Omaha Beach - the most costly of the D-Day battles. This stretch of beach runs from Vierille-sur-mer to St-Laurent-sur-Mer to Colleville-sur-Mer and it was nature in combination with the Germans that made this landing so difficult. The coastal current that day was so strong that landing craft were swept off course and the shingle on the beaches was at first insurmountable to the heavy armor needed by the Allies.
By evening of June 6th, the Americans had been able to advance and were making headway, but the day had been very difficult and costly - roads were built under heavy sniper fire, Mulberry Harbor A was being built but was lost to the worst storm the area had seen in 40 years less than two weeks later.
The troops from the 116th Regiment of the United States made their entry here at 6:30 am and fought for over 4 hours right here on the beach until they were finally able to rush the Germans and break through. They had taken Vierville-sur-Mer by evening after a German counter attack and built the only exit out of the area with their bulldozers. They worked very hard to connect with the Rangers coming in at Pointe du Hoc to the west and with the British forces coming in on Gold Beach to the east, and in the end they were successful and the goals were achieved. Engineers and their expertise played an important part in this success and were relied on heavily by the troops as they worked toward their goals - monuments to them can be found along the way. By the 7th of June the Germans had left the coastal area of Omaha Beach and the Allies were expanding their zones of influence.
There is a pier at Vierville-sur-Mer that lets you walk out and look back at what the Americans faced that day as they landed - it is a sight that could deter even the most determined of soldiers -
German bunkers stood on top of all these cliffs, and while they may not have been ready for the invasion they responded quickly when they realized what was happening.
Alex, Amanda, and Casey at the end of the pier.
Amanda took this picture of the churning water below the pier - Cool!
Beach defenses put out by the Germans to hamper any attempt to come ashore - these and many other styles of defenses were placed all along the Atlantic Wall. The Americans became tangled up in these obstacles and were easily gunned down by the Germans at first - the first companies coming ashore suffered major casualties....
This sign shows the different sectors of the beach and talks about the Mulberry Harbor that was supposed to have been here except for that storm on June 19th.
Amanda reads us the inscription on the Monument to the 5th Engineer Special Brigade - it is on the remains of a German blockhouse and gives honor to all those who lost their lives while protecting the movements between the landing craft and the beach as well as setting up beach installations and organizing beach exits. Those engineers were busy people with a big job to do.