After Dad and I had been round Pointe Du Hoc we drove the couple of miles down the coast to the most westerly part of Omaha beach, one of the two American landing beaches and the beach that saw the greatest casualties on D Day. The road down to the beach was down one of the draws that the US infantry fought so hard to clear to open the exits off the beach.
Our first task was to get a bite to eat, unfortunately the restaurant was closed so we made do with the burger van. It also gave me a chance to try out my abysmal French, despite studying it for 5 years at high school I never mastered the language but I always try my best to make the effort when in France.
Sitting down on a plastic chair enjoying my food looking at a mostly deserted beach with a distinctly ‘Blackpool- at- the- end- of- season’ feel to it I was struck by the incongruous situation trying to imagine in my mind’s eye what had occurred on the beach some 73 years earlier, it certainly gave me pause for thought.
After we ate we walked back up the draw to the fantastic little museum ‘Omaha D Day museum’ that was the late work of a local who had grown up in the area immediately after WW2.
The painted sign for the museum with a 150mm German infantry gun in front of it.
The outside grounds of the museum had a variety of bits of equipment, mostly guns, in various stats of repair and conservation including this American 105mm howitzer.
This naval gun of unknown provenance had seen better days.
The well known German 88mm FLAK 36 mounted on its wheels.
The inside of the museum was crammed with every space taken up with exhibits including this selection of German weaponry.
A large diorama of 6 June 1944.
A selection of Allied radios
A German LMG on an anti aircraft mount.
An American M29 Weasel and other American weapons.
A Flakvieriling 38 without its gun shield.
A pair of mannequins in German Luftwaffe uniforms and the engine of a Focke Wolf 190. The MG barrel that can be seen, the one stacked vertically, is from a Messerschmidt Me410 remote control rear facing mount.
Down the left hand side of the draw back down to Omaha beach is a long section of Mulberry roadway.
Omaha beach had its own Mulberry harbour that was wrecked and not rebuilt after the storm of 19 June, the surviving caisson is used for a pedestrian pier.
The view from just behind an Anti Tank gun bunker looking eastwards along the beach. The bunker has now been rebuilt as a memorial but it is clear that it was sited in a commanding position.
Walking along the beach it was clear how much of an obstacle the bluff would have been. The houses had been cleared as part of the beach defenses but these post war buildings give a sense of scale.
The 4km beach is very flat and it is easy to see why it was chosen as a landing beach, however with the exits from the beach being limited to the draws it is easy to see how easy it would be to defend it.
In the rough centre of the beach is this recent sculpture…
… and this slightly older memorial.
On the way back we paid our respects at the site of the first US cemetery. It was not intended that one be placed on the beach in front of the bluff but such were the casualties at Omaha beach one was established as a temporary measure. The bodies interred were subsequently moved to the large US cemetery further inland.
As the tide receded further on the now quiet beach more remains of the Mulberry harbour became visible.