Normandy with Kids: War sites

As we travelled through Asia and studied the Vietnam War and the effects on many of the surrounding countries the kids developed a big interest in the history of War.  We were all excited to visit Normandy and visit the D-Day Beaches in the surrounding areas.

We spent 2 days in Normandy and planned to visit as many sites as we could.  Our plan was to visit the beach landing sites, museums and cemeteries in the area to give the kids a good picture of D-Day.

Day 1:

Omaha Beach:

On June the 6th 1944 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and changed the direction of World War 2.

Omaha beach was the bloodiest of all D-Day beaches.  This is the first beach we visited.  The beach is surrounded by steep cliffs and we immediately saw why so many troops died here.  The American troops lost around 2400 soldiers.

We inspected the several bunkers where tanks were hidden to fire at those troops coming ashore.  The American troops were finally able to come ashore and make progress with the help of American Warships who took out several bunkers and a group of Army rangers who found a stash of artillery between Omaha and Utah Beach.

Point Du Hoc:

After visiting Omaha Beach we drove to Point Du Hoc.  This area of cliffs was the highest point between Utah beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east.  Point Du Hoc is a beautiful place.  The cliffs are 100ft high and the view overlooking the English Channel breathtaking.

During the war the Germans fortified the area with different concrete casements and gun pits.  The kids had so much fun exploring the different fortifications.  The area also has a small museum but what we liked most was the information about different soldiers that died here.  

On the paths leading to the cliffs edge there are boards with stories of many soldiers.  We spent hours here exploring and reading about the soldiers and visiting the museum onsite.

Utah Beach:

To end our 1st day of exploring we headed to Utah Beach and to visit the American War Cemetery and Memorial that is located here.  The complex is huge covering 172 Acres and contains the graves of 9,387 American Soldiers and Military Personnel.

While we were visiting there was a memorial service as there were War veterans visiting and they were all dressed in their Army attire.

We walked the grounds and were surprised to find the remains of 3 American women also buried here.  These women were not killed in battle however and were sadly killed as a result of a jeep accident.

We were very impressed with the Museum located on the premises and spent a couple of hours watching footage and interviews from 1944.  The information was very well portrayed and the kids enjoyed learning more about D-Day and World War 2.

To finish our day of learning we watched Band of Brothers as a family and watched the attack on Utah and Omaha Beaches.

Day 2:

Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches:  

The coast is absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed visiting these beaches.  Along all of the beaches there are different monuments and information about each of the battles.  We learnt about the British forces at Golds and Swords Beach and were very intrigued but the group of Canadian Military that landed at Juno Beach.

While the Canadians were attempting to come ashore over 50% of the soldiers were killed.  Even though they lost over 50% of their men they advanced further inland than any other group. They consequently took back many small towns and linked up inland with the British troops on Gold beach.

After visiting the rest of the beaches we decided to visit the Canadian Cemetery and Memorial before finishing the day off in Bayeux Cemetery where I found my Great Grandfathers brother buried.

Once again we finished the day watching Band of Brothers.

If you are interested in World War 2 then you will throughly enjoy a visit to Normandy.  History came to life for the kids once again as we learnt about the brave soldiers that fought in World War 2, which also included an ancestor who died on the battle front.