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The modest fishing and resort town of Arromanches was a key toehold for the Allies on June 6. Remnants of so-called "Mulberrys" remain off shore, where the rough seas of the bay were tamed enough to keep ships anchored and maintain a supply chain for the troops.
Visitors to Arromanches, located at what was code named Gold Beach, will appreciate seeing the huge undertaking of the invasion from the cliff top perspective. Interestingly, the town and bay have been important strategically to successive waves of Celts, Gauls and Vikings.
The American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer
Situated above Omaha Beach, the American cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer honors the more than 9,000 servicemen who died during the campaign to liberate Normandy in the summer of 1944.
The 172 acre site is not technically American property, but is owned and run by the American Battlefield Monument Commission. Graves are carefully noted on a grid map for visiting. Troops unaccounted for are honored on a Wall of the Missing.
Omaha Beach was the code name for the main U.S. landing beach during the Normandy D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
Securing the five mile stretch of Omaha was crucial in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach. The Allies were up against the Germany 352nd infantry division, a mix of green troops who had never seen combat and experienced men who had served on the Eastern Front.
It took a full day on June 6, with heavy loss of life to secure just two footholds off the beach along that 5 mile stretch.
The Pointe du Hoc
Strategically located between the American landing beaches Omaha and Utah farther west, La Pointe du Hoc remains virtually unchanged from the day American Army Rangers scaled its sheer cliffs under deadly fire to knock out huge coastal guns they didn't know had been moved.
Pocked by huge craters left by naval bombardment, most of the German bunkers remain. The cliff-side battlefield also offers a scenic view of the French coastline that saw some of the war's fiercest fighting.