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Normandy commemorates the 80th Anniversary of D-Day & Battle of Normandy


June 6, 2024, is the 80th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy – an event that led to the liberation of France and Europe. The anniversary is a momentous occasion to celebrate peace and liberty as Normandy, France presents an unprecedented program of events to mark the importance of this occasion. Many museums, cemeteries and memorial sites offer space for personal reflection in addition to presenting intriguing programming and displays to preserve and remember the events that changed the world.

Each year Normandy holds D-Day and the Battle of Normandy events to pay tribute to the veterans from America, Canada, Britain, Belgian, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Poland and Australia and to their brothers in arms and the many heroes who lost their lives during the summer of 1944. Called the “Land of Liberty”, Normandy is expecting record crowds this year to attend the 80th anniversary.

80th anniversary of the D-Day Landing and the Battle of Normandy

This year’s ceremony indeed be special since it’s the 80th anniversary and will likely be the last D-Day anniversary in the presence of veterans who witnessed the events firsthand. An exclusive, by-invitation-only ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landing and the Battle of Normandy will take place on June 6th in Saint Laurent sur Mer on the Omaha Beach. During major anniversary years, Veterans Affairs Canada organizes the Canadian D-Day ceremony at the Juno Beach Centre (veterans.gc.ca).

Nearly 100 more commemorative ceremonies will take place throughout the Normandy Region at the sites where the battles occurred. Several hundred more events are happening from March to mid October including a breathtaking coastline illumination with synchronized fireworks at D-Day sites, a massive picnic on Omaha Beach, Liberation-themed dances, an international parachute drop involving hundreds of military personnel and more.

Arromanches beach, Mulberry Harbour © Marie-Anaïs Thierry

D-Day Festival Normandy

The D-Day Festival Normandy is happening from June 1-16 as a Celebration of Freedom. Taking place on the beaches of the Normandy Landings and coastline, a range of events includes concerts, parades, exhibitions, parachute displays, fireworks and a historical re-enactment.

D-Day History

There were three definable phases of the D-Day operations: the air landings which were centred on Utah Beach in the west and Sword Beach in the east; the air and naval bombardments of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall”, and the seaborne landings on the five beaches which included Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword at Pointe du Hoc.

The Normandy landings represented the largest seaborn invasion in history. More than 5,000 ships and landing craft carrying troops and supplies left England and set sail for France, while more than 11,000 aircraft were positioned to provide air support for the invasion. Approximately 156,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy on that day. It is estimated that more than 4,000 lost their lives, with 5,000 wounded. During the ensuing Battle of Normandy, some 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wounded out of a deployment of 875,000. The battle killed about 20,000 French civilians. Less than a year later, Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. (Source: www.history.com)

Here are just a few of the dozens of D-Day museums and historical sites to visit in Normandy and area:

Juno Beach Centre

Memorial at the Juno Beach Centre, photo by Thomas le Floch’H

Located on the beach where Canadians and allied forces landed, the Juno Beach Centre tells the story of the role Canada played during World War II and on D-Day.The exhibit features archival documents, photos, audio-visual and sound recordings, an interactive map and more.

Vers la plage de Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer © Thomas Le Floc’H

A new Faces of Canada Today room will be inaugurated in June in honour of the modern veterans who continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces all over the world. In honour of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Juno Beach Centre recently unveiled a new commemorative exhibition titled “Rising to the Challenge: RCAF During World War II.” Junobeach.org. For information on Juno Beach Centre ceremonies visit veterans.gc.ca.

Canadian War Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery

Dieppe 19 August 1942 Memorial © Danielle Dumas

The BénysurMer Canadian War Cemetery is the final resting place for 335 soldiers from the 3rd Canadian Division who landed on D-Day on Juno Beach. Additionally, prisoners of war were also buried here . There are over 2,000 graves including 1,694 Canadian soldiers. cwgc.org

Airborne Museum Sainte-Mère-Église

Expérience Normande : visite insolite des réserves de l’Airborne Museum © Thomas Le Floc’H

With four massive buildings, the interactive presentation lets visitors trace the footsteps of an American paratrooper on D-Day. Guests can climb aboard a real Waco glider or into a C-47 aircraft just as the paratroopers did for the Battle of Normandy. Objects in the museum come to life thanks to realistic reconstructions (including a hologram of an American officer) which lets visitors feel the sensation of what it’s like to jump from a C-47 in flight. The film The Way Back describes the key dates and events that led to D-Day. Airborne Museum’s Camp Geronomo, the military reenactment camp, which will welcome visitors from June 1 to 9, 2024. Airborne-museum.org

Airborne Museum, C-47 aircraft © Marie-Anaïs Thierry

The D-Day Experience; a 3D and 4D Journey Into History SaintCômeduMont 

The 3-D film D-Day Normandy 1944 gives visitors a realistic visual and audio experience which facilitates participation in the events of D-Day. As guests learn about the preparations for the parachute jump over Normandy, they can ralize the experience aboard an authentic 1943 C-47 airplane which has been converted into a flight simulator. The museum offers immersive museography and over 5,300 square feet of exhibits. Dday-experience.com

Normandy Victory Museum

A unique museum where you can touch objects and walk through realistic scenes of the era. Relive history as you climb into an armoured vehicle or sample a simulated experience. Normandy-victory-museum.com

D-Day Museum Arromanches-les-Bains

Arromanches beach, Mulberry Harbour © Marie-Anaïs Thierry

The first museum built on the site of the British artificial port to commemorate the D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, and the Battle of Normandy. The site has been totally renovated to mark the beginning of a new chapter in history. Thanks to subtle animations, the museum cleverly brings history to life as visitors experience the atmosphere of the time. Musee-arromanches.fr

Utah Beach D-Day Landing Museum

Built on the very spot where the American troops landed on June 6th, 1944, the D-Day Landing Museum recounts the events of D-Day from its planning to its success. Visitors can discover an extensive collection of objects, vehicles and equipment including an authentic American Marauder B26 bomber. The film Victory Beach tells the epic story of the biggest amphibious operation in military history. You will also hear moving accounts from war veterans that paint a picture of the sacrifices made to help free Europe. Utah-beach.com

Overlord Museum Omaha Beach

Located in the heart of Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches and just 500 metres from Omaha’s American Military Cemetery. The museum’s notable collection includes over 10,000 artifacts including 40 vehicles, tanks, canons and more. The immersive presentations offer visitors an understanding of the preparations of D-Day through to the liberation of Paris. overlordmuseum.com

World War II Museum

Boasting over 10,000 square feet of exhibition space, visitors are transported back in time with realistic scenes showcasing the atmosphere of the period. Visitors can wander down a typical street from the 1940’s which has been reconstructed, compete with shops, houses, vehicles and more. wwii-museum.com

La Mora-Honfleur

La Mora was William the Conqueror’s flagship which he used during his conquest of England. The ship has been reborn in Honfleur to showcase Normandy’s maritime history. The east pier has undergone a rehabilitation to welcome guests onboard the warship. La-mora.org

Unique Normandy Experiences

You can also experience unforgettable Normandy moments through unique tours such as a Jeep Ride in the Footsteps of the 101st Division; Sea-kayaking amid iconic D-Day landmarks, Fat-biking on Omaha Beach and for kids, an immersive and educational D-Day experience at Juno Beach.

Dieppe Memorial of the August 19th, 1942, Armada

At dawn on August 19th, 1942, an Allied armada headed towards Dieppe as part of Operation Jubilee, which involved 6,000 men, mainly Canadian. Over a quarter of them lost their lives. Visitors can see archives, photos and see a 40-minute film.

Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery

Allied fighters who died on the beaches of Dieppe during The Second World War are interred in the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. After the raid of August 19th, 1942, the Germans buried Canadian and English casualties here. There are 957 graves of soldiers from Canada and other countries.

For the most recent information on the sites and museums, visit normandie-ddy.com. For more information visit www.normandie-tourisme.fr-normandy-tourism.org, or Facebook Normandie Tourisme, Normandy France, @normandy or @normandy_tourism.

All images supplied by Normandy Tourism

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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