Omaha Beach Memorial © Gind2005
Early on 6 June, 1944, the largest armada ever known left England's south coast and set off to liberate France. Shortly thereafter British, American and Canadian soldiers began landing on the Normandy beaches. Today, World War II veterans and their families walk along the same beaches once codenamed Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah and Omaha. A good place to start a battlefield tour is at Arromanches-les-Bains, a few miles northeast of Bayeux. After it was taken by the British 50th Division, this small fishing village was turned into a mammoth military harbour using a prefabricated port that was towed across the Channel. Two and a half million men and 500,000 vehicles landed here. The wreckage of 'Mulberry Harbour' remains just off the beach. A little down the coast are Omaha and Utah, the beaches where the US Division famously landed. The cliffs are still pitted with German bunkers and shell holes, but otherwise these fairly innocuous beaches show little sign of the bloody battles that took place on them. Many people come to Normandy to pay their respects to the Allied soldiers at the many vast cemeteries along the coast. The cemeteries are still immaculately maintained, and moving places to visit.