A World War II historic guide to discover the D-Day Landing Beaches in Normandy

Travel Normandy guide François Gauthron offers tours of the Normandy landing beaches, World War II battlefield. Come and discover the most famous part of Normandy where took place the Landing and the battle of Normandy in June 1944 to liberate France and Europe. You will be escorted by a qualified bilingual guide who will show you round the major sites of the beaches. Visit the highlights of World War II sites in Normandy with an expert license guide, first the most important sites of the landing beaches.

Normandy Travel

Travel in Normandy with Francois Gauthron

Utah Beach

A piece of cake

«General Omar N. Bradley called the assault landing on Utah Beach «a piece of cake», and it was, compared to that on Omaha»

General Omar N. Bradley called the assault landing on Utah Beach «a piece of cake», and it was, compared to that on Omaha. The landing plan called for the 4th Infantry Division (Major General Raymond O. Barton) to land along 2,200 yards of sandy beach on a two-regiment front, two battalions abreast. Colonel James A. Van Fleet's 8th Infantry (including the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry) was to land at 0630, followed by the 22d Infantry in eighty-five minutes and the 12th Infantry at 1030.

DD tanks were to lead the way in, preceded by an intense naval and air bombardment. Various engineer units were scheduled to land close behind the infantry to clear beach obstructions and to blow gaps in the low sea wall paralleling the beach.

The landing of the thirty-two DD tanks was delayed when one of the control ships was sunk by a mine. Four of the tanks were lost when the LCT carrying them sank before they could be launched. In contrast to the heavy losses off Omaha, twenty-eight DD's made it to the beach able to provide fire support for the infantry already ashore.

Roosevelt, Theodore, Jr.

Rank and organization: brigadier general, U.S. Army. Place and date: Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Oyster Bay, N.Y. Birth: Oyster Bay, N.Y. G.O. No.: 77, 28 September 1944.


For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.

Brigadier General Roosevelt

The strong offshore current carried the first wave of infantry some 2,000 yards south, causing the boats to beach in front of the German strong point at La Grande Dune (a half-mile south of your present location). Fortunately, the defences there were much weaker than those on the intended beach, due in part to visual bombing by the medium bombers of the IX Bomber Command and naval fire support.
The point blank bombardment by the B-26's was a crucial factor in the success at Utah beach, in contrast to the pre-1st wave bombardment at Omaha.

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, assistant division commander, landed with the first wave, the only general officer to do so on D-Day. Shortly after coming ashore, Roosevelt, disregarding his personal safety, surveyed the beach before him and made two decisions that decisively influenced the course of the battle. Realizing that he and the first wave had landed a mile south of their assigned beach, he ordered the following waves to come in on this new beach. Emphasizing that decision for Colonel Eugene Caffey of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, he said, «We're going to start the war from here». He then ordered the advance inland to begin immediately along the causeway leading to Beach Exit 2, directly to his front. For his heroism that morning, Roosevelt was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Roosevelt Café, then and now

The 101st had just freed Carentan on June 12th and were expecting a German counter-attack which happens the next day, Enemy paratroopers of the 37th Regiment belong the 17th SS started the assault. They were commanded by LT. Col. Von der Heydte; fortunately their progression was stopped by the American paratroopers supported by the 2nd Armoured Division commanded by General Ross, at the end of the day the new front line was pushed south of Méautis. This is also the village were General Theodore Roosevelt died on July 12th as you will see on the plaque.

A Great Success

The 3d Battalion, 8th Infantry, quickly passed across the flooded area behind the beach to higher ground (along the road you have just driven to reach La Madeleine). The 2d Battalion moved along the beach to the south and opened up Exit 1 to Pouppeville and Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Three battalions of the 22d Infantry moved north to clear opposition from Exit 4. Before dark, the 1st and 2d battalions of the 22d Infantry had linked up with the 502d Parachute Infantry west of Saint-Germain-de-Varreville. Late afternoon also found the 2d and 3d battalions, 8th Infantry, astride route N 13 at Les Forges, but they had failed to link up with the 505th Parachute Infantry holding Sainte-Mère-Église two miles to the north. By then, the first elements of the 90th Infantry Division had come ashore. The landing on Utah Beach was becoming the big success story of D-Day.

In proud memory of our dead

In addition to a D-Day museum, La Madeleine is the site of these monuments:

  • an obelisk commemorating the D Day landing of the 4th U.S. Infantry Division,
  • a stone commemorating the 90th U.S. Infantry Division.

The first (designated 00) of the 1182 cylindrical milestones marking the «Voie de la Liberté», the route that the U.S. Third Army followed from Normandy to Bastogne. All bear forty-eight stars and a symbolic torch of liberty patterned after that held aloft by «Liberty» in New York harbor. They are similar to the stones which line La Voie Sacrée (the Sacred Way), the road from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun along which hundreds of thousands of French soldiers moved in 1916. A monument to the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, raised in 1945 atop a blockhouse of the W5 strongpoint. This massive blockhouse, captured on D-Day and used as the Brigade HQ, contains a memorial crypt (protected by a locked iron grill) commemorating the members of the Brigade who died on Utah Beach. Another plaque commemorates Maj. General Eugene Mead Caffey and the achievements of the Brigade he commanded. Other plaques in French and English commemorate the assault on Utah Beach.

An imposing stone plinth, unveiled by General J. Laughton Collins on 5 June 1984, commemorating «in humble tribute... its sons who lost their lives in the liberation of these beaches, June 6, 1944».

A stone plaque marking the presence of the heads of state of the United States, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands for the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

A stone plaque commemorating General Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander.

Some fifty-nine road signs named after members of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade who died in the fighting on Utah Beach.