My European Adventure: Part 2: Sacrifice and The Beaches of Normandy.

seangold
seangold @seangoldNovember 2018 ยท 5 min read

5am. Just landed in Paris the day before. Up, packed, out the door and on the road by 5:30 heading to The Normandy coast.

For the first hour or so, there wasn't another car in sight, it was kind of eerie. It wasn't long until we hit the first "Payage", which is the word for tolls in France. 9$ for the first one, and there's many more to come. Yikes. All in all it was about 70$ in tolls round trip. Yeah, 70$. Why so much you ask? Turns out most of France's highways are actually privately owned, so you're paying to use them. Kind of crazy, huh?

The drive continues. Payage after payage, and after about 3 hours of driving, we get off the autoroad and onto more country roads. It really felt like driving back in time, as we pass these medieval-esque buildings and houses, going down these small, winding roads cutting through countryside. We see the hedgerows that became a huge obstacle that the allies hadn't planned for.

Finally, we reached our first stop, Pointe du Hoc. Arguably the most important target of Operation OVERLORD and D-Day.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51349-WebExport.jpg

I will try to share the picture that I was painted of this battle to the best of my ability, but I'm obviously not a historian, nor do I feel that I fully understand all that happened here on this day. With that said, Pointe du Hoc was the location that housed many of the large guns the Germans had, and they were able to fire far into the sea, and also down the coasts to the invasion beaches.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51386-WebExport.jpg

If these guns were not disabled, the landing forces would have been pummeled by these weapons, as well as any approaching ships or aircraft were also at risk.

That is why 225 Rangers were tasked with scaling 100ft cliffs and capturing the point. A task which I can't even begin to fathom.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51353-WebExport.jpg

I found a great article which offers much more insight than I have into the events that unfolded, so if you wish to read more, rather than copying it here, check out this article: https://armyhistory.org/rudders-rangers-and-the-boys-of-pointe-du-hoc-the-u-s-army-rangers-mission-in-the-early-morning-hours-of-6-june-1944/

When you first arrive at the point, you are greeted with gently rolling hills that lead to the coast, but in actuality, they were anything but gentle. These were the marks of countless bombs and explosives that have scarred this landscape til this day.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51368-WebExport.jpg

The area is littered with craters all the way to the cliffs edge. You can also see the monument that was erected to honor the brave men that sacrificed on this day near the edge, built on top of the Nazi observation bunker.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51370-WebExport.jpg

Speaking of that observation bunker, let's go back to that day, early in the morning on June 6th. The Nazi's knew something was coming. They didn't know exactly where, or how many, but they knew that time was near. And then, as day breaks on that morning, they see something far in the distance, on the horizon but getting closer; and larger. The Allied fleet of 7,000 vessels making their way to the shores of Normandy.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51357-WebExport.jpg

The Nazi's built up heavy fortifications and bunkers all along the coast as part of their "Atlantic Wall".

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51377-WebExport.jpg

And here's a look at one room where the Nazis would spend their nights in these bunkers.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51359-WebExport.jpg

And these bunkers were heavily fortified, with 4 inch thick metal doors, gas seals and some with as many as 3 machine gun ports covering the entrances.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51382-WebExport.jpg

With all the preparation they did, they didn't figure the Americans would consider a cliff side amphibious invasion to take the point. The Rangers would fire ropes up the cliff, and begin their accent while under fire. Many were shot down from these ropes, but for every man that fell, another grabbed the rope and took their place. Imagine, having to scale a 100ft cliff in gear, then when you finally reach the top, if you did, you now had to find the strength to fight against soldiers entrenched in bunkers for your life. It was joked that 3 old women with brooms could keep the Rangers from climbing these cliffs and taking this point, but against all odds, they did just that.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51361-WebExport.jpg

Though, it came at great cost. Of the original 225 Rangers that came ashore, only 100 men were still capable of fighting by the next morning, while they endured Nazi counter attacks. And when reinforcements finally reached them, there would be only 75.
These are but a sliver of the acts of heroics, bravery, courage and sacrifice, which against all odds, captured Pointe du Hoc, and made the D-Day invasion more than possible, but inevitable.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51363-WebExport.jpg

Now, briefly over to Omaha Beach.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_56833-WebExport.jpg

It's just surreal how a place of such utter beauty, and current tranquility, could have been the site where 2,000 Americans would lose their lives in just one day.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51395-WebExport.jpg

And the last part of this tour was of course The American Cemetery in Normandy. What an incredible monument to incredible people that gave everything to end the spread of the Nazis, and liberate Europe.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51430-WebExport.jpg

And lest we ever forget, that the world we live in, in great part hinged on the outcome of the impossible tasks that were rested on the shoulders of these young men.

Sean_Gold_November 01, 2018_51403-WebExport.jpg

-Sean Gold

www.SeanGold.com
www.Instagram.com/SeanGoldPhotos



finally! ive been waiting for you to post this trip man! love it! that turret gun is a deadly force of weapon in the past or so i've heard


10
2
seangold
seangold @seangoldNovember 2018

@andywong31 thank you! And indeed, there were some seriously nasty weapons facing down the allies, and it was quite surreal to experience these places and understand the history that happened there. Glad you enjoyed it! The next installment will be about a couple coastal cities of the Normandy Region! Stay tuned!


0
1

Sweet! Looking forward to it buddy! ๐Ÿ˜€


10

I confess that when I saw your photos I felt very calm and eager to meditate. Each photo is great, it makes me travel to a state of calm, it's for the beauty of art.

The color of the sand and the sea are exact to mark the art of images at this time (only my perception).

Great work.


10
1
seangold
seangold @seangoldNovember 2018

@fernando.lubezki thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my post and photography! Stay tuned for the next installment!


0

Your photos are beautiful, there is so much beauty in that place. It is so sad to hear that such tragic event took place in that beautiful place with amazing views. I had no idea....

The people that lost their lives there sacrificed so much for humanity, i am so glad they were able to stop the spread of the Nazis, just so sad that they didn't leave to enjoy the peace and freedom.

The view of the beach is incredible, it is definitely calling out my name to go have some amazing time there.... Hopefully, someday!๐Ÿ˜Š


10
1
seangold
seangold @seangoldNovember 2018

@audreybits thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my post! And indeed, it was very emotional to experience these places and learn the history and sacrifice of brave people, from the soldiers that invaded, to the French Resistance that committed over 1000 acts of sabotage against the Nazis in the days leading up, at risk of them and their whole family being killed if caught. And yes, the beaches are truly beautiful, which makes it that much more surreal. I hope you get to visit some day! :)


0

Hi @seangold, thank you for sharing with us in your paris trip. In my country as well. Every where also need to pay toll. It a bit burden to citizens actually.
I love how you took the picture especially the sea side shooting. You have captured the right moment, angle and lighting. All the colors were perfectly match as if i personally there myself.

Thank you for the history as well. It very simple and easy to understand. You must took some time did the research and share with us.

Are you a professional photographer? Because I love how you took the photos, the color of the sky, sea, sands etc. I can only say wow..


10
2
seangold
seangold @seangoldNovember 2018

@oliviackl thank you! What country are you from? And you're welcome, I feel it's very important for us to know our history and to remember that the world we live in today was built on sacrifice, and we should never take our freedoms for granted. And I am indeed a professional photographer :) I'm glad you enjoyed my story! Stay tuned for the next one!


0
1

@seangold, i am from Malaysia. In Malaysia also have a lot of history and memorable place. But too bad, i am not remember all of the history behind it :(. Maybe I should start to do a research like you and documented it down. yay.. I was right, you are a professional photographer. I love how you captured all the scenery and the lighting. It very soothing and attractive.


0

You have great photos there that look vivid and crisp! Thanks for sharing them.

The rolling hills do not really look like hills. Without knowing that those were remains of bombings, they look like vandalized land that was quarried. The water is so green. It is my first time to see a body of vast body water as green and not blue. Very interesting!

The Omaha beach is... How can I describe it - stunning, amusing, amazing? It is very beautiful and indeed, very tranquil. Is that your truck in the middle of the phot? How did it get there?


10

Congratulations @seangold , your post is one of those treasures worth to see and read in steemit. Thanks for sharing your trip to such an important place for history. Spectacular.


0
stef1
stef1 @stef1November 2018

That is an interesting visit and was really enjoyable to sink into history, I appreciate you said you are not historian but even this information supported with such amazing pictures will give us an impression about the place, what happened, the massive construction remnants are still silent reminder of hard time and still there to tell us, that this is really happen and that should not let it happen again. Love that beach, very peaceful, it is hard to imagine that not so long ago it was a battle field and so many lost their lives. Great topic and wonderful pictures.


0

I love these pictures of the Normandy coast. I liked everything you captured in the photographs, you can notice that it is a cold climate at what temperature would the water be? That way of taking pictures with an unfocused background I loved it, your publication was also an adventure for me because I could know another part of the world through my computer


0

What an interesting place to see!


0

Congratulations! Your high-quality travel content was selected by @travelfeed curator @jpphotography and earned you a partial upvote. We love your hard work and hope to encourage you to continue to publish strong travel-related content.
Thank you for being part of the TravelFeed community!

TravelFeed
TravelFeed

Learn more about our travel project on Steemit by clicking on the banner above and join our community on Discord.


0