August 23rd, 2010 04:49 AM
My trip to the beaches of Normandy.
First off, mods, if this is more appropriately "Off topic" in your minds, please feel free to move it.
This last weekend was my last in France, so the wife and I decided we needed to get out of the Paris metro area and do something different. We both have family that fought in WWII (as I'm sure most, if not all of our generation does), so we wanted to take the opportunity to go and see Normandy. Another guy, Max, a German in her training class, wanted to go and see it as well. So, we set out Saturday morning, rented a car and made the drive. Unfortunately, the drive there took us WAY longer than it should have, almost double the time. By the time we got to Normandy, most of the main sights were closed; we missed the American Cemetery by 15 min! We ended up looking and walking mainly around Arromanches/Gold Beach and Omaha Beach.
We went first to Gold Beach where there was a 360 degree movie theater that showed about a 20 min film about D-Day. It explained why the beaches were so important to both sides and outlined what Hitler's and the Allied strategies were for keeping/taking the beaches. Then we went up a tiny bluff and got a great view of the entire area; it was a clear day and I'll be we could see for nearly 20 miles in every direction. There was a marker on the bluff that pointed to various D-Day sights and told us why they were important. We walked down the hill into the town of Arromanches. It's a small town, only about 500 people, but this is where the Allies built their artificial port to bring in much of their equipment. After walking along the beach and putting our feet into the English Channel, we went back to the car and drove to Omaha Beach. The drive was about 20 km or so (about 12.5 miles) through winding small towns with houses that you know saw much bloodshed. Omaha Beach was stunning. There wasn't much left from the war where we saw. I had hoped (and thought) that there were still blockades and fencing up. Where we were, none could be seen. We got to get a close up look at a couple of old German Bunkers and walked some paths through the trees to some really cool vistas and plaques. After walking along the beach some more, we decided we should probably get back to Paris. The car needed to be back by midnight and we feared it wold take the 5+ hours to get back as it did to get there. The drive was only supposed to be 3 hours.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see Utah Beach or Pointe Du Hoc. Still, it was a very moving and powerful experience for me. My wife and I had some great conversations regarding what our grandfathers did in the war and what we thought life would have been like back then. Our German friend, Max, was very taken in by everything too. He is also very into the history of the war, so all three of us really loved the trip.
So, we headed back with some great memories, tired muscles and smiles on our faces. The photos I took were mainly of the beaches, since that's really all we saw. They can be found here http://s191.photobucket.com/albums/z...a71c/Normandy/
August 23rd, 2010 05:40 AM
Beautiful places, but places where so much blood was lost.
Great pics, and looks like quite a memorable visit.
Thanks for the pics.
Last edited by RETSUPT99; August 23rd, 2010 at 10:16 PM.
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August 23rd, 2010 10:33 PM
Thanks for noting this.
I'll be in France next month and my boss and i are planning on making the drive out from Paris.
August 23rd, 2010 11:43 PM
I have been trying to talk myself into going to a few places I promised myself I would go some day..... I'm now retired and need to get to it. However, I find it difficult to do. Some are concentration camps, and I know teachers and others who spent time in them,... I've seen the films of them that have never made it to the public, and heard many stories about them from people who were there. My father's unit freed the first concentration camp, so I have heard about it from the GI"s who were there.... and the "boy" who led Eisenhower thru it .... to show him what it was like, etc. I got to spend some time with that "boy" when he was an older man..... and what he told me, I cannot describe here in only a few words. It was something that changed how I viewed many things.... forever.
But, I hope to get there. The level of inhumanity that went on...... that I heard directly from the people who were there, pulls me back, makes me hesitant, but I feel I owe it to them. They lived it.
We owe it to future generations to pass that message ...... that was the one thing that "ALL " of them were quite adamant about.... if we did nothing else, we should make sure the next generations knew what did ... and what "can" happen when Govt gets absolute power and the evil those in power can generate.
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August 24th, 2010 12:38 AM
Very nice pics; thank you . It is hard to forget what happened there.
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August 24th, 2010 05:03 PM
Thank you for the pics. My Grandfather fought there and was luck enough to make it back home... I miss him.
August 25th, 2010 11:23 AM
October 19th, 2010 11:09 PM
My uncle was in the infantry and he landed at Utah and he consider himself very fortunate as when The officers started asking if anyone knew how to drive heavy trucks.Well,my uncle spoke
up and he started driving on trucks on " The Red Ball Express" and he told his buddy you went in at rhe same time he said now they might live and make it home.He told me they would drive
the duce and half just as fast as they would go.The Germans would put mines on the roads and desroy an occasional vehicle,that's how his buddy got it.Out of the whole experience this man
was born and died in a small villiage in Maine and he never left except to go to war for his country.I asked him if he liked to see any of Europe he said only Paris.
October 19th, 2010 11:32 PM
Great pictures! Too bad the logistics prevented a trip to the American Cemetery, but you made it to a historically significant place none the less and have some nice pictures to keep and remember. Too many of us will never have that opportunity. Thanks for sharing your adventure!
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October 20th, 2010 10:40 AM
Thank you for sharing, pcon! I love the photo of the bluffs overlooking Gold Beach. That bluff typifies, in my mind, the courage of the Allied Forces. Thank you.
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