The Normandy landings were one of the most important operations in the Second World War and were the largest seaborne invasion in history. The planning, the logistics, the prior mistakes, and learning (like the disastrous Raid on Dieppe) are impressive. The landings at D-Day were combined Anglo-Canadian and American operations.
The combined landing Anglo-Canadian force was about the same as the American force, although at this stage in the war, most of the ships were British (the bulk of the American Navy was off in the Pacific fighting the Japanese). Of the five beaches taken on the first day and the two that were assigned to the Americans, Ohama was the most bloody and difficult.
About The Normandy Landings
The Normandy landings were Codenamed Operation Neptune and part of Operation Overlord. The successful landings here laid the foundations of crushing the Nazi Germans on the Western Front.
- Date: 6 June 1944
- Preceded By: Massive Aerial And Naval Bombardment And 24,000 Allied Airborne Troops
- Target: 50 Miles Of Normandy Coastline
- Five Sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, And Sword
- Outcome: Allied Victory (Although Apart From Establishing The Beach Heads, None Of The Objectives Were Met)
Perhaps of the five beaches, it is Omaha Beach with its high cliffs and high causalities that it the most remembered and depicted the most in movies. Both the first and second waves landed to scenes of chaos, death, and destruction. This extended to the important combat engineers who were tasked with clearing the exits and marking the beaches. They ended up landing off-target and without their equipment. The fog of war.
Adding to the chaos, many of the half-tracks and other motorized equipment foundered in the water. Those managing to wade ashore were packed, in the open, and trapped - perfect targets for the dug-in (if not shell-shocked) German defenders. Most of the radios were lost and organization of the pinned down and frighten soldiers was difficult. Commanders could only command in their immediate vicinity. Personal weapons, now dragged through the salty surf and sand needed to be cleaned before use. Many groups became leaderless and demoralized.
- Length Of Coast: "Omaha" Was 5 Miles Of Coast
- US Units: V Corps (1st Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division, And The US Army Rangers)
- Number of US Infantry: 43,000
- Opposing German Soldiers: 7,800
- German Units: 352nd Infantry Division
Visiting Omaha Beach
Today it is very simple and straightforward to visit Omaha Beach. It is now home to some impressive war memorials and a museum with artillery weapons from the battle. Importantly, there is the American cemetery of Colleville Sur Mer just above Omaha Beach. Travel to the nearby town of Bayeux and there is a large War Museum allowing for a deep dive into the climactic battle.
One can visit on a self-tour or with a guided tour. One can easily drive straight to the beach and the memorials.
The Omaha Beach Museum
The Memorial Museum of Omaha beach is at the American landings that took place and displays the equipment used by the soldiers. It exhibits the vehicles, personal objects, uniforms, weapons, tanks, and other equipment. This museum is focused on the American side of the battle. It is about landing here at Omaha and not the three undertook by the British and Canadians. The reconstitutions at the museum are those of Americans and Germans. The museum also has a moving film featuring veteran American testimonies of their experiences.
- Opening Hours: The Opening Hours Vary Throughout The Year But Range From Opening At 9.30 to 10.00 am And Closing 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm
- Closed: The Museum is Closed During December And January
- Cost Of Admission: 7.20 € or Around $8
As one travels along the Normandy coastline, there are other museums and monuments to see.
- Other Museums To Visit Not Part Of Omaha: Utah Beach Museum, Juno Beach Center, Gold Beach Museum, Caen Memorial
Cemetery Of Colleville Sur Mer
It has the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial by Omaha Beach. It is to honor the brave American troops that fought for the liberation of the continent. This can be a moving and emotional experience. So like with other war memorials in the US like the war memorial at Pearl Harbor and the war memorial at Gettysburg (America's deadliest battle), one should be prepared.
- Size: Over 172 Acres
- Number Of Graves: 9,388
- Number of Annual Visitors: 1 Million
- Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Omaha Beach is one of the defining moments for the Americans during World War Two. It has helped shape American identity and how they think about the war in Europe. It is a landing that nearly went disastrously and was only salvaged by the bravery, ingenuity, and determination of the landing forces.