On the way we drove along the coast road, past the access to Omaha Beach, the US Cemetery and Pointe du Hoc.
The town square today contains flower beds and seats facing the Cathedral. On the night of 5th June it was alive with American paras landing, Germans trying to shoot them and locals fighting a fire that was on the site of the present Airborne museum. There is a dress makers dummy dressed in combats suspended from the Cathedral roof by his parachute to remind us of Pte Steele who found himself in this unfortunate position on that night.
|Ste. Mere Eglise Cathedral. With a dummy hanging from his tatty white parachute canopy. In reality Pte Steele was caught on the opposite face of the tower (Out of view to the action taking place in the square) hence why he survived to become a POW.|
|The Internet Cafe in an old communications bunker alongside the Roosevelt Cafe.|
The museum was closed for refurbishment (in fact it was totally gutted and we couldn't see it opening in time for the main holiday season!).
|Utah Beach Museum....in bits|
|Utah beach is large, windswept and the sand dunes are transient. Here a bunker has almost been reclaimed by nature.|
Just a little way along the beach we found Strongpoint Wn8 abandoned amongst the sand dunes, which I have to say was absolutely fascinating to explore. This strongpoint should have met the planned assault landings, but by a quirk of fate it had been missed. This may explain the overall lack of damage as it was largely bypassed and could have been assaulted from inland at the attackers leisure.
A little further on was a well worn example of a M4 Sherman at Exit 4 where Free French General LeClerc landed later on 6th June.
|The museum is housed in two buildings, both designed to look like parachute canopies. The one here houses the Waco Glider. The exhibits in the other are centred around yet another preserved C47 Skytrain (Dakota).|
|Again the usual selection of US armoured vehicles were on show. This rather impressive 76mm armed M3A4E8 would not have been used in Normandy as the HVSS suspension equipped Shermans didn't enter service until December 1944.|
|The C47 was surrounded by dressed mannequins portraying the preparations back in the UK prior to setting off for Normandy on the night of the 5/6th June 1944.|