D-Day: June 6th 1944
The first troops to land in Nazi occupied Europe on D-Day were the British airborne troops who assaulted what was soon to be known as ‘Pegasus Bridge’. Soon after the US 82nd and 101st Airborne landed around the St Mare Eglise area.
Around 07:00 June 6th 1944 the beaches of Normandy were assaulted in the largest combined operation to date. Operation Overlord, popularly called D-Day had begun. ( although every assault is actually a d-day).
In the largest combined operations landing ever, Allied troops were were brought ashore on the Normandy coast, at the beaches of Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah. US Rangers climbed the cliffs at Pont Du Hoc tasked with disabling the German battery which threatened these beaches.
By a combination of surprise, partially caused by a campaign of deception carried out by the Allies, good planning and acts of individual heroism and determination the D-Day landings were successful, gaining the Allies a beachhead on in Normandy.
By August more than 3 Million troops had been brought ashore across the beaches of Normandy.
There are also ample campsites in Normandy, along with, hotels and guest houses; although at peak anniversaries these book up early.
During the peak period, which coincides with the celebrations of the landings, there are many events taking place to remember D-Day.
Lying on the northern coast of France, Normandy is a region steeped in history. The Normandy coastline has was inspiration to early Impresionalist artists.
It was from here that in 1066, an amphibious invasion of England was carried out, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Almost 900 years later the route of this invasion was reversed.
Normandy has since become a prime travel destination for military history enthusiasts, veterans and their families. The region is well served with good roads and enough museums and places of interest to keep you busy.
What to see in Normandy
Visitors are advised to make the Tourist Information Centre their first stop.
Here you can pick up free guides to the region and buy your discounted ‘Normandy Carte’, which gets discounts at many museums.
No matter how many times you visit the region, there will always be something new for you to see. However; for people on a tight schedule, the places below will provide a feel of the area:
Arromanches: Home to the British Mulberry harbour. See the Mulberry Harbour Museum and ‘Normandy 360’ cinema.
Pegasus Bridge: Assaulted by British glider troops. See also the Airborne museum and Cafe Gondree.
St Mare Eglise: This town comes alive in the summer and is a focal point for US airborne enthusiasts. See the Airborne Museum and church.
Omaha Beach: ‘Bloody Omaha’ as it came to be known still has the remains of landing craft. See also the US Cemetery.