Last month when we were in France we visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville sur Mer. It is situated on a cliff overlooking the eastern end of Omaha beach and the English Channel and covers 172.5 acres.
As we drove back to the main road from Omaha beach we noticed a sign to the cemetery. We followed the sign partly out of curiosity and because we were there. Having parked our car in an emptyish car park we then walked initially in the direction of the coast before turning west to walk parallel to the beach. We must have been walking for a good ten minutes when the path turned to the left and there before us were white crosses fanning out in all directions as far as the eye could see. I was quite taken aback to see so many graves. There are 9,387 graves of American military and air force personnel who died as a result of the D Day landings and in the ensuing operations. In addition the Walls of the Missing bear the names of 1,557 service men
who do not have graves. Each grave is marked with an absolutely pristine white cross - the Latin cross for Christians and the Star of David for those of the Jewish faith. It was not possible to work out the age of the fallen servicemen as the crosses bear only their name and the date of their death. Even on a grey and windy day the cemetery looked immaculately groomed with the usual silence of a cemetery being broken only by the waves of the English Channel breaking on the beach below. This satellite photo shows the sheer size if the cemetery. We had not known quite what to expect as the only other war cemetery that we had visited was at Souda Bay on Crete, which is much smaller.