Ranville War Cemetery
Ways to visit Ranville War Cemetery
With its white headstones rising from manicured lawns, Ranville Cemetery is the resting place of 2,152 British soldiers lying alongside hundreds of other WWII military dead, including Canadians, New Zealanders, Germans, and the French. Many of the British belonged to the 6th Airborne Division, which, after landing by parachute and glider, helped ensure that Ranville was the first village in France to be liberated on June 6. The cemetery neighbors Ranville Churchyard, where another 47 Commonwealth graves lie.
While many visit independently to honor the dead and graves of family members, the cemetery also features on guided tours that depart from places like Bayeux and Paris and cover Normandy’s D-Day beaches and battle locations. By combining Ranville with Sword Beach, Pegasus Bridge, and key D-Day sites, the tours provide a convenient way to visit multiple locations in one seamless trip, complete with a guide’s insight.
Things to know before you go to Ranville War Cemetery
- Ranville War Cemetery is a must-visit for WWII history buffs, and those with connections to those buried here.
- Visitors should maintain respectful behavior while at the graves.
- The cemetery is free to visit.
- It’s wise to check the weather forecast as heavy rain can make navigating the graves challenging.
- The cemetery has no pathways. As you must cross the lawns to access individual graves, it can be difficult for wheelchair users to visit.
How to get to Ranville War Cemetery
The cemetery stands on Ranville’s Rue du Comte Louis de Rohan Chabot, about 8.6 miles (14 kilometers) northeast of Caen. To visit by car, take the D513 from Caen, turning left at Herouvillette. Alternatively, catch a cab or one of the frequent #11 buses from Caen, which pull up at Ranville’s Albert Camus bus stop, an approximate 5-minute walk away.
When to visit Ranville War Cemetery
The cemetery is open 24 hours a day, every day. Early morning and late afternoons are usually quiet times, and sunrise and sunset can be especially moving. Be aware that the cemetery gets busy on the D-Day anniversary, and that the neighboring churchyard is closed from 7pm to 8am daily.
What to see at Ranville War Cemetery
Visiting a military cemetery is always a poignant experience, but some graves have added resonance. Seek out the headstone of Private Emile Corteil, a British parachutist buried here with his dog, Glenn, parachuted in beside him on June 6. In the neighboring churchyard is Lt. Den Brotheridge, the first Allied soldier to die on D-Day.
- Pegasus Memorial Museum (Pegasus Bridge)
- Merville Battery (Batterie de Merville)
- Abbaye aux Dames
- Caen Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen)
- Normandy Museum (Musée de Normandie)
- Caen Castle (Château de Caen)
- Caen Memorial Museum (Mémorial de Caen)
- Abbaye aux Hommes
- La Colline aux Oiseaux Park (Parc de La Colline aux Oiseaux)
- Trouville (Trouville-sur-Mer)
- Mulberry Harbour
- Pays d'Auge