The Longues-Sur-Mer Battery

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It is not far from Arromanches to the German battery near the coastal village of Longues-sur-Mer. Located between Gold and Omaha beaches, the long-range battery was completed in April 1944 as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and it consists of four 150mm naval guns, a forward command post and several defensive bunkers. Classified today as an historic monument, the battery was designed to defend against Allied incursions in this part of Normandy, and it fired a total of 170 rounds at Allied ships on June 6, 1944 before it was captured by British troops the next day.

Part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall, the Longues-sur-Mer battery consisted of four 150mm navy guns like this one, posing a real threat to the ships taking part in the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944

Part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, the Longues-sur-Mer battery consisted of four 150mm navy guns like this one, posing a real threat to the ships taking part in the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944.

All these years later, the battery is still an impressive sight. Several of the guns used on D-Day are still in place within the huge concrete casemates used to protect them. There is evidence on the site of the heavy Allied bombardment sustained prior to the landings. Several of the casements show damage from the air and naval barrage, and the fields surrounding the battery still have numerous shell craters. Along the cliff edge there are several intact machine gun emplacements and ammunition stores, and it was fun for Sonya and I to climb into the bunker and imagine what it must have been like here on that morning not so long ago.

The pictures which follow are from our Normandy Beaches Gallery. Click on any thumbnail below to see the caption and then view the gallery. The entire Normandy Beaches Gallery is available on the Photo Gallery menu.

Arromanches

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Having spent our morning on Juno Beach and at the Juno Beach Centre, the afternoon found us on Gold Beach at Arromanches. It was here that British troops landed during D-Day, and it was here that the Allies constructed a makeshift Mulberry harbour, nicknamed Port Winston, that for six months after D-Day became the busiest port in the world. The artificial port was used to offload the troops, supplies, vehicles and equipment that sustained the Allied push into Europe during the summer of 1944, and it is still considered to be one of the greatest military achievements of all time.

Of course, little of the Mulberry harbour remains visible today. While recent explorations have revealed that much of the original construction remains more or less intact just 5 metres below the surface, (see more HERE), at high tide Sonya and I saw only a few of the remaining breakwaters off the beach at Arromanches.

Overlooking the Normandy coast at Arromanches. Notice the Mulberry breakwaters in the water to the right.

Overlooking the Normandy coast at Arromanches. Notice the Mulberry breakwaters in the water to the right.

The town of Arromanches itself was well prepared for our visit with several on-street displays of military equipment, lots of 70th anniversary D-Day memorabilia, plenty of restaurants and a 360° theatre featuring historical footage shot during the summer of 1944. The film “The Price Of Freedom” impressively mixes archived film from June 1944 with present day pictures and is presented on 9 screens in a circular theater. Of course, for me the audio/visual presentation was the highlight of the afternoon, but it was also lots of fun to see all the military equipment and to browse the shops.

The pictures which follow are from our Normandy Beaches Gallery. Click on any thumbnail below to see the caption and then view the gallery. The entire Normandy Beaches Gallery is available on the Photo Gallery menu.

 

Meanwhile, on Juno Beach

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The iconic footage below is from the grainy black and white film shot in the early morning of June 6, 1944 by Sergeant Bill Grant of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit. It is one of the few surviving clips showing the landing of Canadian troops from the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment on Nan Red Beach, the codename for their section of Juno Beach at Bernières-sur-Mer, France.

More than 600 Canadians were cut down in the first minutes of the landing, the second worst casualties of D-Day after the Americans on Omaha Beach.

More than 600 Canadians were cut down in the first minutes of the landing, the second worst casualties of D-Day after the Americans on Omaha Beach.

In all 15,000 Canadians in the 3rd Canadian Division landed in France on D-Day. This number includes over 450 who landed by parachute or by glider as part of the assault by the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion on the bridges on the Dives and Divette in Varaville. Ten thousand sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 109 vessels were also involved in the assault.

The Canadian objectives were to:

  • establish a beachhead,
  • capture the three small seaside towns of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières and St. Aubin,
  • advance ten miles inland,
  • cut the Caen-Bayeux highway,
  • seize the Carpiquet airport west of Caen,
  • and form a link between the British beachheads codenamed Sword and Gold.

Canadian troops endured some of the heaviest fighting on D-Day, second only to the American assault on Omaha Beach. Despite this the 3rd Canadian Division progressed further inland than any other of the Allies on D-Day. Casualties on D-Day included 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner. During the first six days of the campaign, 1,017 Canadians died, and by the end of the two and a half month Normandy campaign, Canadian casualties totalled more than 18,000, including more than 5,000 dead. Lest We Forget.

The Day The War Was Won

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“The Day The War Was Won” is a Channel 4 documentary about the Battle of Britain broadcast to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the battle. It is well worth watching.

No matter how many programmes I’ve see featuring the last of “The Few”, I always find them extraordinary and moving. If you feel the same way, then you are sure to enjoy this presentation. Seventy-five years on, only a handful of the Battle of Britain’s heroes are still with us. In this video Dermot O’Leary meets veterans of the Battle of Britain – pilots and ground crew as well as the women pilots who ferried aircraft around the country. The documentary explores the extraordinary human stories of those who changed the course of the Second World War.

Enjoy!

D-Day Plus 70 Years

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July 14, 2014. D-Day plus 70 years, 1 month and 8 days.

Beginning with an early morning trip to the Canadian War Cemetery at Beny-Sur-Mer, our day in the Normandy landing zones included visits to:

  • Juno Beach at Beny-Sur-Mer, and Courseulles Sur-Mer,
  • Gold Beach, a British landing zone, at Arromanches,
  • the German coastal defence batteries at Longues-sur-Mer,
  • Ardenne Abbey, the scene of the cold-blooded murder of 20 Canadian soldiers by Nazi SS Panzer Division troops on June 7-8, 1944.

I will deal with each of these in separate posts

It was also just over a month after the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. The anniversary itself had been marked by commemorations and special events all along the Normandy coastline. World leaders had attended an international ceremony on Sword Beach on June 6. There hundreds of gathered veterans heard French president Francois Hollande remind the world that:

“The 6th June is not a day like others: it is not just the longest day or a day to remember the dead, but a day for the living to keep the promise written with the blood of the fighters, to be loyal to their sacrifice by building a world that is fairer and more human.”

CBC TV’s broadcast of the anniversary ceremonies are featured HERE. The video below is from Panzer Pictures and chronicles some of the events and celebrations held in Normandy in June 2014 from a tourist’s prospective. Much of it is raw and unedited. Enjoy!

Hosted by YouTube, there are three parts to this feature. Follow the prompts when the video concludes to see parts 2 and 3.

Operation Overlord Overview

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Want to know more about D-Day, aka Operation Overlord? Then checkout this Operation Overlord overview.

Taken from CBC Digital Archives, this broadcast aired on The National on June 1, 1984 as part of the lead-up to the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings. It explains the purpose and importance of Operation Overlord, and the role Canadians played in it. The National was hosted by Knowlton Nash and this segment is reported by CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason.