This must have been an utterly terrifying place on earth to be on the dawn of 6th June 1944. Omaha Beach and that whole area of the French coastline is covered with the scars of warfare.
as I stood on the same beach in 2018, utterly open and without the tiniest scrap of cover, it brings home to anyone standing there that the first wave of troops probably never stood a chance in 1944.
And the chances are, they knew it, yet they did it anyway.
Further along to the western area of the coast, I also visited the excavated Maisy Battery, just one of the many reinforced emplacements that on D Day was the home to German troops assigned to defend the coast from invasion.
That was another emotional place to experience, which I’ll write about another time.
This beautiful, stainless steel sculpture stands proudly on the pristine white beach. It was high tide on the day I visited and the waves were gently washing around the base of the 15 tonne structure known as Les Braves, created by artist Anilore Banon
A plaque gives more details of the sculpture, with the simple headline “In Tribute to those whose bravery allowed to separate light from darkness.”
In this modern, technology driven age of warfare, with air strikes of surgical precision and drones able to sit overhead and wait for the call, the coast of Northern France is a chilling reminder that, on 6th of June 1944, it was weight of numbers and an acceptance of the sacrifice that was going to be forthcoming that eventually overcame the German defences.
Today, the coastline is rebuilt, a tourist attraction and the beautiful, clean white sandy beaches hide the pain and suffering that took place here in 1944.
The next time you’re travelling into France from the UK, don’t head straight for the south and the sunshine. Instead, pause a few hours and take in the enormity of what took place here in 1944.
It won’t take you long and I promise, you’ll feel a better person for doing so.