Written by Wesley Klehm
Our almost final day was our full day Overlord tour. Our guide used to live in Winter Park. We started off stopping at a gun battery near Omaha beach. There were some original 105mm guns still in place. It was foggy and visibility was low, as it was on D-Day
I grabbed some sand and some rocks before we headed up to the cemetery. It was unfortunately large and seemed like it went on forever. The French gifted the land overlooking Omaha beach to the USA ‘forever’ as a graveyard for our lost soldiers.
There were approximately 10,000 buried there, and that was only 1/3 of the soldiers lost in Normandy. The rest of the soldiers were sent home. It was quite emotional.
Next we headed to Pointe du Hoc. This area is still scarred by all the bombing, with huge craters in the landscape. There were some german structures here originally, but no weapons. Instead telephone poles were put because they looked like gun barrels.
Our next destination was St Mere Eglise. We had lunch and visited the paratrooper museum there. They had a few tanks and trucks, but they also had a Waco Glider and a C-47. It was interesting but not as good as some of the others. On the church there they placed a paratrooper mannequin hanging by his parachute from the steeple.
For the second half of the day we drove around seeing sites from the airborne part of the invasion. We went to the spot where Easy company’s original commander’s plane went down and the spot where the first general was killed when his glider crashed due to being overweight. We also stopped at the farmstead which was used as a rallying point for the soldiers.
The guide periodically quizzed us on Band of Brothers stuff and I knew most of the answers, so that was satisfying. We also stopped at a church, where two medics set up a field hospital. The story was that the church was dedicated to two saints that were doctors, so the story of these two medics that set up the hospital there made for a great story.
The pews in the church still had blood on them and there was a broken stone on the floor where a dud mortar shell crashed through the roof.
Next we went to Brecourt Manor. It was here where there were several 105mm guns shooting at Utah beach. Easy company was tasked with neutralizing the battery. Again, seeing something in person which I’d watched so many times in band of Brothers was surreal. It was inspring just standing in that field, taking in what it would have been like. We moved on from there to Carentan where our guide showed us some pictures of it’s liberation. Thus ended the tour and we returned to Bayeux. We said goodbye to our guide and the two other people on the tour with us. We had a long tiring drive back as far as we wanted to go. We stopped just outside of Lisle and spent the night.