans had also called for an additional, larger Ranger force of eight companies (including Companies A, B, and C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the entire 5th Ranger Battalion) to follow the first attack, if successful. Flares from the clifftops were to signal this second wave to join the attack, but because of the delayed landing, the signal came too late, and the other Rangers landed on Omaha instead of Pointe du Hoc. The added impetus these 500+ Rangers provided on the stalled Omaha Beach landing has been conjectured to have averted a disastrous failure there, since they carried the assault beyond the beach, into the overlooking bluffs and outflanked the German defenses. At the end of the 2-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of 225+ was reduced to about 90 men who could still fight. In the aftermath of the battle, some Rangers became convinced that French civilians had taken part in the fighting on the German side. A number of French civilians accused of shooting at American forces or of serving as artillery observers for the Germans were executed.

    Small French Village on the way.

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    Point du Hoc

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    Point du Hoc memorial at the the cliff.

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    German Bunker

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    German Artillery

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  12. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Terrific .... and by 'the car' do you mean the jeep ...? :)

    MM
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Right after that it was off to the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. The town was made famous as the first town liberated during the Normandy Invasion by units of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division.

    Sainte-Mère-Église

    Sainte-Mère-Église is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.

    Founded in the eleventh Century, the earliest records (1080–1082) include the name Sancte Marie Ecclesia, Latin for "Church of St. Mary", while a later document written in Norman-French (1317) mentions Saincte Mariglise. The current French form of the name is ambiguous, with the additional meaning, "Holy Mother Church". The town was significantly involved in the Hundred Years' War as well as the Wars of Religion.

    The town's main claim to fame is that it played a significant part in the World War II Normandy landings because this village stood right in the middle of route N13, which the Germans would have most likely used on any significant counterattack on the troops landing on Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the early morning of 6 June 1944 mixed units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions occupied the town in Operation Boston, giving it the claim to be one of the first towns liberated in the invasion.

    D-Day battle

    The early landings, at about 0140 directly on the town, resulted in heavy casualties for the paratroopers. Some buildings in town were on fire that night, and they illuminated the sky, making easy targets of the descending men. Some were sucked into the fire. Many hanging from trees and utility poles were shot before they could cut loose. The German defenders were alerted.

    A famous incident involved paratrooper John Steele of the 505th PIR, whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church, and could only observe the fighting going on below. He hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village, capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven. The incident was portrayed in the movie The Longest Day by actor Red Buttons.

    Later that morning, about 0500, a force led by Lt. Colonel Edward C. Krause of the 505th PIR took the town with little resistance. Apparently the German garrison was confused and had retired for the rest of the night. However, heavy German counterattacks began later in the day and into the next. The lightly armed troops held the town until reinforced by tanks from nearby Utah Beach in the afternoon of 7 June. Other notable soldiers in the Allied assault on the town:

    Lt. Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort
    Lt. Turner B. Turnbull
    Capt. Ben Schwartzwalder
    Cpl. Edward A. Slavin, Sr.
    Sgt. George Bowler Tullidge III.

    Krause and Vandervoort both received the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions in the capture of the town. Tullidge received the Bronze Star, and it is noted that a collection of Bible verses and of his letters home, A Paratrooper's Faith, was distributed throughout the 82nd Airborne by his parents following his death until the 1990s.

    Henry Langrehr was also involved in the capture of Sainte-Mère-Église. He crashed through a greenhouse roof, as retold in the movie The Longest Day. On 6 November 2007 he received, along with five other men, the Legion of Honor medal from the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.

    While on a lunch picnic (gotta love French butter, Cheese, Salamis and Wine...;)) at a beach along the rout, we found this nice litte memorial to RAF Bomber Crews.

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    The Catehdral in Sainte-Mère-Église with a Parachute Memorial to John Steele.

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    Stained Glass Windows showing Airborne Soldiers

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    The Airborne Museum

    The Airborne Museum (Musée Airborne) is a museum in Sainte-Mère-Église, La Manche, France. It is dedicated to the memory of the troops of 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division who landed in the town by parachute or glider on the night of 5–6 June 1944, hours before the Allied landings in Normandy. Its collections have been donated by the townspeople and thanks to gifts from the veterans of 82nd and 10th Airborne Divisions.

    It was founded in 1962 and on 6 June that year its first stone was laid by général Gavin, who had liberated the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. Its first building, built to look like a parachute from the air, was opened on 6 June 1964 (the twentieth anniversary of D-Day) and houses a WACO glider. Its second building opened in 1984, built to look like a billowing parachute and housing a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, one of the aircraft which towed gliders to Sainte-Mère-Église. Its third building is due to open in 2012 and will house (among other things) reconnaissance kit.
    Airborne Museum (Sainte-Mère-Église) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    M4 Sherman

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    View of the Church from the Museum

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    WACO CG-4 Glider

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    C-47 Skytrain

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  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    No we did not take the Jeep. Gas prices are two expensive in France, and I do not get to use my Rations in France, so I would have to pay the French prices. So we took my wife's smaller car so that it would be cheaper and better gas mileage.
     
  15. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #15 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
    Next up Utah Beach.

    On the drive over to Utah Beach, found a nice small memorial to the Danish sailors who participated in the D-Day landings. All over the country side there are memorials like this one, and it just goes to show how much of a unified international effort it was to make these landings successful. So many nations small and large contributed what they could and what they had available. I just feel unfortunate that I did not get to see all of them. There are just too many.

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    Utah Beach

    Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank, or westernmost, of the Allied landing beaches during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as part of Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944. Utah was added to the invasion plan toward the end of the planning stages, when more landing craft became available.

    Utah Beach, about 3 miles (5 km) long, was the westernmost of the five landing beaches, located between Pouppeville and the village of La Madeleine, which became the right flank anchor of the allied offensive along the left bank (western bank) of the Douve River estuary. The German sector code was W5.

    Despite being substantially off course, the US 4th Infantry Division (part of VII corps) landed with relatively little resistance, in stark contrast to Omaha Beach, where the fighting was fierce.

    By the end of D-Day, some 23,250 troops had safely landed on the beach, along with 1,700 vehicles. Only about 200 casualties were recorded during the landings. Several factors contributed to the success at Utah compared to the bloody battle at nearby Omaha:

    Fewer German fortifications: The defense of the area was largely based on flooding the coastal plain behind the beaches, and there were fewer bunkers.
    Effective pre-invasion bombardment: Many of the known large bunkers, such as the coastal battery near Saint-Martin-de-Varreville, were destroyed from the air prior to D-Day. B-26 Marauder medium bombers of the US Ninth Air Force, flying below 5,000 feet (1,500 m), provided close air support for the assaulting forces.
    DD tanks: Nearly all of these swimming tanks made the beach, because they were launched half as far out as at Omaha and were able to steer into the current more effectively to avoid swamping in the rough seas.
    Mis-landings: Because most of the invasion force landed opposite Exit 2, this one was the most used; other exits were more heavily fortified.
    Paratroopers: The most significant difference was the 13,000 men from the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division already fighting inland. For five hours before the first Utah landings, the paratroopers (and glider forces) had been fighting their way toward the beach, clearing the enemy from positions along the exits. The paratroopers also greatly confused the enemy and prevented any significant counterattack to the landing area.

    The true cost of Utah Beach is reflected in the heavy airborne casualties: The 101st alone lost about 40% of its forces on D-Day. Also, the 1,000 casualties during Exercise Tiger, a practice run for the Utah assault, could also be considered part of the price for D-Day.

    Utah Beach - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    First a picture of the landings on Utah.

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    And Utah Beach today...

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    A memorial to a fallen soldier on Utah.

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    The Beach itself.

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    The remains of a Landing Craft on the beach.

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    The memorial at Utah Beach

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    German Bunker in a field just behind Utah Beach.

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  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Following Utah Beach we headed over to the La Cambe German war cemetery. Besides just wanting to see the Cemetery we were also going their to use the computer data base to find my Wife's Grandfathers brother. He fell in Normandy, and were hoping to find his grave and take a picture for her Grandfather, as well as lay a wreath for him. We found out that he was not at this cemetery, but at a different one, and we were able to make a stop at it a few days later. We did however learn that famed Panzer leader Michael Whitrmann and his crew are buried there.

    La Cambe German War Cemetery

    La Cambe is a military war grave cemetery, located close to Bayeux, France. Presently containing in excess of 21,000 German military personnel of World War II, it is maintained and managed by the German War Graves Commission.

    La Cambe was originally the site of a battlefield cemetery, established by the United States Army Graves Registration Service during the war, where American and German soldiers, sailors and airmen were buried in two adjacent fields.

    After the war had ended on the continent and paralleling the work undertaken to repair all the devastation that the war had caused, work began on exhuming the American remains and transferring them in accordance with the wishes of their families. Beginning in 1945, the Americans transferred two-thirds of their fallen from this site back to the United States while the remainder were reinterred at the new permanent American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer, which overlooks the Omaha Beach landing site.

    Because of the pace of the war, the German war dead in Normandy were scattered over a wide area, many of them buried in isolated field graves - or small battlefield cemeteries. In the years following the war, the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) sought to establish six main German cemeteries in the Normandy area.

    In total, as of July 2008, there are the remains of 21,222 German soldiers, sailors and airmen buried at La Cambe. Casualties of the war in Normandy are still being found after some 50 years, although formal burial ceremonies are less frequent these days.

    Since the mid-1990s, there has been an Information Center on the site, where visitors can view a permanent exhibition about the German War Graves Commission and access a database to search for the location of German military dead.

    Unlike the American and Commonwealth War Graves Commissions, the German Commission is entirely voluntary and relies on gifts and collections to further its work. During the summer months one may see German school children tending the graves; they volunteer to work with the Volksbund during their school holidays.

    La Cambe German war cemetery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    The grave of Michael Whittman

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  17. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #17 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
    Following the Cemetery we drove over to Omaha Beach and then followed that with the US Military Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

    Omaha Beach

    Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II. The beach is located on the coast of Normandy, France, facing the English Channel, and is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer on the right bank of the Douve River estuary. Landings here were necessary in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. Taking Omaha was to be the responsibility of United States Army troops, with sea transport provided by the U.S. Navy and elements of the Royal Navy.

    On D-Day, the untested 29th Infantry Division, joined by nine companies of U.S. Army Rangers redirected from Pointe du Hoc, were to assault the western half of the beach. The battle-hardened 1st Infantry Division was given the eastern half. The initial assault waves, consisting of tanks, infantry, and combat engineer forces, were carefully planned to reduce the coastal defenses and allow the larger ships of the follow-up waves to land.

    The primary objective at Omaha was to secure a beachhead of some five miles (eight kilometres) depth, between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River, linking with the British landings at Gold Beach to the east, and reaching the area of Isigny to the west to link up with VII Corps landing at Utah Beach. Opposing the landings was the German 352nd Infantry Division, a large portion of whom were teenagers, though they were supplemented by veterans who had fought on the Eastern Front. The 352nd had never had any battalion or regimental training. Of the 12,020 men of the division, only 6,800 were experienced combat troops, detailed to defend a 53 km front. The Germans were largely deployed in strongpoints along the coast—the German strategy was based on defeating any seaborne assault at the water line. Nevertheless, Allied calculations indicated that Omaha's defenses were three times as strong as those they had encountered during the Battle of Kwajalein and its defenders were four times as many.

    Very little went as planned during the landing at Omaha Beach. Difficulties in navigation caused the majority of landing craft to miss their targets throughout the day. The defenses were unexpectedly strong, and inflicted heavy casualties on landing US troops. Under heavy fire, the engineers struggled to clear the beach obstacles; later landings bunched up around the few channels that were cleared. Weakened by the casualties taken just in landing, the surviving assault troops could not clear the heavily defended exits off the beach. This caused further problems and consequent delays for later landings. Small penetrations were eventually achieved by groups of survivors making improvised assaults, scaling the bluffs between the most heavily defended points. By the end of the day, two small isolated footholds had been won, which were subsequently exploited against weaker defenses further inland, thus achieving the original D-Day objectives over the following days.

    The foothold gained on D-Day at Omaha Beach, itself two isolated pockets, was the most tenuous across all the D-Day beaches. With the original objective yet to be achieved, the priority for the allies was to link up all the Normandy beachheads.[86] During the course of June 7, while still under random shellfire, the beach was prepared as a supply area. Surplus cargo ships were deliberately sunk to form an artificial breakwater and, while still less than planned, 1,429 tons of stores were landed that day.

    With the beach assault phase completed the RCTs reorganized into infantry regiments and battalions and over the course of the next two days achieved the original D-Day objectives. On the 1st divisional front the 18th Infantry Regiment blocked an attempt by two companies from the 916th and 726th Grenadiers to break out of WN-63 and Colleville, both of which were subsequently taken by the 16th Infantry Regiment which also moved on Port-en-Bessin. The main advance was made by the 18th Infantry Regiment, with the 3rd battalion of the 26th Infantry Regiment attached, south and south eastwards. The heaviest opposition was encountered at Formigny where troops of the 2nd battalion 915th Grenadiers had reinforced the headquarters troops of 2nd battalion 916th Grenadiers. Attempts by 3/26 and B/18 with support from the tanks of B/745 were held off and the town did not fall until the morning of June 8. The threat of an armored counter attack kept the 18th Infantry Regiment on the defensive for the rest of June 8. The 26th Infantry Regiment's three battalions, having been attached to the 16th, 18th and 115th Regiments the previous day, spent June 8 reassembling before pushing eastwards, forcing the 1st battalion of the German 726th Grenadiers to spend the night extricating itself from the pocket thus forming between Bayeux and Port-en-Bessin. By the morning of June 9 the 1st Division had established contact with the British XXX Corps, thus linking Omaha with Gold Beach.

    On the 29th divisional front two battalions of the 116th Infantry Regiment cleared the last defenders from the bluffs while the remaining 116th battalion joined the Rangers in their move west along the coast. This force relieved the 2nd Ranger companies who were holding Pointe du Hoc on June 8 and subsequently forced the German 914th Grenadiers and the 439th Ost-Battalion to withdraw from the Grandcamp area which lay further to the west. Early on June 7 WN-69 defending St. Laurent was abandoned and the 115th Infantry Regiment was therefore able to push inland to the south west, reaching the Formigny area on the June 7 and the original D-Day phase line the following day. The third regiment of 29th Division; the 175th, started landing on June 7. By the morning of June 9 this regiment had taken Isigny and on the evening of the following day forward patrols established contact with the 101st Airborne Division, thus linking Omaha with Utah Beach.

    In the meantime, the original defender at Omaha, the 352nd Division, was being steadily reduced. By the morning of June 9 the division was reported as having been "...reduced to 'small groups'..." while the 726th Grenadier Regiment had "...practically disappeared." By June 11 the effectiveness of the 352nd was regarded as "very slight", and by June 14 the German corps command was reporting the 352nd as completely used up and needing to be removed from the line.

    Once the beachhead had been secured Omaha Beach became the location of one of the two Mulberry harbors, prefabricated artificial harbors towed in pieces across the English Channel and assembled just off shore. Construction of 'Mulberry A' at Omaha began the day after D-Day with the scuttling of ships to form a breakwater. By D+10 the harbor became operational when the first pier was completed; LST 342 docking and unloading 78 vehicles in 38 minutes. Three days later the worst storm to hit Normandy in 40 years began to blow, raging for three days and not abating until the night of June 22. The harbor was so completely wrecked that the decision was taken not to repair it; supplies being subsequently landed directly on the beach until fixed port facilities were captured. In the few days that the harbor was operational 11,000 troops, 2,000 vehicles and 9,000 tons of equipment and supplies were brought ashore. Over the 100 days following D-Day more than 1,000,000 tons of supplies, 100,000 vehicles and 600,000 men were landed, and 93,000 casualties were evacuated, via Omaha Beach.

    Today at Omaha jagged remains of the harbor can be seen at low tide. The shingle bank is no longer there, cleared by engineers in the days following D-Day to facilitate the landing of supplies. The beachfront is more built up and the beach road extended, villages have grown and merged, but the geography of the beach remains as it was and the remains of the coastal defenses can still be visited.[96] At the top of the bluff overlooking Omaha near Colleville is the American cemetery.

    Omaha Beach - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    First the Beach as it looked on D-Day

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    And the Beach today.

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    The memorial on Omaha Beach.

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  18. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't already - go the Island of Jersey for a day-or-two. Off season. The food is great and there are some great German concrete offensive positions (small scale) and a very large underground hospital that Russian slave labour carved out for the Nazis.


    I spent a lucky month or so back in the seventies working there ..... check it out :)

    MM
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    What a great "tour" you had and great photos, Thanks for posting them (looking forward to more)!
     
  20. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Love the photos of the American beaches, especially Utah, the place where my father came ashore on D-Day!

    Need to get there someday, hopefully after I make my last college tuition payment!

    TO
     
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