Here are pictures from Utah and Omaha beach. Everyone knows what happened here. I won't explain too much because if I did this blog would be never ending. Before the war, these beaches were resort areas. They look beautiful now, but it's hard to imagine what these men saw here. Here are pictures of gliders, which didn't work very well and these men, with hardly any training, had to jump from them. The covering on these gliders is just material and they had to fly from England to France in these. On the high ground of the beaches, we walked through bunkers of the German armies. There are huge craters left that are about 6 feet deep now but if you were to see them when they first got bombed, the craters were 8 feet deeper than what we see today. You can still see the tops of cement which were the top walls to the tunnels the German's built. You can walk all around here, which is kind of dangerous, but very interesting to see. The church pictures here have an interesting story. Two men, who were medics, chose this church to set up a hospital where they cared for the wounded and decided they would treat anyone who came in, even the Germans. Because they were treating two Germans, the church was left alone from any attacks. However, one mortar shot through the roof and landed on the ground, where there is still a crack today. Luckily it was a dudd. The medic's equipment landed in a war zone away from where they landed and so they treated all these men using what they could, even using silk from parachutes. I believe they said, out of the 81 men they treated, they only lost two. There are still a few benches where you can still see spots of blood dripping down them that they couldn't wash up. Apparently, the whole floor was a sea of blood, but they fit 81 men in the tiny 11th century church and the people of Normandy bought a glass window dedicated to these two medics for what they did.
Here we learned all about WW II with the 101st airborne (paratroupers) and Easy company. A lot of this tour was based on the Band of Brothers series. They give you stories about the actual men, what they went through, etc. We have pictures of bunkers, trenches, etc. It was a real eye opener into what these men went through. In Normandy, there are lots of memorials on the side of the road dedicated to the men who lost their lives. There is so much I could say here, but one thing to note is that a lot of the places in Normandy are left just as they were during the war (the places that didn't get bombed, that is). We toured a house here which a lot of famous photographs were taken, and it is left just as it was when the U.S. got the Nazi's out. There is a famous picture where a bunch of men are holding the Nazi flag in front of a building and this is the house where that picture was taken. Nothing has changed in this house. The first picture is of a church where a man was parachuted onto a church and got caught and played dead and survived the attacks. There is a model of a man and a parachute hanging here today. Basically, if you were a paratrouper, you were going to die. Most men didn't land in the area they were supposed to and had to walk in the dark to find their position. Other men landed in water and drowned because their equipment was so heavy. These men of the 101st airborne were to take out the German guns before the other men landed on the beaches of Utah and Omaha. They landed around 2 in the morning and had to take out the guns before the men landed on the beach at 6:30. A house across from the church caught on fire early in the morning and this provided light for the men to find their way into St. Mere Eglaise which is where the first attack happened. The house is still there next to a WWII museum. The water pump, which the civilian men used to help put out the fire is still there and working. We just missed the 66th anniversary of D Day by one week. The people of Normandy are still very greatful and there are American, British and French flags all over the area.