Omaha Beach

Looking down at Omaha BeachIt was my first time to Omaha beach and to say it was a very humbling experience is an understatement.

We had arrived towards the end of the years D-Day Remembrance ‘celebrations’ so there were quite a few visitors to the American D-Day Museum and Cemetery.

You’ve seen the films, read the book, watched the series on UK History, but nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the place.

Standing at the top of the hill where 1000’s if not more soldiers from both sides died leaves you with a rather dry lump in your throat.  Arriving at the top of the hill, you can only imagine the look of the awaiting German forces as they witnessed the mass of boats coming towards them.

P1010052When you are standing on the beach looking back up the hill, you can’t even appreciate the nerves it must have taken to even get off the landing craft and attempt to attack the hill.

I believe the beach is 6.9miles long. The day we were there, there must have been less than 20 people visible along the whole beach.  It was so quiet, peaceful and there is absolutely no evidence of the action that took place some 63 years previous.

P1010060 My two boys who are very interested in that era as most young boys are were visibly moved by what they saw.  It was no longer an Xbox game where they could hit ‘restart’ and the game would begin again when they “died”.  This was reality for them.
In the museum at the top of the hill, you could sit and watch footage taken at the time of the landings.  They sat for ages listening to the real soldiers tell their own stories.  There was no glorification, no Hollywood spin applied.  It wasn’t gory, nor horrific, but they left with tears forming in their eyes as did I.

P1010064I think every world leader, politician or in fact every man, woman and child should visit Omaha Beach, (or any of the Normandy Beaches or just any battlefield). 

They should be allowed to walk the cemeteries alone and consider what those who went before us gave up so that we may live in the name of peace. 
Yet when we look at events that are going on in the world today, do we really live in peace?
Is there any need for war and the death, destruction and misery it causes. 

I left Omaha Beach with more questions than answers. It taught me humility when I wasn’t really expecting it.  Those who control, start or fuel wars are never the ones at the front line. I think if they were to see what really goes on, you’d would at least hope they would think twice about starting something that causes so much death and destruction.

I’ve served in the Royal Navy and am very proud of doing so.  If you were to ask me to do so again now, I probably wouldn’t.  Yet, I would do anything to defend my family and my way of living, so I contradict myself.  It is those responsible for the wars and violence who need to see and understand the consequences and perhaps one day there would be no need for all the suffering that it causes.

  • I’ve been to Omaha Beach many times. I was there in June (07) for the anniversary and to put Maryland flags on some of the soldiers graves. My 3 uncles were there with the 29th Division (Blue & Gray). They were lucky. They returned home after going through every single day of combat. 29th Division: 20,111 total casualties. 3,729 killed in action. And just less then one year in combat.
    Tim
    http://www.ww2dday.com