If your planning a trip to France I highly recommend you spend a day or two in beautiful seaside Normandy and join OverlordTour for a guided tour of the World War 2 D-day landing sites. I have always been fascinated with massive D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, where 135,000 men hit the beaches, over 5,000 ships as far as the eye could see were on the morning horizon. Overlord was the code word used by the allies for the D-Day mission. I booked the half day tour with OverlordTour well in advance and you should as well. These are small intimate tours and they book up fast. So after a few wonderful days in Paris I boarded the morning train for Bayeux. The two and a half hour ride was very comfortable and scenic. I met up with our guide and the other guests at our luxury air conditioned minivan in the Bayeux town center at 145 PM for our 4 hour guided tour. There were seven of us in total as we departed to step back in history. Bayeux has a stunning cathedral church that is 30 years shy of its 1000 year old birthday. We learned from our guide that the German soldiers retreated in the evening of June 6th after the landing and the Mayor of Bayeux raced by bicycle at dawn to reach the allied troops to let them know the town was clear so they wouldn’t bomb Bayeux, Thus saving this ancient church. Our guide pointed out all the church towers in the area were destroyed because it was a favorite hiding spot for German snipers.
The last stop on the tour was Pointe Du Hoc, a hundred foot cliff separating Omaha Beach from Utah Beach. Allied recon photos showed huge guns up on the cliff and it was the job of the 2nd Rangers Battalion to scale these cliffs and destroy these guns. This mission seemed like pure suicide since the German soldiers would fire down and pick the men off easily. Yet under LTC James E Rudder the Rangers won the day and scaled the cliffs in a matter of minutes. They had trained and practiced for months in England and the men were trained to exhaustion by their commander. But they were now as fit as the best pro athletes of today and their mental and physical extreme training let them to this great accomplishment. But when they took the point they found that the guns weren’t there, only wood telephone lines painted to look like the huge guns. commander Rudder was convinced the guns were hidden nearby and would still be used to fire down on the soldiers on the beaches, so he sent his men out in small groups looking for the guns. Three of his men found the guns hidden and ready to fire on the men landing on Utah Beach, the Germans guarding the guns were waiting for the signal to fire them and were caught unaware as the Rangers slipped phosphorus grenades into the guns damaging them badly and rendering them unable to fire. Thus saving many lives of American soldiers coming ashore on Utah Beach that bloody morning. All around Point Du Hoc are huge craters sloping 20 feet deep in the grass from the airplane bombs in the weeks before the attack. The Germans moved the huge guns because of these air bombings which clearly didn’t hit the guns but came very close. You can walk down into these grassy steep craters and several from our group did. There is also a fortified lookout cement bunker, It was from here that June 6th dawn that the first German soldier on lookout was horrified to see thousands of Allied ships on the horizon heading his way. Our guide reminded us that the famous 1962 epic star studded Hollywood movie The Longest Day actually used this lookout bunker to recreate the moment the soldier saw the armada of approaching ships.