O – Omaha

Map of Normandy

Omaha Beach was the code name given to one of initial Allied landing sites for the invasion to save France.  Omaha was selected for its terrain.  The land abutting the English Channel is known for its steep and rocky cliffs.  Omaha was an exception, offering a sandy beach and more suitable terrain for bringing boats, as well as troops, ashore.  Omaha’s terrain still presented difficulties nonetheless.

6 June 1944

6 June 1944, better remembered as D-Day marked the beginning of the US and British invasion of France.  Similar to the German Military, the US Military considered every little logistical detail.  A large problem that the US looked at was dealing with oceanic tides.  A large drawback of a gental sloped beach is having very large tides.  The projected tidal range during the attack was calculated to be 18 vertical-feet high, which represented 900 linear-feet, between the low and high water marks in the sand.

The Germans used Omaha’s geography to their advantage.  In the tidal flats, they planted a series of waterproofed mines and iron gate-like structures, to act like snares.  This made it difficult for the shore-bound Allied troops.  The Germans wanted a home field advantage.

Paratroopers famously carried clickers, which allowed them to communicate and identify themselves with a rudimentary code, similar to Morse-code. Today, these are a popular tourist item in Northern France.

At 6:30 in the morning local time,  the Allied infantry forces began approaching the shore.  By mid-day, the Allied troops were advancing up the beach, albeit slowly, and with many casualties.  In the afternoon, another large wave of troops were sent in.  By evening it was clear that the Allies had control of the beaches.

Over 209,000 Allied troops died during the D-Day battles.  The mass cemetery at Omaha Beach is open to the Public, and remains one of the most famous World War II memorials.

Song: Click to listen to Omaha by Dave D. (Drew’s neighbor)

Normandy 2010

Below are photos Drew took during his trip to France during April 2010.

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