I visited the main US cemetery, Normandy, Utah, Omaha and other important landing sites used during the war. I also visited museums as well as important towns like Calais, St. Mary Eglise and various sites important and the coast where forces landed during the invasion
I happened to be in the right place at the right time a while back and found myself on a tour of World War II battle sites on the coast of France. I normally don’t travel with a group but since they were going and the price was right I figured, “Why not”. We started in Calais and headed to our hotel in Caen to check in. The events are in no particular order, I’m just writing as I remember it.
If you ever find yourself on the west coast of France near the battle sites I urge you to visit all these sites as these events were awe inspiring. It covers almost 173 acres, 9387 burials and 1557 missing in action. I went in to the memorial building near the entrance and spent several hours reading, watching movies, speaking with the staff.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.
“The memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing large maps and narratives of the military operations; at the center is the bronze statue, “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” An orientation table overlooking the beach depicts the landings in Normandy. Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool; beyond is the burial area with a circular chapel and, at the far end, granite statues representing the United States and France.
In 2007, the Normandy Visitors Center opened.The $30 million visitor center was dedicated by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) on June 6, 2007 during the commemoration of the 63rd Anniversary of D-Day. The center is sited in a wooded area of the cemetery approximately 100 meters east of the Garden of the Missing. Learn more about the architecture, exhibits, inscriptions, and the project team.
Normandy is ABMC’s most visited cemetery, receiving approximately one million visitors each year.
I took loads of photos during my tour and you can see them here: