Normandy Tour Day 2 - American Cemetery

Gunner

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I thought I would revive these for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
These are from 2014 when my brothers and nephews took a grand six day tour of Normandy.
I see some of the pictures have issues.
I'll fix those at a later date...
I hope you enjoy the tour



Normandy Tour – Day 2, The American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer

Although on Day 2 we went the cemetery and the to the Beaches but I’m just going to describe the Cemetery in this thread

Day 2 - Omaha & Utah Beaches
Colleville-sur-Mer - US Military Cemetery
Omaha Beach - Dog Green/White Sector - US 29th Infantry Division/US 5th and 2nd Rangers - German Strongpoint
WN70
Omaha Beach - Dog Green Sector - US 29th Infantry Division Monument - German Strongpoint WN72/88mm Gun Emplacement
Pointe du Hoc - US 2nd Rangers
Grandcamp Maisy - Frank Peregory Medal of Honor Memorial (US 29th Div)

Lunch en route

Hiesville - General Maxwell Taylor 10st Airborne HQ
Hiesville - Chateua de Colombieres - 101st Airborne Field Hospital
Utah Beach - Exit 2 - La Madeleine - US 4th and 90th Divisions - General Teddy Roosevelt Jr
Utah Beach - WN10 - Les Dunes de Varaville - Planned assault area
Utah Beach Exit 1 - Poupeville - Gen Taylor and Lt Col Ewell and Lt Mabry (US 4th ID)
La Cambe German Cemetery

Our first stop for the day was the American Cemetery.

To get there we drove down roads with well trimmed bocage on either side.

We arrived at about 9:15am and the sun light felt very much like dawn casting long shadows giving the cemetery and even more solemn feel to it.

As you enter the first thing you see is the reflecting pool on your left and the colonnade with a 22ft statue entitled “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waters” on you right.

Gary took us through the cemetery telling the story of the cemetery itself and stopping at various grave sites and showing pictures of who is buried there and what their stories were. (I had stopped typing for a moment remembering these moments).

There was the story of one of a few women who are buried there, the story of the brothers who perhaps Saving Private Ryan was based on, the story of a Medal of Honor recipient and quite a few more.

Graves of Medal of Honor winners are etched in gold.

The cemetery is actually on a bed of concrete with the graves inlaid and square holes for the crosses to be inserted thus insuring completely flat grass and perfectly aligned crosses.

The trees and shrubs in scattered among the head stones are actual buried German fortifications.

There is a intentional gap left in the trees at the opposite end of the cemetery. Through that view you can see the opposite end of Omaha Beach.

It was here that I caught my first glimpse of the English Channel. (Another bucket list item achieved) I didn’t realize that the cemetery is located on the bluff directly above Omaha Beach.

It was on a Sunday when we visited and at one point off in the distance taps was played. Everyone came to a stop, removed their hats and placed their hands on their hearts all looking towards the sound of the bugle.

It was quite a moment.







Sleepy Colleville-sur-Mer.
In Normandy every town no matter what the size had its own church.
They all seemed to be built sometime in the middle ages usually around 1000 to 1200.
(Of course most of the steeples were blown up during the battle)
In fact all of Normandy had that middle ages feel about it.
(On one of the days we stopped by the birthplace (Castle) of William the Conqueror.}



Well trimmed bocage


http://s1292.photobucket.com/user/tramos16/media/France Day 2/P1000138_zps2080f416.jpg.html
The reflecting pool



The statue at the colonnade



10,000 markers


The islands of trees are actual German strong points.



Not all of the casualties were men. Elizabeth A. Richardson is one of the four women buried here. Elizabeth volunteered to serve in the Red Cross and was assigned to a Clubmobile that provided coffee, freshly made doughnuts, chewing gum, cigarettes, magazines, newspapers, and records to GIs while they were in the field. But their real responsibility was to boost the spirits of the soldiers by chatting with them. Elizabeth wrote to her parents, "If you only knew what combat does to these boys--not in the physical sense, although that's bad enough--but mentally." The job required the women to be single, college graduates, and at least 25 years of age. They were expected to be skilled at interpersonal relations and only one in six of the applicants was selected for the Red Cross Clubmobiles.

Elizabeth died on the morning of July 25, 1945 while en route from Le Havre to Paris. Both the pilot of the two seat military plane, Sgt. William R. Miller of the Ninth Air Force, and Elizabeth were killed instantly. She was only 27 yeas old.


Gary tells the story of a father and son who are buried side by side.




My first glimpse of the English Channel.



Frank D. Peregory, Medal of Honor winner.
Later in the tour we were to follow his attack, an amazing story.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_D._Peregory



The gap in the trees showing the opposite end of Omaha Beach

A view from an emplacement.


The Niland brothers story that (perhaps) Private Ryan was based on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niland_brothers



God Rest Their Souls


Theodore Roosevelt’s Grave, one of three Medal of Honor recipients buried here.
His brother Quentin, shot down during aerial combat over France on Bastille Day 1918, is in the grave next to him, unforunately the picture on both graves didn't turn out well.


From the edge of the Cemetery looking down on Omaha Beach


A table explaining the landings

 
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Gunner

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The Wall of Names of the Missing
There are bronze rosettes next to the names that mark soldiers whose remains have been found in the 65 years since the D-Day invasion.
To this day bodies are still being found both on land and at sea.

 
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Richtig

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Fabulous post mate. Thank you for sharing. Still on my bucket list sadly, so great to get a sneak preview.
 

Gunner

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At the colonade there are maps on wither side....

One side depicts the invasion of Normandy


The other fro June 44 to the end in May 45
 
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Lighthorse

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Thanks for your posting.
Hope in a few years to do the same trip as you.
 

fabishd

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Thank you for this gracious posting. Your memories of this trip and the pictures must be an awesome experience that you will never forget.
 

Gunner

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eniced73,
I'm glad you enjoy the pics.
I realized the pics just didn't bring across what took place and felt I should add a little more of what happened so in the following posts I'll cut excerpts from various sources and post them before I put the pictures in.
Perhaps a little before and after pics will help bring things to life also.

I too thought I would never be taking the journey to Normandy.
I'm 58 and my brothers are 61 and 65 and we finally made it. as we say it was a trip of a life time.
We were finally in a financial situations where we could afford it and at a point where our wives were glad to be rid of us ;)
 
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