Normandy Trip / D-DAY

090601 – Normandy Trip started

Gathered at Erik’s place and two other guys joined us shortly after 0800. It was Per and Johan. They were dressed up like Talibans and were newly home from Afghanistan after serving there for 6months.

We loaded up and left for Landskrona and Vallåkra some short stops gathering some more gear. We soon there after headed to Malmö to pick-up our final co-traveller (also called Johan) and then started to head south through Europe.

We stopped at a Camping spot just south of Nijmegen in Holland called Cuijk that was quite nice, it had two pools (which we unfortunately didn’t have time to use) and nice cabins.

090602 – Fort Eben Emael & Bray Dunes

[PICS – Fort Eben Emael] [PICS – Bray Dunes]

After the first night we went up at 0800 and pushed on to a huge bunker called Fort Eben Emael, this impressive structure was Belgium’s hope of defense against the Nazi Germany. It took the German 87 paratroopers less than a day to conquer the 1200 Belgian soldiers and put Belgium under the German and Adolf Hitler’s rule.

We found a nice camp spot on the beach, just on the other side of the Belgian boarder in France called Bray Dunes, just east of Dunkerque [Duun-kerk] and we went for a swim in the English channel (see pics).

After Erik cooking a nice dinner for me and him we had a pleasant evening with a picture show.

090603 – La Coupole in Saint-Omer

[PICS – La Coupole]

After heading up fairly early this morning as well we all broke camp and headed for La Coupole in Saint-Omer. This V1 and V2 rocket facility that was never completed by the Nazis could have changed the outcome of the war.

After spending an hour or so at La Coupole, we continued our drive to Normandy where we camped in Port-en-Bessin not far from Omaha Beach.

090604 – Omaha Beach, the American and German cemeteries.

[PICS – Choppers] [PICS – Omaha Beach]

We had planned to go west today and visit Omaha Beach, the American cemetery (housing 9.000 souls) and Point du Hoc. It was eye-opening experience to walk in these areas, I seen on films and read about in the history books! What a history filled place!

We also encountered some black-hawk helicopters and President Obama’s two presidential helicopters do a test landing on the cemetery since Obama was visiting a couple of days later.

Before coming back to our camp, we stopped at the German cemetery (housing 21.400 souls) who I must say was not close to as beautiful as the American which was really outstanding.

090605 – Bayeux, the British cemetery and fireworks.

[PICS – Pegasus Bridge] [PICS – British Cemetery] [PICS – Bayeux] [PICS – Fireworks]

Today we went east to visit Bayeux and the British cemetery (housing 4.648 souls) which also was quite nice. In the British cemetery we met a wonderful veteran who we spoke briefly to. On the question what he did that day, 65years ago, he answered “I got off the boat and ran like hell!” and the just laughed. Another two veterans I overheard talking to eachother were also quite funny. Their conversation went like this:

– You seem a little bit older than me!? do you mind me asking how old you are?

– Quite possible, said the other gentleman, I’m 92. You?

– I’m 90.

– Lad, you’ll catch up one day, you’ll catch up!

The town of Bayeux was quite nice and we walked around and had a beer to relax. In the evening I went out with the boys to have dinner in Port du Bessin and later that evening enjoy the fireworks that lit up 80km of coastline in Normandy.

090606 – D-Day + 65years

We were woken up by the church bells in the whole area where going off remembering that day 65years ago. We had already decided to head to Nijmegen and tomorrow home due to the Presidents of France and USA plus Prince William of Britain was coming to Normandy and this causing many roads to be blocked off and areas access limited.

When we reached Nijmegen we found poor weather so we decided to head on home after eating something nice. We pushed on all night and after starting our trip from Normandy, France at 0900, we reached Swedish soil just before 0700 the day after and I was at home again around 0800.

What happened that day 65 years ago??

How many participated that day?

Info gathered on: http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/faq.htm – Thanks.

On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000:

23,250 on Utah Beach,

34,250 on Omaha Beach, and

15,500 airborne troops.

In the British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops were landed (61,715 of them British):

24,970 on Gold Beach,

21,400 on Juno Beach (Canadians),

28,845 on Sword Beach, and

7900 airborne troops.

11,590 aircraft were available to support the landings. On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties, and 127 were lost. In the airborne landings on both flanks of the beaches, 2395 aircraft and 867 gliders of the RAF and USAAF were used on D-Day.

Operation Neptune involved huge naval forces, including 6939 vessels: 1213 naval combat ships, 4126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. Some 195,700 personnel were assigned to Operation Neptune:

52,889 US,

112,824 British, and

4988 from other Allied countries.

By the end of 11 June (D + 5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches.

As well as the troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day, and those in supporting roles at sea and in the air, millions more men and women in the Allied countries were involved in the preparations for D-Day. They played thousands of different roles, both in the armed forces and as civilians.

How many casualties did this battle suffer?

“Casualties” refers to all losses suffered by the armed forces: killed, wounded, missing in action (meaning that their bodies were not found) and prisoners of war. There is no “official” casualty figure for D-Day. Under the circumstances, accurate record keeping was very difficult. For example, some troops who were listed as missing may actually have landed in the wrong place, and have rejoined their parent unit only later.

In April and May 1944, the Allied air forces lost nearly 12,000 men and over 2,000 aircraft in operations which paved the way for D-Day.

The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans. However recent painstaking research by the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation has achieved a more accurate – and much higher – figure for the Allied personnel who were killed on D-Day. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2499 American D-Day fatalities and 1915 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4414 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2500 dead). Further research may mean that these numbers will increase slightly in future. The details of this research will in due course be available on the Foundation’s website at www.dday.org. This new research means that the casualty figures given for individual units in the next few paragraphs are no doubt inaccurate, and hopefully more accurate figures will one day be calculated.

Casualties on the British beaches were roughly 1000 on Gold Beach and the same number on Sword Beach. The remainder of the British losses were amongst the airborne troops: some 600 were killed or wounded, and 600 more were missing; 100 glider pilots also became casualties. The losses of 3rd Canadian Division at Juno Beach have been given as 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner.

The breakdown of US casualties was 1465 dead, 3184 wounded, 1928 missing and 26 captured. Of the total US figure, 2499 casualties were from the US airborne troops (238 of them being deaths). The casualties at Utah Beach were relatively light: 197, including 60 missing. However, the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2000 casualties at Omaha Beach.

The total German casualties on D-Day are not known, but are estimated as being between 4000 and 9000 men.

Naval losses for June 1944 included 24 warships and 35 merchantmen or auxiliaries sunk, and a further 120 vessels damaged.

Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces. Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from 21st Army Group (British, Canadian and Polish ground forces), 125,847 from the US ground forces. The losses of the German forces during the Battle of Normandy can only be estimated. Roughly 200,000 German troops were killed or wounded. The Allies also captured 200,000 prisoners of war (not included in the 425,000 total, above). During the fighting around the Falaise Pocket (August 1944) alone, the Germans suffered losses of around 90,000, including prisoners.

Today, twenty-seven war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing. Thousands more fled their homes to escape the fighting.

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