The monument and the vehicles are all on the same location. The monument is to commemorate the 2nd French Armored Division, which landed here on August 1, 1944. This location was the starting point of a long journey, which came finally to an end in Berchtesgaden.
Just North of Utah Beach, the Varreville Dunes were ideally located to afford a link to the highway which would facilitate the unloading of men and material after the beach landings.
The beach and the highway are threatened by a German heavy gun battery installed at La Croix aux Berlots.
On the night of 28-29 May 1944, with remarkable precision, the R.A.F. dropped 1800 tons of bombs which annihilated this battery.
On 6 June, with 75 U.S. paratroopers, Lt. Colonel Robert G. Cole of the 101st Airborne Division reached this battery and controlled beach exits N3 and N4.
At dawn on 6 June, the 342nd Squardron of the "Free French Aerial Group Lorraine", commanded by Lt. Colonel Fourquet, participated in the beach landings by creating a smoke screen to shield the naval forces from the German Coast Artillery Batteries. At the extreme Eastern end of the Normandy Beach Landings, in the Department Calvados, Captain Kieffers’s Commando, made up of 171 French Marines, landed at 8h45 and took over the fortified position at Riva Bella.
On 1st August 1944, General Leclerc’s 2nd French Armored Division landed on this shore and immediately set out for La Haye du Puits and St James in the southern part of the Department of Mache.
This division was attached to the XXth corps of the U.S. Third Army under the command of General Georges S. Patton.
On 8 August, it reaches the outskirts of Le Mans and continues on toward Alencon. On 22 August General Leclerc is ordered to march on Paris and after the liberation of this city on 25 August the French 2nd Armored Division continues its advance on Strasbourg and, from there, reaches Berchtesgaden.
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- Text: W. Middelbos
- Photos: Lennard Bolijn