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Armor in Normandy - Museums & Monuments

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By way of a 'taster' for a future article looking at points of interest in France's Normandy region, here's a photo-feature looking at some of the many AFVs which are present as both museum exhibits and as permament memorials.

The Museum vehicles
In general, the state of preservation of these vehicles, is better than those which are left to their own devices outside. Particularly notable in this respect are the AFVs in two museums - the Memorial Museum to the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux and those at the museum center of Pegasus Bridge. In the case of the former, there are a total of four vehicles outside - a Churchill VII (Crocodile), an M10, an M4 and a German Hetzer. Although the paintwork on these vehicles is slightly suspect, real care has been taken with those inside the museum. The highlights are the M7, the M9 Bulldozer and a good example of a GMC truck with hard body. Outside the Pegasus bridge Museum, there is a 5.5" gun, an M3a1 H/T, a 40mm Bofors, a reproduction of a Horsa Glider and a 25 Pounder artillery piece.

Regarding museum vehicles, the real negativity comes with the VERY bizarre schemes applied to the vehicles outside the Atlantic Wall Museum at Ouistreham (Sword Beach). A Priest, an M3a1, an M5a1 (incorrectly labeled) along with a German 88mm gun and an LCM (6?). The state of preservation of the M4 at the Omaha Beach Museum is also very poor indeed. In such a crucial and much-visited location, it almost comes down to the level of contempt.

Vehicles as Monuments
There are undoubtedly many that I missed although here are a few that I saw (and photographed). Beside the (New) bridge at Ranville-Benouville (Pegasus Bridge), there's a Centaur, whose state of preservation is little more than derisory. In need of a touch of TLC, is a an unusual subject in the form of a DD M4 which with plaques of the Canadian units which landed at JUNO. This vehicle, which was recovered from the sea, can be seen around the harbor area of Courselles-Sur-Mer.

Seen, (but unfortunately NOT photographed), on the main road to Ouistreham, are a couple of VERY interesting subjects in the form of a Churchill with Petard launcher (Mk. IV turret) and another Centaur. Also seen from the road (although not visited) is a private museum which seems to consist of wrecks which have been 'trawled' from the sea. This can be seen on the road from Bayeux to Colleville-Sur-Mer (OMAHA).

The Photos
More than anything, due to time restrictions (and ease of access), I didn't really go into as much detail as I could have and didn't do full walk-rounds of the vehicles. I've tried to give a flavor of the huge amount of vehicles that ARE present. In the othe feature i'm writing, i'll try and go into detail of the of museums we visited However, if you ARE lucky enough to visit Normandy, the Samur Armor Museum is 'doable' - with some serious planning!

Meanwhile, enjoy this taster!
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About the Author

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...


Thanks for getting that posted Darren...
NOV 12, 2008 - 09:35 PM
Hi Jim, nice article. I saw many of these vehicles when I was in Normandy earlier this year. Further to your point on poor preservation, get a load of these close-ups I took of the Hetzer. Chas
NOV 12, 2008 - 11:20 PM
Jim a nice feature and some nice reference, i would quite like to go to normandy. the stuart (??) looked a bit suspect on the ole paint job, looks like someone asked a painter to do it in army colours" Ps chas that first pic of urs! rust!!:D:D i love rust!
NOV 12, 2008 - 11:29 PM
It was a pleasure Jim, three features on the same area and all totally unique.
NOV 13, 2008 - 04:12 AM
The problem with Normandy is there's so damn much of it... There's also, in the interests of fairness, just so much you can drag SWMBO around to as well Saying that, she was incredibly patient and VERY co-operative indeed even to the extent of walking the entire length of Omaha. For those who've probably noticed a lack of German subjects in this and the other feature (Postcard from Normandy) the explanation is quite simple. Following the war, it was either recovered and put into French service, scrapped, or. fortunately for us, recovered for evaluation by the Allies and ended its days in various military museums around the world - particularly Samur... Some did find its way onto various firing ranges as well...
NOV 13, 2008 - 05:10 AM