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Arromanches, Museums, and Longues-sur-Mer

In the bay of Arromanches-les-Bains lie the remains of one of the two Mulberry Harbours, the prefabricated floating harbours the Allies towed from England and sunk off the Normandy coast after their D-Day landings. The best time to view them (and to walk out to them) is at low tide. D-Day museums can be found in towns all along the coastline but this town's Musée du Débarquement is supposed to be one of the better ones. Among the others are Arromanches 360 (a circular building shortly before entering the town), Douvres la Délivrande's Musée Radar, Port-en-Bessin's Musées des Épaves Sous-Marines du Débarquement, Bayeux's Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie, the Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-mer (the Canadian museum on the D-Day beaches), Saint-Laurent's Musée Omaha 6 Juin 1944, Grandcamp-Maisy's Musée des Rangers, and Sainte-Mère-Église's Musée des Troupes Aéroportées, a building in the form of an open parachute. (An American equivalent opened in New Orleans on June 6, 2000: the National D-Day Museum, while Bedford, Virginia, shelters the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.)

Some 6 km (3.7 miles) west of Arromanches is the massive German gun emplacement of Longues-sur-Mer, the artillery pieces of which threatened both Gold Beach to the East and Omaha Beach to the West. The observation post is where German Major Werner Pluskat had spent the night regularly sweeping the horizon with his artillery binoculars, when suddenly, early in the morning, he stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, as he saw the scattering, thinning mist magically filling with thousands of Allied ships — "a ghostly armada that somehow had appeared from nowhere". In those first few moments, he knew, calmly and surely (as he later told Cornelius Ryan), that "this was the end for Germany".

Further west is the bloodiest landing area of D-Day, Omaha Beach

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© Erik Svane