Continuing east, past the jutting headland of Pointe du Hoc—capped by a haunted moonscape of bomb craters and shattered concrete bunkers after the American 2nd Rangers’ heroic action there on D-Day—lies Omaha Beach. It is enormous, and it’s easy to see why it was chosen for the landing of the largest body of troops on June 6. All is peaceful now, and unspoiled. From the sea it takes an almost impossible leap of imagination to picture the chaos of 60 years ago, and it also takes a sharp eye to spot the German gun emplacements that wrought such havoc in the first hours of the landings. But they are still there, embedded for all time in the untouched, grassy slopes. On the hill at Colleville a tall, proud flagstaff marks the location of the American cemetery.
Today Port-en-Bessin is a busy fishing harbor, which within a week of its liberation by British marines on June 8 was a vital military supply port, bringing in vehicles and supplies at the rate of 1,000 tons a day. It also became the first part of the PLUTO (PipeLine Under The Ocean) fuel-delivery system, bringing in gasoline for the armies from tankers offshore before the direct pipe link was completed between England and the French port of Cherbourg.