France: Normandy D-Day Sites

normandy d-days invasion artifacts: sand, razor, bullet, dog tag, bandage

In October 2013, I had the privilege of paying my respects at many of the D-day sites and memorials in Normandy, France…

Only by being there did I begin to appreciate the scale, audacity, and horror of that fateful enterprise launched on the morning of June 6, 1944. Standing on such hallowed ground where so many gave so much moved me to tears of grief, gratitude, anger, humility, and emotions I am unable to put into words. I hope that this photo essay does justice to these sentiments as it recognizes and remembers the uncommon courage and ultimate sacrifice of those who fought there.

Before viewing the photographs below, please take a few minutes to read three of Ernie Pyle’s gut-wrenching and heartbreaking observations after he landed in Normandy a few days after the invasion:

  1. A Pure Miracle (June 12, 1944)
  2. The Horrible Waste (June 16, 1944)
  3. A Long Thin Line (June 17 ,1944)

The German Gun Batteries at Longues Sur Mer are battle-scared, but remain largely intact.
Enter a bunker and try to imagine the shock, disbelief, and terror of the German soldiers seeing the approaching Armada.

Point du Hoc. Where American Army Rangers scaled the treacherous cliffs under fire….
… in order to overtake the heavily fortified gun emplacements.
Arromanches. Code named Gold Beach, and home to the artificial harbor christened Port Winston, remnants of which remain to this day.
The Arromanche360 museum immerses you in the chaos and terror of the invasion in sound and image.
The church steeple and memorial to paratrooper John Steele in Saint Mere Eglise
American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer. Countless crosses (and a few stars of David)
Many nameless
British Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux
Make sure to read the inscriptions.
but be prepared to “lose it”
German Cemetery at La Cambe.
A reminder that there were victims on both sides of the war
The Omaha Beach memorial museum preserves the history of and houses important artifacts from the invasion.
The gut-wrenching, first-hand accounts of the veterans are particularly worth your time and attention.
Paying my respects as I wept on Omaha Beach
Some precious artifacts: Sand from Omaha Beach, British Razor, German land mine flag, Canadian machine gun shell, American Bandage, German Dog Tag from a fallen soldier.


  1. We recently came back from a trip to France and Italy that included three days in Normandy. Like you, my intention was to do something I had thought about since I was a kid some 50 years ago. That was to pay my respect to the incredibly brave men who fought and died during the D-Day invasion. It was a moving experience for me. We visited the invasion beaches, Pointe du hoc St. Mere Eglise and the American Cemetery. Driving along the coast road were numerous reminders and memorials to the soldiers and paratroopers who took part in the invasion fighting. I brought back a handful of sand from Dog Green sector of Omaha Beach. It was so peaceful and beautiful I could only strain to imagine what the landing must have been like.

    1. Thanks so much for checking in, Frank, and for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It’s good to know that there are people like you who value and are moved by such experiences, as painful as they might be. All the best to you in travels and life. Peace.

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