WWII and New Orleans

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When we were told not to miss the WWII museum when we visited New Orleans earlier this year, I was surprised. First, I didn’t know that there was such a museum in New Orleans. And second, I was surprised that someone would choose New Orleans as a location for such a museum. What possible significance could New Orleans have had with the second world war?

One person — Andrew Higgins.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower called Higgins, “the man who won the war for us.”

I’m not a WWII afficionado, but even I know that the allied invasion of Normandy was the event that turned the tide of the war. And when you think about that invasion, what comes to mind? —

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A model of the Higgins boat at the WWII Museum in New Orleans.

boats pulling up to the beaches, lowering a ramp, and soldiers marching off into the water towards the beach, many to their deaths. I think that must have been one of the most horrifying experiences ever.

Although you might not want to have been a soldier on one of those boats, those HIggins landing crafts were what made the invasion not only possible, but successful. Without the ability to land forces directly onto beaches, the allies would have had to try to bust their way into well-guarded ports in German-occupied France.

“Higgins’ contribution was to design and mass-produce boats that could ferry soldiers, jeeps, and even tanks from a ship at sea directly onto beaches,” (WWII Museum signage).

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The Normandy landing craft actually evolved from a vessel designed by Higgins called the Eureka. It was a rugged, shallow-bottomed craft Higgins designed to navigate the swamps of Louisiana. It was used by trappers and oil companies.

Initially focused on the invasion of Normandy, the D-Day Museum opened June 6, 2000, the 56th anniversary of D-Day. According to local lore, over time collectors of WWII artifacts gave items to the museum. It expanded its focus and became known as the WWII Museum.

The museum has a large atrium where they WWII aircraft on display, hanging from the ceiling.

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It is a cavernous room about three stories high.

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A few ground vehicles are displayed on the entry level.

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There are many things in life that pictures just cannot do justice to. And this museum space is one. There is no way to show you how impressive this display was.

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A stairway or elevator will transport you to upper level walkways where you can view the planes up close. You can see the walkways stretching across the room in this photo.

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And in this one. I am a bit acrophobic, and I’ll admit that I had some trouble once I got to the top level. I was in good company. A young woman was waiting beside the elevator there with the same problem. You can tell by looking at the people on the ground level just how high up you are.

I did manage to get a couple of pictures of My Gal Sal from above.

My dad couldn’t get enough of WWII stories, movies, books, airplane models . . .I now have a large percentage of his collection of WWII books. Whether you are a WWII fan, or not, if you make it to New Orleans allow time to spend several hours here. You’ll be glad you did.

See more posts about our February trip to New Orleans.

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12 thoughts on “WWII and New Orleans”

    1. Thanks Colline. It was pretty awesome being there. I’m originally from Dayton, OH and have visited the Airforce Museum there multiple times. It is a great museum as well.

    1. You probably would. You taught history, didn’t you?

      Sometimes I think I must have slept through high school history class for the amount I know. . .

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