We continue our visit to the Overlord Museum with a look at what’s inside…
The Overlord Museum is probably the most remarkable private military museum in Normandy. Located on the D514 coastal road next to Omaha Beach and the US Military Cemetery near the village of Colleville-sur-Mer it is impossible to miss.
The museum, opened in 2013, houses the vast collection of Mr Michel Leloup, which he started in 1971 with the purchase of a German Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack, similar to one he had used in the postwar years for transporting lumber to his sawmill. Repurposed military vehicles played a large role in rebuilding war-torn Normandy, and subsequently many vehicles in the exhibition had a second life in civilian roles before being restored for the museum. A lot more information can be found on the museum’s official homepage:
Let’s start with the tour through the exhibition. All information is presented in French, English and German.
The first part deals with the German occupation of France. A 3,7 cm Pak 36 stands exemplary for the older equipment used by occupation forces along the channel coast.
As the name implies, the main focus however is with the Battle of Normandy. Hours before the beach assault came the Airborne forces to secure key locations behind the coast.
US captured Kettenkrad:
7,5 cm Pak 40…pointing to the next scene…
An M4A1 76(W) is the centrepiece of a large beach diorama….but as you may know, th 76mm armed Shermans only came ashore almost a month after the invasion. Only a minor issue, but worth mentioning.
Some space is dedicated to logistics:
On the German side, the famous “Acht-Acht”, 8,8 cm Flak 36…
…as well as a potential target…
Various uniforms and smaller equipment are presented in scenic dioramas:
M4A4 Sherman. This type wasn’t used by US forces so the markings are somewhat inaccurate.
Right next to it a large workshop scene displays a damaged Panther Ausf. A as well as various smaller relics:
Also worth mentioning is the huge Strabokran, considering the reliability of most German tanks one of the most important pieces of equipment.
Sd.Kfz. 9, the legendary FAMO – saved from a construction company that planned to convert it into a bulldozer:
Borgward B IV Ladungsleger:
A well restored Panzer IV Ausf. H:
British Lloyd Carrier – used for logging postwar:
Ford Maultier, used for years to harvest the famous Norman apples!
Sd.Kfz. 251/7 – this Pionierpanzerwagen continued to serve with a road construction company!
Ersatzfeldwagen 43. It’s often ignored how much the “high tech” German forces relied on technology Julius Caesar would have been familiar with.
This Willys Jeep was found in a barn and is displayed unrestored:
On the ceiling on the entrance hall hangs a V1:
A final look back inside:
And this concludes our visit to Overlord Museum. Definitely worth seeing, even though the exhibition is often cramped and somewhat dark. I very much hope they have the funds to expand further and allow for a more spacious presentation of their often unique exhibits.
I should also mention the large selection of military literature available in the museum shop, along with the more usual paraphernalia common to such establishments.