Watch HBOs’s excellent 'Band of Brothers': it follows the airborne who supported the Utah beach invasion, before moving on to Carentan and Operation Market Garden
Utah Beach was one of five beaches used for the D-Day landing in June 1944, as the Allies attempted to break Germany’s hold on the continent. Strategically, it was chosen to ensure the early capture of Cherbourg, which they hoped would prove a vital port for receiving the vast amounts of equipment and supplies needed for the forthcoming conflict.
The target beach was about three miles wide and the German fortifications here were weak compared to those on Omaha beach. The landing was scheduled for 06.30, but airborne soldiers were deployed at 01.30 to cause chaos behind enemy lines. The Germans did not know if this was the main force or if it was a decoy, and this confusion was exactly what the Allies wanted.
When 20,000 infantry landed on the beach five hours later they did not meet strong resistance. In part this was due to a stroke of luck: strong current meant they landed 2000 metres down the beach from where they had intended, and where they landed the fortifications were much weaker. For this reason, the casualties at Utah Beach were many fewer than those at Omaha Beach.
Beyond being able to walk along the shores where such a pivotal moment in world history took place, there is also a museum about the D-Day invasion. The museum has documentaries and exhibitions that immerse you in story of the day and the preparation that preceded it. A collection of objects, vehicles and oral histories make it very immersive. Most impressive, though, is the original B25 bomber, one of only six remaining examples of this airplane still in existence.
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