Omaha Beach : Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-mer

From Omaha Beach (D-Day landings, June 6, 1944)  we made our way, by bus, to the Normandy American Cemetery.   On the side of the road were segments of floating bridges used to carry vehicles across water …

The Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer is the largest American Cemetery from WW II covering 172.5 acres ..

9 387 service men and women are buried here marked by hundreds of simple rows of white crosses   :    307 unknown   :    3 Medal of Honour recipients   :    38 pairs of brothers buried side by side

The ‘Garden of the Missing’  commemorates a further 1 557 soldiers, sailors and airmen who fell in Normandy and have no known graves

Visitors Centre – very interesting with memorabilia, personal recollections, etc.  There is also a data base where one can find the grave numbers of next-of-kin

Resistance Forces cap and weapon ..

Memorial …  ‘The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves’ – on either side of this huge wall maps show the campaign in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO)

Couldn’t get decent photos from here on as light rain was falling.  A stirring experience to watch the Last Post ..

.. the flag was then folded by a couple.   The gentleman was blind.  They were given the perfectly folded-into-a-triangle flag.  We wondered what the story was behind this ..

The Memorial  ..

In the centre of the Cemetery is a small chapel ..

Garden of the Missing ..

The names of the 1557 missing in action are carved on the wall surrounding the garden ..

The rose beds have only one variety of rose .. would love to know what it’s called ..

Interesting facts :
*Mark, our Tour Director, told us, which I had forgotten, remembering it only now while researching the Cemetery’s info … is that there is a sealed time capsule under a pink granite slab in the lawn opposite the old Visitors’ building.   It contains news reports of the June 6, 1944 landings in Normandy.  The inscription on the slab reads ‘ To be opened June 6, 2044’    Umm I’ll be 91!!  .. if I’m still around 🙂

*Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jnr, killed 12 July, 1944, nephew of the President is buried next to his brother Quentin, a pilot
*2 brothers whose story inspired ‘Saving Private Ryan’  are buried here.   2/Lt Preston Niland (killed 7th June, 1944)  and Sgt Robert Niland (killed on D-Day)

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7 Responses to Omaha Beach : Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-mer

  1. A really stirring place to visit

  2. brian Davey says:

    I visited the cemetery some five years ago and was stunned by the moving tribute of sounding the last post. I now have terminal cancer and am visiting the cemetery again in mid May to show my wife around the Normandy beaches. I believe the Last Post is sounded every day – is it always at the same time (4.30/5pm, local time )? If so what is that time please it is very important to see this again in the company of my wife. Thanks so much for any help you can give.

    • Hi Brian. I am so very sorry to hear of your illness. I don’t know when the last post is sounded. I would think around 4.30 pm as the cemetery is open from 9 – 5 daily. (It was now two years ago we were there and we left soon after that) So I am sure if you are there in the late afternoon you will witness this very moving experience. I wish you and your wife a wonderful vacation and also wish you well.

      • brian Davey says:

        Very many thanks for your kind wishes. I’m a very positive person 99.9% of the time and there is no way I’m giving in to this intrusion in my life. I’m fast approaching 77yrs in a few months time and as a child lived on the outskirts of London, I remember the overhead ‘dog-fights’ and the ‘Doodlebugs’ (hopefully passing over). My wife is steeped in WW1 as she lost three uncles on the Somme in a matter of 4months – unbelievable. We still have their military medals in one of the bedrooms together with sadly only one photo of one of them. Personally my father fought also in the first WW having enlisted at 16yrs for minesweeper duties as a semaphore officer trawling in the N. Sea but he managed to survive, obviously !!

        Our objectives now are to cover as many of the things that I/we consider are most important on our joint shopping list before the inevitable and this trip is of high priority of a memory we have both endured on the last century, as you can imagine. From Omaha beach we then intend to view other nearby cemeteries whilst experiencing the fantastic local oysters along the Normandy coast – a slightly different experience !

        Apologises for the summary but we are getting quite excited by the prospect of the trip and will be travelling in our own car and centering our trip on the nearby beautiful town of Bayeux. Another dream being fulfilled.

        Very best wishes, Brian

  3. Hi Brian … very interesting indeed. It means so much more when it’s personal. We made friends with an Australian couple on our Italian tour last year who went on to a Leger Tour – ‘Walking the Beaches of Normandy” They found it terribly interesting and moving, and have booked for one or two more tours this year. ‘All quiet on the Western Front’ is one of them .. cannot recall the other/s. Bob’s father and grandfather were also involved in both wars.
    If you have read other blog posts on our France tour, you will have gathered it was our first time in that beautiful country. My husband and I would definitely return as there is so much more to see. Our South African Rand/Euro is not favourable at all .. so no overseas holiday for us this year sadly.

    I wish you and your wife a truly wonderful trip. Travelling by car is definitely the answer compared to tour groups – time is not limited in places of interest. Enjoy the oysters!!! Enjoy France!!! Drive safely
    Kind regards Avril

    • brian Davey says:

      Brilliant set of reminiscences for you to gather together.

      Didn’t realize you were from SA but do understand the rand situation. What’s bad for some is good for others. No more than half dozen doors away from us is a couple of very good friends of ours who are fast rushing up to their 60’s and who at the end of May will be travelling out to Cape Town to complete their purchase on a property in a village called Robertsonville (?) close to the wine area and probably hour/hour and a half’s drive up from CTown. The reason they want to buy now as a semi retirement house is that they believe the rand can’t get worse.

      I have to say that when I was working as a design chemical engineer for an international chem. plant consultancy I never made it to CT, I only ever got as far as J’burg, Newcastle and Pretoria before moving on to Zambia(under Kaunda – an experience !), Zaire (never ever again !), Botswana and Kenya. Then emphasis shifted to Latin America, India and S E Asia, all very different but really enjoyable experiences spread over some 25 years.

      Very best wishes to you and family. Brian

  4. Brian .. what a pity you didn’t make it to Cape Town. A beautiful city with it’s famous mountain!! I travel down (we are in Johannesburg) quite frequently to see my ageing Mum who is in Frail Care in an Old Aged Home in Somerset West close to Stellenbosch. I will be flying down for a few days in early May again. While there I/we always visit wine estates etc – click onto my ‘Cape’ , ‘wine estates’ links and you’ll see what you’ve missed! Hope your friends are right .. that the rand can’t get any worse! We haven’t been to Robertson – there are just so many places to see – we always drive through Worcester on the main highway, and alternatively we travel to Hermanus where my husband sister lives. Robertson area is in between. All magnificent scenery wherever you go.
    KInd regards Avril

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