65th Anniversary D-Day Landings: 6 June 1944

"We will never forget" "Nous n'oublions jamais"

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June 2009 marks the 65th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, which took place on 6th June 1944.  "Operation Overlord" on the Normandy coast was the largest operation of combined military forces in the history of mankind.

Under the command of General Omar Bradley, the 1st American Army was to land between Ste-Honorine and St-Martin-de-Varreville, on the beaches code-named "Omaha" and "Utah".  Commanded by General Dempsey, the 2nd British Army and the 3rd Canadian infantry division were to land on the west coast of Calvados, between Colleville and Le Hamel, on the beaches code-named "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword".

Colonel Rudder was in command of the 2nd Ranger batallion, attacking at Point du Hoc and suffering tremendous losses in the process.  The historic 5-Beach Assault and surrounding battles have been depicted in several films, including "Saving Private Ryan" and "The Longest Day".

By 4pm on June 6th, Bristish tanks began arriving at Arromanches from "Gold" Beach; and on 7th June, along with the 47th Royal Marine Commando, began development of the famous artificial harbour known as "Mulberry B" or "Winston Harbour".  This enabled 2,500 000 men, 54 000 vehicles plus 104 000 metric tons of supplies to be transported in 100 days via Arromanches.

The historical city of Bayeux was liberated on June 7th by the British 56th Independent Brigade.  It had become a huge housing centre for evacuated populations, as well as providing a relaxation area away from the front for allied soldiers; and today is known as the "Capital of the Battle of Normandy". Caen, on the other hand, was not liberated until July 20th, following bitter fighting and a British loss of 10 000 men.  In addition, 3 000 civilian victims were counted amongst the ruins of the city.

Cherbourg found liberation on June 26th, following assaults by three American divisions.   In November 1944, Cherbourg became the largest port operated by the American Army.  By 17th August, fighting was still continuing in the already destroyed city of Falaise.  The final resistance consisted of 60 Hitlerjugen, some of whom were in the school on the rue St Jean.

Val-Saint-Pere was liberated at the beginning of August by the G.I's of the U.S. Vlllth Corps coming from Avranches.  The American 1st Army then spread through Brittany, and extended to Le Mans to reach the Seine river by August 19th and Paris by August 25th.

There are several War Museums around the region, all of which have very extensive archival documentation and photographs, weapons, vehicles, battle maps, memorabilia etc.  In addition, war memorabilia can be found in the local "Depot Vente" / "Brocante" shops.

Several Military Cemeteries are sited in Normandy, covering British, American, Canadian, Polish and German losses.  The famous Cemetery at Colleville-St-Laurent between Arromanches and Grandcamp has 9 386 American graves, and the British Cemeteries total over 17 000 graves.  The German Cemeteries in the region total nearly 78 000 graves.

St Michel de Montjoie offers an ideal situation for those wishing to visit the D-Day Landings during their holiday.  In addition, the peaceful setting provides the perfect base from where you can also visit Le Mont St Michel and the Emerald Coast.

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