The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader Rollo in 911 (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks Charles the Simple. In exchange for his homage, Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins.
Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest culminating at the Battle of Hastings while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants. In 1204, during the reign of King John, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II while insular Normandy (the Channel Islands) remained under English control.
In 1259, Henry III of England recognized the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris. His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland French Normandy and was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War in 1346-1360 and again in 1415-1450.
During World War II, the town of Dieppe was the site of the ill-fated Dieppe Raid by Canadian and British armed forces. More successful was the later Operation Overlord (also known as D-Day), a massive invasion of German-occupied France by Allied troops. Many Norman towns endured heavy casualties in the fight for the province.
14 Aug 2004 - Normandy, FranceThe TA often organises battlefield tours and on this occasion it was to Normandy, militarily famous for the D-Day landings in World War II. The focus of this weekend trip was the beaches which were used for the invasion.
Normandy - Omaha beach, gun emplacement I
The invasion occurred on five beaches and on this, Omaha beach, the bloodiest casualties were sustained. The beach is 5 miles long and was defended by a number of strong points of which this is named WN62. This bunker contained heavier artillery and faced down the beach to ensure that flanking fire could be brought on any attacker and also be defended to some extent by incoming fire from the sea.
Normandy - Omaha beach, on top of a gun emplacement
Strongpoint WN62 is near the eastern end of Omaha beach and this view is from the top of a bunker looking east. Back in 1944 the area between the from here down to the sea would have been covered in obstacles and mines. By the end of June 6th 1944, Omaha beach had cost the Americans 3000 men killed or injured.
Normandy - Omaha beach, gun emplacement II
This is another bunker housing a heavy artillery piece. Extensive damage to the front can be seen.
Normandy - Omaha beach, slit bunker
This position is part of a concrete bunker with a fairly narrow slit in providing great views to the front. The heavy gun emplacement in the previous photographs can be seen in front and is the sqare shaped structure. There was no indication what this was used for; perhaps it was an observtion point or it may have functioned as a machine gun position.
Normandy - Sherman tank
Positioned outside one of the museums are a number of tanks; this one is the Sherman tank and was the main medium tank of the Allied forces. Though not as good technically as the German tanks which it opposed, it was relatively simple to produce and produced in prodigious numbers.
Normandy - British graves
Just one small view of the thousands of graves which lie all over Normandy. In one of the grave yards we found the grave of Gunner N Haigh (4544226) of the 55th Anti-Tank Regt RA, Loyal Suffolk Hussars who died on the 29th July 1944 age 29. We took an interest in this particular grave because this was the unit that was the predecessor of our own unit, 202 Battery RA(V) which in June 2006 converted to 677 Squadron, 6 Regt Army Air Corps.
Normandy - Arromanches
Along this coastline was Gold Beach and was used by British troops in the invasion. Arromanches was selected as one of the sites for two Mulberry Harbours built on the Normandy coast, the other one built further West at Omaha. Sections of the harbour at Arromanches still remain today with huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand, and more can be seen further out at sea. Supply was a major factor and as the major ports were denied to them, the Allies brought along these huge floating harbours.
Normandy - Pegasus bridge
The D-Day invasion involved airbourne landings in the rear of the German positions to prevent reinforcements from reaching the invasion bridges where the crucial early battles would be fought. Controlling some of the bridges into the area was one of the objectives that was set and this bridge has since become famous. The bridge crossing the Caen canal has now been replaced but the original has been kept and moved into the grounds of a museum a short distance away,
Normandy - Cafe Gondree
This house house near Pegasus Bridge was the first to be liberated during D-Day. It is now a cafe and small museum that sells Pegasus Bridge related material. The lady who runs the cafe (June 2006) was a small child actually living in the house when it was liberated.