What are the most important D-Day Sites, Memorials and Museums?
The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum in Bayeux tells of the story of the World War II battle which loosened Germany’s grasp on Europe and paved the way for an allied victory. Taking a chronological approach, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum begins in the period prior to the initial assault, through to the infamous Normandy Landings on D-Day up to 29 August 1944. Displaying military objects from the time, including weaponry and uniforms, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum offers an overview of the battle and an insight into the events, including a 25 minute film.
St-Mère-Eglise was the site where American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions landed between 5 and 6 June 1944 and is today the home of Musee Airborne. Comprised of three main buildings, one of which is shaped like a parachute, Musee Airborne, also known as St-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum, houses original aircraft from the Normandy landings, including a Waco Glider and the Douglas C-47 plane Argonia together with weaponry, photographs, documentation and a film about the landings.
The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial commemorates the American Second Ranger Battalion who fought there on 6 June 1944 as part of the D-Day landings in World War II. Pointe Du Hoc overlooks Omaha Beach, which was a vital landing point for Allied troops during the D-Day operation. Led by Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder, the Second Ranger Battalion was tasked with capturing German artillery at Pointe Du Hoc to ensure the safety of the troops landing on the beaches below. Constructed by the French and now managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is a reminder of the heroism of the Rangers and the forced involved in the Normandy landings. The area surrounding the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is also historically fascinating, littered by bomb craters, it is preserved in much the same state as it was immediately following D-Day.
The Omaha Beach Museum tells the story of the D-Day Landings there on 6 June 1944. Spanning an area of 10km, the Omaha Beach assault was the largest of the Normandy Landings and included, amongst others, the US 29th Division, the 1st US Division (Big Red) and the US 2nd Division. The Omaha Beach assault suffered several setbacks, including the fact that the area was unexpectedly well-defended by the Germans and that many soldiers did not land at their intended targets. Through a series of exhibits, including dioramas, military uniforms, testimonials and photographs, the Omaha Beach Museum traces the events of the assault on Omaha Beach and Pont Du Hoc.
The Pegasus Bridge Museum, officially known as Memorial Pegasus, in Normandy houses the famous Pegasus Bridge, which was captured by British forces on the night of 5-6 June 1944 during World War II. The capture of Pegasus Bridge was carried out in order to protect the eastern flank of the landing operations at Sword Beach as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Northern Europe. It played a vital role in aiding this attack. Visitors to the Pegasus Bridge Museum can not only learn about the events of the capture of this important strategic point, but also about the forces which carried it out, the British 6th Airborne Division.
The Juno Beach Centre, also known as the Normandy Canadian Museum, chronicles the Canadian contribution to the war effort during World War II. Based in the location assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division in the D-Day Landings, the Juno Beach Centre focuses especially on the events which took place on 6 June 1944, whereby Canadian forces took part in the invasion of Normandy. From photographs and documents to multimedia presentations and even a tour of the D-Day landing site and bunker, the Juno Beach Centre looks not only at the Canadian efforts in World War II, but paints a portrait of modern Canada.
Pegasus Bridge, originally known as Caen Canal Bridge, was captured by Allied forces under cover of darkness just before D-Day to protect the soldiers who would land at Sword Beach from German attack. The original bridge is now located in its own museum, a new one in its place, but the site of this historic action is worth a visit.
8. Sword Beach
Sword Beach (Ouistreham) in Normandy, France was one of the sites of the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, D-day. Assigned to units of the British 3rd Division, the landings at Sword Beach were the most eastern part of Operation Overlord, the allied offensive which led to the liberation of German-occupied France and subsequently Europe in World War II.
The Utah Beach Memorial is an American monument in Normandy which commemorates the World War II D-Day Landings. It was the US 4th Infantry Division, part of the VII Corps, who landed on Utah Beach. Comprised of a granite obelisk, the memorial is a monument to the achievements of this division and their successful landings.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is the burial site of 9,387 US military personnel who fought and died in World War Two. Most of the graves at the Normandy American Cemetery belong to participants in the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day.