Les Moulins Draw
The tiny hamlet of Les Moulins lies just north of St Laurent Sur Mer. In 1944 there was a tarmac paved road connecting the two and this road wound down from St Laurent which was built along the coastal road and dropped several hundred feet over about a mile from the village of St Laurent.
Before the war, on the coast itself were a number of dwellings and holiday homes and the lay out and the construction of the hamlet can be observed in the map below.
When the Germans began to defend this part of the Normandy coastline in preparation of the invasion, they decided to demolish many of the holiday homes right on the beach and those that remained were converted into 45 houses. Those dwellings slightly back from the coast were not destroyed and several large dwellings, including the mill, were in existence on 6th June 1944 and the position of the existing dwellings and of the strongholds which the Germans had built, is illustrated on the map below.
In addition to the fortified defensive positions the Germans had also constructed both anti-tank ditches and anti-tank walls in a V-shape protecting the road off the beach and up towards St Laurent. These provided formidable defensive structures which the Americans would have to penetrate if they were to capture the beach and access the road off the beach to the villages and countryside beyond.
We are fortunate that there are a number of photographs in existence which show not only the position of the draw before the invasion, but also immediately after the Americans and RAF managed to penetrate at least the first series of obstacles to allow them to take shelter within the valley leading to St Laurent on the first night of D-Day.
Based on the testimonies which can be read in the section Men and their Experiences , we think it is possible to trace the movements of the remaining vehicles and men of the first echelon of 21 BDS to a spot on the eastern side of the Les Moulins valley, close to a retaining wall which is still there today, and where in 1944 a substantial dwelling existed, part of which gave them shelter. This is now very close to the present day Omaha Beach Museum which is a prominent feature of this part of Omaha.