After a couple hour drive we arrived at our first stop, which was the village of Sainte-Mère-Église. I was the tour guide because I read about the battle before we came. There we saw the town in which some of the American paratroopers landed. The Germans shot many of the paratroopers as they landed in this town before they even got to the ground. One man, Private John Steele, was caught on the church steeple. They a dummy on the steeple to remember him.
Next we came to Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches. On this landing beach the Americans did very well. They actually landed in the wrong spot, but by God's providence where they actually landed was much less defended. They did not suffer very many casualties here. We walked around and there were several German fortifications still there, and Daddy bumped his head several times in one because the entrance was so low. There were also several monuments to the troops. Both of the landing beaches and the cemetery were given to the United States by France.
Next we went to Point Du Hoc. It was a very large battery built on a rocky cliff with six large cannons. Two hundred U.S. Rangers climbed the cliff and took the battery, and held on for several days until help arrived. When they got up the cliff, they discovered that the guns had either been moved or never put there, but they still had to hold onto the position until they were relieved. At the end, only 90 of the 200 could still fight. The area was covered by huge shell craters from the bombing before the attack. It was one of the only places where the bombs actually hit. This was probably my favorite stop of this entire day. It was misty, so we could not see the cliffs very well but it was still neat. The overcast weather gave a sense of why they had such poor visibility and could not find their way to their meeting location.
Our last stop was Omaha beach. That was the most difficult of all the landing sights. The troops there suffered very heavy casualties. Some platoons were destroyed before they even got off the boat. Finally, after many hours of fighting, they gained the bluffs overlooking the beach where the Germans had put their fortifications. Many soldiers died on this beach. The troops suffered 4,500 casualties here.
We walked on the beach for a little, then drove along it. It is about a mile long! We stopped part way down the beach and climbed the bluff where the Germans had their fortifications. It is much higher than the surrounding ground. When we were climbing up the bluff, we saw a German position that was covered in grass and vines. All you could see was a little hole leading into the ground. We wanted to explore it, but we did not have time. After leaving Omaha Beach we went by the American cemetery, but did not have time to go in. When we got back to the cruise ship, we still had to drop off the car. We walked very fast because we did not want to miss the ship! Fortunately, we got back in plenty of time.