Saturday, 29 June 2013

Normandy trip – day 2 – Longues and Arromanches

Next stop the German batteries at Longues, situated between Omaha and Gold beaches. Four 152 mm guns in casemates. Well actually three now, well rusted, as one of the bunkers blew up after they were captured.
Last stop of this packed day was at the Embarkation Museum at Arromanches. Another excellent museum, mainly concerned with the pre-fabricated artificial harbour built outside Arromanches. Lots of excellent scale models of the harbour, how it was built, how embarkation was handled, etc. We were rather short on time unfortunately. I enjoyed the exhibitions and film and I only took three pictures in the museum.
This is it, a British infantryman with life vest.
A 25pdr on guard outside the museum. Great confusion about these guns, I saw them depicted as 84, 88 and 94 mm. 88 mm is correct to my knowledge.
Another 88 mm, the real thing this time…
Allied heavy artillery
Remains of the harbour
That was day two. After this we went ‘home’ to the hotel, and enjoyed a dinner together.

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1

Friday, 28 June 2013

Normandy trip – day 2 – Port-en-Bessin and Memorial

After Pointe du Hoc the bus took us down to a road going along Omaha beach, but disappointingly we didn’t have a chance to go down on the beach, and everywhere there were condos... I even forgot to take any pictures from the bus.
Then for a lunch in Port-en-Bessin, and I had my first cider. Excellent stuff!!
But before the lunch, look what I found!
The port itself
An old fort overlooking the sea
Turbulent seas
Next stop the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville. A beautiful cemetery, and at the same time so very depressing.
The dark side of war…
Joseph B. Myers from District of Columbia didn't make it home. He was just one of many that didn't get a chance to live a long and fruitful life. One of more than 9000 buried here. Someone honoured him with a flower.
No, I don't know who he was, but it doesn't matter.
The Memorial
The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves
Omaha beach seen from the cemetery
Day two to be continued.

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Normandy trip – day 2 – Pointe du Hoc

Next stop on day two was Pointe du Hoc, sort of between Utah and Omaha beaches. It’s a steep cliff where the Germans were supposed to have an artillery battery. They had had a battery of six 155 mm guns there, in open topped emplacements, but these were bombed earlier and the Germans started building covered bunkers and removed the guns to avoid losses. This was unknown by the allies, and they planned heavy bombardment and an attack by US Rangers. The latter were supposed to embark, scale the cliffs and attack. Everything went downhill from the beginning. 2/3 of the Rangers didn’t show up, the grappling hooks didn’t get all the way up… Anyway the Rangers did what Rangers are supposed to do; they scaled the cliffs, attacked the troops present, secured the area, survived counterattacks and were cut off for far too long. Read more on Wikipedia.
A dramatic view of Pointe du Hoc in the distance. The weather was something like it was that day 69 years ago.
The top off the cliff was heavily bombarded, and the craters are still there but covered with grass. It must have been hell up there…
One of the emplacements
View towards the monument
One of the gun-bunkers under construction
Splendid view from the observation and machine gun bunker just by the cliff side. The monument is on top of this bunker
The monument, a granite dagger
A steep drop
The way this site is preserved makes it rather unique, and it is a must if you ever make a battlefield tour in these parts. Very good!

Even more of day two to come soon…

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1

Monday, 24 June 2013

Normandy trip – day 2 – the beaches

Day two started with a short visit at Sainte-Mère-Église, where American paras dropped on top of German troops.
A poor para still hangs from the church tower. His real counterpart got stuck there, and survived by pretending to be dead, while a battle raged around him.
A well preserved Sherman outside the local museum. We didn’t have time to visit this one unfortunately.
An American gun. Don’t know which type, but it is obviously an AA. 3 inch? I saw the same type on several other places.
The French resistance visits

After that we went to the beach. Utah beach to be more precise.
Can’t go many meters without stumbling over a Sherman.

First view of the sea. Our guide leads the way.
More beach, not much cover for attacker or defender.
One of the bunkers. This one was armed with a gun giving flanking fire.

Next stop was a museum by the beach, missed the name of this one. Very nice, and well worth a visit.
A German wicker case for spent cartridges. I guess they had other things than recycling on their minds that day.
German camo
A saddle from horse drawn artillery. Good inspiration for the horses from the Revell artillery set I built before.
A tracked landing craft
A B-26. Fantastic.
A heavy truck, 2 ½ ton I think.
Landing craft
.50 cal
Beach defence, with a 75mm PAK
and an emplaced tank turret way past its best before date
A DUKW. Cool. I rode in one 35 years ago on Jersey, and took some crappy photos of the details with my then very crappy camera.  I’ve been irritated about that since then. Nice to see one again… and take more close ups. Better result this time.
This guy understands how to use a gun barrel.
Day two to be continued…

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1