Normandy is known across the entire world because of the notorious events that, sadly, have left their mark on the region’s history. It was the scene of events that helped determine the outcome of the Second World War, namely the landings of 6th June 1944 and the ensuing Battle of Normandy. At the Battle of Normandy memorial and various museums and monuments, visitors to Orne can now retrace this chapter of history. Make the most of your weekend in Orne to visit the most iconic sites telling the story of the Battle of Normandy.
D-Day in Normandy
Information about the Landing Beaches and the Battle of Normandy.
The Montormel Memorial – Museum of the Battle of Normandy
If there’s one museum you absolutely must visit during your stay in Normandy, it’s none other than that of the Montormel Memorial. It stands at a unique location, on “Hill 262”, overlooking the Dives Valley. This is the spot where the Battle of Normandy ended when, in August 1944, the Falaise-Chambois pocket of resistance closed in on the Germans. The site was also, according to Eisenhower, the scene of one of the largest massacres of the entire war. Between 19th and 20th August, 10,000 German troops were killed by gunfire and bombs in the corridor of death, the final opening in the Falaise-Chambois pocket of resistance.
Above all, the Montormel Memorial pays homage to the Polish soldiers who were specifically in charge of defending “Hill 262”. Engraved into the remembrance memorial overlooking the Dives Valley are the names of the military units involved in the fighting that took place here:
•Polish 1st Armoured Division
•French 2nd Armoured Division
•American 90th Infantry Division
•Canadian 4th Armoured Division
Two army vehicles are also permanently exhibited on the hill:
•A Sherman M4A1 tank of the Polish 1st Armoured Division
•An M8 Greyhound of the French 2nd Armoured Division
As for the museum part of the Montormel Memorial, this explains in detail the battle fought by the Falaise-Chambois pocket of resistance, by means of an interactive model, a guided tour showing the battlefield itself, and a film that includes footage from that period.
The June 44 Museum in L’Aigle
Orne has several museums devoted to the Second World War, including the June 44 Museum in L’Aigle. This site retraces the decisive events of the Battle of Normandy, plunging visitors into the atmosphere of the Second World War. This immersive tour features 12 reconstituted scenes of waxwork figures in an extremely realistic decor. You’ll see the various protagonists of this conflict, including General de Gaulle, Marshal Pétain, General Leclerc, Churchill and Roosevelt. You can even listen to their voices as various recordings from the period are played during the tour. To find out more about how the Battle of Normandy unfurled, check out the 36m² animated map presenting its main events.
The small “Liberation of Berjou 39-45” museum, in Berjou
In Berjou, north-east of Flers, you can visit the museum of the Liberation of Berjou. More than just a museum, this is truly a site of remembrance devoted to the Battle of Normandy. Here you’ll see dozens of objects that were retrieved from the battlefields of Le Noireau following the fighting of 15th, 16th and 17th August 1944 and that led to the liberation of Berjou. While this small museum exhibits ancient weapons of war, old uniforms and maps that have yellowed over time, its atmosphere emanates first and foremost from the testimonies of the people who donated these items.
The Tiger Tank of Vimoutiers
On a visit to Vimoutiers, you can stop to contemplate a Tiger Tank that remains from the Second World War. Abandoned by the Germans on 19th August 1944, this war machine was added to the historical monuments list in 1975.
“Les Gateys” Necropolis in Saint Nicolas des Bois
In Orne, it is also possible to reflect at the tomb of French soldiers who died in battle. Owned by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the necropolis of “Les Gateys” pays homage to the soldiers of the French 2nd Armoured Division who fell during the liberation of Orne. In this military cemetery lie 19 soldiers, and the site is also home to the “Maison des anciens de la 2e D.B.”, a veterans association that aims to keep alive the memory of these men and their sacrifice.
The Second World War left more than just a mark on Orne. It contributed to shaping its very history and inextricably links this French department to those tragic events. No matter where you go in Orne, you can see traces of the conflict that will help you understand the essential place held by Orne in the Second World War.
For any further information during your holiday in Orne, ask for the document:
“D-Day Normandie – Terre de liberté” by contacting:
Hôtel du Département
27, boulevard de Strasbourg
61017 Alençon cedex
Tel: +33 (0)2 33 28 88 71 – Fax: +33 (0)2 33 29 81 60