From September 13th to the 16th, my family and I visited the Normandy beaches where D-day took place on June 6th, 1944. While there, I went to many different places including Omaha beach and Pointe Du Hoc.These were two of the places where the U.S.
and allies attacked the Germans. The Americans landed here and had a difficult time getting inland for the Germans had the beaches well defended.
Omaha beach and Pointe Du Hoc have very different landscapes. The wide flat sand and large bluffs of Omaha made it easy for Germans to attack from above and defend once the Americans landed on the beach.
At Pointe Du Hoc the 250 American rangers had no easy feat either; there were sheer cliffs that they had to summit while Germans were shooting down at them. Once again the Nazis had the higher ground. Although both operations suffered many casualties, they both were successful. These landings eventually led to the retaking of Europe and the defeat of Germany.
During my stay in Normandy, I also went to a German base that was apart of the Atlantic Wall. This base was a German defense unit. It bombarded allied troops for three days till the final assault on June 9th, 1944. The attack from the U.S rangers took five hours to completely secure the base. As I walked through it, I saw thick concrete shelters and trenches all over the place.
Each of the shelters had a use. I saw the remains of a small hospital and a radar outpost. Some of the shelters were places were the soldiers could sleep. Inside there were no windows and it was very hard to see because of the darkness. 155mm guns were also placed to attack targets many miles away. While walking through this German base looking at all the
shelters and weapons, I could see why it took so long for the rangers to capture it.
After the war was over, there were many memorials including cemeteries for the dead soldiers who gave their lives for the freedom of other people. At the American cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mer, there are 9,387 graves for the Americans who died throughout World War II in Europe. When I went there, there was a museum all about D-Day and the soldiers who fought and died in the war.
The museum had three sections: Preparation, Determination, and Sacrifice. The soldiers had to prepare for the actual invasion. This included the plans of attack and the training each person had to complete.
Next, in the heat of battle, soldiers were determined to do their job. They did not give up and retreat, but kept pushing. And lastly, the sacrifices they made were many. Being crippled for the rest of your life, both mentally and physically, was sometimes worse than that of dying.
I felt sad after reading the stories about these men and women.
Standing on the beach, I thought about how the soldiers must have felt going out there and possibly not coming back. They had great courage. How their families must have felt when they received a telegram about how their son or daughter had died in the war. I also pondered about what these battle fields looked like during the war. Normandy now shows few battle scars. The view one sees when they look over onto the beach makes it is hard to believe that so many people had died there.