Your Guide to Omaha Beach

Introduction

Omaha Beach, was the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, during World War II. The beach is approximately 5 miles long (8 km) and stretches to west of Vierville-sur-Mer to the east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes. The villages of Colleville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and Vierville-sur-Mer are the locations for the majority of the Omaha Beach sites. La Pointe du Hoc is to the west of Omaha and a strategic point between Omaha and Utah Beaches.

Omaha Beach

The American troops who landed at Omaha Beach saw the heaviest losses with many shot down on the beach. Despite very little going to plan on D-Day, small groups of Americans made it up the slopes and some gains were made. However, the human cost was huge and this part of the conflict is often referred to as Bloody Omaha.

 

This video will give you an overview of the area around Omaha Beach and also La Pointe du Hoc.

The key sites include:
Overlord Museum Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer
La Pointe du Hoc site and Visitor Centre
Big Red One Assault Museum Colleville-sur-Mer
Normandy American Cemetery and Visitor Centre at Colleville-sur-Mer
Maisy Gun Battery at Grandcamp-Maisy
Liberation House at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer
Omaha Beach Memorial Museum (Musée Memorial d’Omaha Beach) at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer
The Omaha D-Day Museum (Musée D-Day Omaha) at Vierville-sur-Mer
La Cambe German military cemetery
Les Braves sculpture and memorial at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer
The Peace Statue at Grandcamp-Maisy

See the details below for each sites.

What To See In And Around Omaha Beach

Overlord Museum Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer

This substantial World War II museum was opened in 2014 and covers the conflict from its origins in the 1930s through to its conclusion in 1945. A mass of objects and documents help to give visitors a detailed picture of the war. It’s located fairly close to the Normandy American Cemetery. Their website has more details.

La Pointe du Hoc site and Visitor Centre

La Pointe du Hoc is located between Cricqueville-en-Bessin and Saint-Pierre-du-Mont. It was a heavily fortified headland surrounded by sheer cliffs. The US 2nd Ranger battalion landed here. Unfortunately the extreme challenges took their toll and they suffered the worst losses of all.

D-DayD-Day

Of the 225 men who had landed, only 90 were fit for battle by the end of the assault, and 80 of their number had died. There’s a Visitor Centre where you can start your visit before following the trail on foot right round the point. The ground still bears the scars of the battle with deep craters punctuated with gun casements and batteries. A memorial in the shape of a dagger overlooks the cliffs which proved fatal for so many American soldiers on D-Day. You can read an account of a visit to the site here
or visit the website.

Big Red One Assault Museum Colleville-sur-Mer

The Big Red One is the nickname of the 1st US Infantry Division who landed at Omaha on D-Day (the number 1 of their insignia was coloured red). Information about the museum is here.

Normandy American Cemetery and Visitor Centre at Colleville-sur-Mer

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More than a million visitors each year come to pay homage at this extremely poignant war cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. There are 9,387 graves dedicated to American soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day and in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. The names of 1,557 men missing in action are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing. The centrepiece of the memorial is a striking bronze statue is entitled ‘Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves’. The Normandy Visitors Centre opened in 2007 and tells the story of the D-Day Landings and Battle of Normandy. The cemetery and visitor centre are both free to visit. Read an account of a visit to this remarkable site here.

You can watch drone footage of the cemetery here. The scale of the site is incredible.

Maisy Gun Battery at Grandcamp-Maisy

This 44 hectare site lay forgotten for more than 60 years until it was re-discovered in 2006. The trenches, tunnels and underground buildings continue to be developped as the trenches and bunkers are restored. More information about Normandy’s best kept secret is on their website.

Liberation House at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

This house was the first to be liberated on the morning of D-Day. More details can be found here.

Omaha Beach Memorial Museum (Musée Memorial d’Omaha Beach) at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

Omaha Beach Memorial MuseumThe museum is set a short distance from Omaha Beach. Photographs, uniforms, personal items, equipment and vehicles give a glimpse into the landings at Omaha Beach. At the end of the visit you can watch a 25 minutes film with accounts from American veterans about the landings at Omaha and La Pointe du Hoc. The museum website is here.

The Omaha D-Day Museum (Musée D-Day Omaha) at Vierville-sur-Mer

This museum is housed in a former American hospital and contains a private collection of World War 2 memorabilia and artefacts. Visit the website here.

La Cambe German military cemetery

Almost 19 acres of land in the village of La Cambe were given to Germany by the French state. The cemetery is one of six German military cemeteries in Normandy. 21,222 German soldiers lie here.

Les Braves sculpture and memorial at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

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This beautiful sculpture is installed in the sand of Omaha Beach around 10 meters from the shore. It pays homage to the soldiers who landed here on 6th June 1944. It’s free to visit the sculpture. Read about a visit to the sculpture here.

The Peace statue at Grandcamp-Maisy

D-DayBoth the Peregory monument and the amazing World Peace Statue are free to visit at Grandcamp Maisy. They’re on the road from La Pointe du Hoc to Omaha beach and commemorate the bravery of the soldiers who scaled the cliffs at the point. More photos are here.