Here is where a group of Army Rangers scaled the cliffs and met heavy German resistance. The Americans defeated the Germans here, but not without suffering very heavy casualties.
You can walk through bunkers and underground shelters used by the Germans. There's still a lot of barbed wire around which gives this place a very authentic feel, even after all these years.
This museum follows the history of the American involvement in Normandy after the landings of 6 June 1944.
There are weapons, uniforms, photographs, and heavy equipment on display.
I learned more from visiting this museum than I have from all the books I've read on WWII and D-Day.
Admission fee is about 5,50 euros.
This is a very intense experience although in the end, we found it very peaceful. I think one should visit if for no other reason than to remain aware of the cost of war.
There were older women there and you could easily imagine they were visiting the grave of their long lost love. There were people there looking for graves of fathers, brothers or sisters. The very young were perhaps looking for grandfathers, uncles or aunts.
There are 9387 graves on 172 acres of land administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It is open every day except Christmas and New Years.
Assault time 06:30
“Bloody Omaha” is the how it is described. Most thing went wrong on this beach. The weather was atrocious and so when the twenty nine DD Tanks were launched only two of them reached the beach. Therefore as the leading landing craft approached the shore they were on their own and suffered heavy casualties. Despite this after many hours of struggle, by the end of the day the American were on the cliffs above the beach.
American 116th IR (attached from 29th Division)
American 16th IR of the 1st Infantry Division.
Objective of the Day
The plan was simply to attack the beach and secure the high ground.
Before the colonnade is a pool with paths along its edges and lateral to that on each side two rows of tall trees. These lead to two areas, each flying an American flag, heading masses of regular rows of Carrera marble grave markers. The markers are mostly Christian crosses with an occasional Star of David. (I did not find a crescent or other symbol of Moslem other faiths). Deep in, between the two blocks of graves is a small classic style circular chapel. We did not have a family member or friend buried here to "visit" and the rain became intense making further study or walking to other more distant monuments feasible.
The American Military Cemetery is headed by a memorial. The entire site was ceded by the French to the US as territory for this purpose. The memorial is a colonnade which faces the burial grounds. The complex lies parallel to the beach to the north. The colonnade is plain with rectangular columns and a loggia at each end. Across the curving beam beam is inscribed a dedication about the freedom delivered because of the ideals and sacrifice of the Americans interred here. A bronze statue symbolizing the "Spirit of American Youth" stands in the middle of the hemispheric area. On the walls of the loggias are mosaic map diagrams of the invasion battle plans indicating the routes of attack that were followed in taking Normandy.
1. Rising up in the middle of two tempelshaped buildings is a magnificent statue. It's called "The Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves".
2. Behind the monumental tempels is a long cresent shaped wall, full of names. Those are all the soldiers missed in action. 1.557, to be exact, that were never found and who's bodies obviousuly were taken by the sea.
3. At the end of the cemetry two sculptures rise up, watching over the wide fields filled with white crosses.
Many more details will keep the memories living on and on and on ...
In the tempels at the head of the cemetry, large images on the wall explain in detail the battle for the Normandy coastline in general and the fighting on Omaha Beach in particular. Towards the sea, where stairs lead down to the beach itselves, another placque tells it's tragic story. Omaha beach was the most difficult place to get ashore. The beach was at low tide very small, yet at high tide very wide. Furthermore the cliffs had to be reached by overcoming a trench shaped canal between the beach and the cliffs. With this the Nazi's had a very good view from many strategic places, that eventually only could be overrun by sheer input of human lives.
The largest of the cemetries along the Normandy coast is situated just above the beaches of Omaha beach. Now-a-days the beaches officialy bare the code names they were given in Operation Overlord, better known as D-day or the Landings in Normandy. Omaha beach had the toughest job to do and by far the most casulaties fell here under the American liberators. The cemetry is 172 hectares large and holds the graves of 9.286 American soldiers. 307 of them bare the text "Here rests in honoured glory a comrad in arms known but to God".
You really must visit the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer. I think it's the biggest American cemetery in Normandie, if not in France, as it contains more than 800 tombs of soldiers dead to set Europe free. It is a very touching experience, also when you see Americans who go there with little children to onorate the memory of a relative. The sea adds to creating a unique atmosphere of peace.
You will find more pictures in my two travelogues.
This museum isn't located in Colleville-Sur-Mer, but is nearby in the small town of St. Laurent Sur Mer.
This is a great museum to learn about World War II and in particular, the American battle on Omaha Beach. It's a short walk from the beach itself. It has weapons, uniforms, vehicles, and a landing craft (which is outside).
There is a small little gift shop, too.