Wednesday 26 March 2014

70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy

Posted by Rosie

Image from the BBC
June 6th 1944 saw the beginning of the Allied invasion of occupied Europe as thousands of troupes landed on the 200kms of Normandy beaches between Cherbourg and Le Havre at what is now know to be the first step along the road that would end the war in Europe the following year.  The names of the beaches, etched in the minds of so many and made famous by films such as Band of Brothers are the most local beaches to Eco-Gites of Lenault.  June and Sword are the closest, situated east and west of Caen/Ouistreham whilst travelling further west and north there are Gold, Omaha and Utah, all still within easy reach of the gite.

2014 therefore sees the 70th Anniversary of this pivotal point in the history of Europe and not unsurprisingly there are many celebrations planned.   This page by Brittany Ferries gives full details of all the events as well as guides to WWII sites, cemeteries, cities, museums, the beaches and memorials.  Below I have highlighted some of the main events and those taking place close to Eco-Gites of Lenault.

D-Day Landing Events close to Eco-Gites of Lenault

  • February to December - at the Juno Beach Center, Courseulles sur Mer, an exhibition recreating the wartime experiences of children in Normandy and Canada in 1944
  • March to October - A travelling photographic exhibition in 14 towns and villages of Calvados to commemorate the sacrifice made by the civilian population during the Battle of Normandy.
  • May 10th - Ouistreham - The Ouistreham Jazz Big Band made of up 18 musicians in the tradition of American Big Bands, pays tribute to Glenn Miller.
  • June 14th to September 14th - "The Lights of Freedom", Bayeux Cathedral, a spectacular walk around the cathedral on the theme of Freedom. A dramatic account in light, colour, music, special effects and giant projected images....
  • Early June to late Aug take a guided themed walk about the occupation and liberation of Ouistreham
  • 2-4th June - Parade Tattoo de la Liberté in St -Lô town centre
  • 5-6th June - Film, "They were the First" (in French) at Pegasus Memorial
  • 6th June - 3D showings of D-Day Beach landings at Zénith in Caen
  • From June 7th to 9th - Caen - Liberation Tattoo at the Zenith.  A Military Music Festival bringing together about 650 French, Belgian, Canadian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, British, American and German musicians.
  • 7th June - Giant picnic on Omaha Beach
  • 12-13th July - Festival and fireworks celebrating liberty at Bolleville
  • 31th July - Liberation Parade, Julloville
  • 9-17th Aug - panther tanks and German period motorbikes at Montormel Museum

D-Day Landing Places of Interest close to Eco-Gites of Lenault

Omaha Beach

Photo from Brittany Ferries
This American beach saw the greatest loss of life where 2,400 men were killed on a 6km stretch of beach.  The American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach holds 9,387 American soldiers.

German Cemetery at la Cambe

Inland from Pointe du Hoc this cemetery is the final resting place of 21,000 German soldiers.


Famous for the Muberry floating docks, a Museum and the 360º cinema now make this is a very popular tourist location.

British Cemetery at Bayeux 

Here you will find the bodies of 4,648 soldiers. Every grave has a touching epitaph and no visit to Normandy should miss this cemetery.  Simon took Tom there a couple of years ago and even as a young lad he was very moved, helped no doubt by meeting and talking to a Welsh Gunner Veteran.

Pointe du Hoc

One of the largest German batteries whose guns had a range of 10 miles.

Pegasus Bridge and Museum at Bénouville

This was a vital bridge that had to be (and was) secured by dawn on June 6th 1944.

Village and Town Memorials

Almost every town and village will have a memorial to their dead and plaque celebrating their liberation.  At Ouistreham for example, an imposing memorial marks the liberation of the village.  Visitors can also visit the The Commando Memorial on the beach, dedicated to the 177 Green Berets from No 4 Commando Franco-British Unit who took the town and discover their story at the Atlantic Wall Museum.
In Lenault there is a plaque celebrating the liberation of the village in August and just up the road is a new memorial to a Polish soldier who lost his life whilst fighting to liberate France.  There are also numerous routes you can follow in your car guiding you around the most important sites.

70 years on, the horrors of the war in Normandy are restricted to it's museums and cemeteries.  You can walk freely through the towns and countryside and enjoy it's wonderful sandy beaches and for that we must lay our gratitude at the feet of the brave men (and the many women who followed the first troops) who took part in the D-Day Landings.  With each year that passes fewer veterans remain to salute their fallen comrades but to each and every one I say thank you.  You will not be forgotten.

Photo from Brittany Ferries



  1. What a truly lovely chain of events to commemorate such a difficult time. My StepDad works in Farnborough at an Air Museum and I know they have lots of celebrations to remember the First World War too as it is 100 years since that began. I wish I could get to some of these. Thank you for sharing with PoCoLo x

    1. You are right, 2014 is a busy war year - I think this year has so many D-Day events as they feel it will be last big anniversary that quite a few veterans will be able to visit.

  2. Thanks for sharing the celebration events.

  3. I live in Germany, and this place is in my bucket list to visit! So much history to learn from.


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