The German defenders, dug into ten strong points along Omaha cliff top, believed that around 1000 ships existed throughout the world. Imagine their surprise and shock when dawn broke on the 6th June 1944 and they discovered 6,939 ships of all sizes headed straight for them.... with the intention of delivering over 150,000 men onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
This story and many others can all be brought into focus when you take a guided battlefield tour with Adrian Ridley-Jones, a retired British Army Officer. He lives in the heart of all this action (living in a farm on land formerly fought over by the Vikings and then the Germans and Americans and owned by a collaborator). Indeed staying at his farmhouse accommodation allows for a more relaxed and personalised tour (as well as a detailed walk through the ambush at La Rougerie).
Adrian is a qualified teacher, member of the European Tour Operators Association and in the Guild of Battlefield Guides. Adrian is extremely well placed to bring these stories alive, as he also guides you through the strategic backdrop to the landings. Indeed he does it so well, that not only do some clients return for further trips adding more detail to their understanding of the events, but he is the European 2018 Winner of Unique Tour Operators in the Luxury Travel Guide.
Whilst you may be able to tour in vehicles with a greater capacity, each tour is normally in a Range Rover seating a group of four people so that you can visit those places other tours can't reach!
The size of the beaches and drop zones doesn't appear to be very large however, when you add the time to visit locations and rest stops it takes two full days to see the area properly. Anything less and you are merely skimming the surface and missing interesting and critical locations and battles. Tours are therefore normally two days or sometimes an extra day for a specific battle further afield like the Cauldron or Mortain. For fuller details see the page outlining the options.
Maisy battery is continuing to create a lot of interest. (Discovery channel 5 Feb 2020 8 pm EST, Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7967379/Secret-Nazi-World-War-II-bunkers-discovered-near-D-Day-beaches.html and Fox News).
As one of the few guides to actually visit this site with clients, I am pleased to be able to report current developments from either one of the three sites that comprise the Maisy complex or from associated and related people.
Adrian with Roy O'Neil
- The three books written about the site have ended up rendering obsolete all books (and arguably tours) written about Omaha and Utah.
- This battery was a regional control centre for both artillery and anti aircraft fire (having the only regional control centre in France other than Brest).
- The battery fired for three days onto both beaches as well as impacting a lot of aircraft flying around.
- The battery AAR (written by now Maj Gen Raan who revisited the site last in 2019) was rewritten when he realised the mistakes now enshrined in the history books, no longer reflected what actually happened there.
- The Rangers school in the USA is renaming its school, dropping the name of Lt Col Rudder because he failed so badly at the Pointe du Hoc (the Rangers didn't even know of the 6 objectives Rudder had and why their heroism is that much greater!)