Picking back up with my Fall 2014 London/Paris Trip, on day 5 we boarded the EuroStar at St Pancras Station in London and trained to Paris. The EuroStar station at St Pancras is ultra-modern and lovely, unlike most American train stations. It was a tad over a 3-hour high-speed train ride that makes Amtrak Acela look and feel like a horse-and-buggy experience.
We stayed at the Hotel Edouard 7 on Avenue d L’Opera just down the street from the Paris Opera House (more on that later).
On Day 6 we left the hotel at 7:00 am for the 3-hour car ride to Normandy. Our first stop was the 360 Circular Cinema at Arromanches where we watched a movie short on the invasion shown on large circular screens.
Next we visited the Arromanches museum to get an overview of the preparation for and details of the D-Day invasion.
During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans.
The engineering support required to prepare for the invasion was historic, with huge artificial harbors being constructed and much of the work having to be done in secret. Some remnants of the cement harbors remain today.
After the Arromanches museum, we drove to see some of the inland (approximately 12 miles inland) big gun bunkers that the Germans had built to bombard the invading force. Many of the bunkers remain intact.
Our final stop for the day was the American Cemetery in Colleville-Sur-Mer – one of the most moving places I have ever been. You first go through a museum, then to the cemetery where over 9000 Americans are buried and from there you have a broad view down over the beaches.
I am glad that I got to see Normandy and to get a better understanding of what men who fought there went through and the sacrifices they made.
I have shared a few pictures that my family took while we were there.
Today my thoughts are with our friends in Paris in dealing with the horrible events of the attack on January 7, 2015.
Bill Powers is the author of The Pharm House a debut suspense/thriller from DonnaInk Publications.
Visit my website at http://www.authorbillpowers.com