Most recently I've been on holiday in Northern France, Brittany and Normandy and very nice it was too.
For a lot of the time we were walking along the 'granite' coast of Brittany. It was very easy walking (good as we're not that fit) and very satisfying walking from hotel to hotel. Perhaps of more interest to readers here though, we then had a few days in NORMANDY staying in Bayeux. In all I spent about a day & half doing various of the battle sites.
First up we visited the famous Pegasus Bridge where Major Howard's gliders landed. We were lucky to see it open for a passing boat. This is actually a replacement, the original bridge (which I think is somewhat smaller) is in the Pegasus museum nearby. I peeked over the fence to get a look at it but we didn't have the time to go around the museum itself.
Then a walk along the canal, towards nearby Le Port. There was fierce fighting here and in nearby Bénouville throughout D-Day as the paras held off German counterattacks.
This church is well known to me at least from the Too Fat Lardies, Chain of Command game which was run at both Salute and at Operation Market Larden this year. It was very atmospheric to see this place I had read about for real. A lot fewer visitors here of course than at Pegasus Bridge & the Café Gondrée.
Then on to Bernières-sur-Mer on Juno beach where the Canadians (specifically the Queens' Own Rifles of Canada and the French Canadian Régiment de la Chaudière) came ashore on D-Day. This claims to be the oldest D-Day memorial which was put up in 1949.
This house, shown both as it is today and as it was on D-Day was said to be the first house in France to be liberated by seaborne troops.
As one of my other interests is cycling, I was especially interested in this board. Apparently the Canadian landing craft included bicycles with the intention that these be used to allow the troops to get inland quickly. Some of these pictures show the troops wading ashore with their bikes!
Finally on to Pointe Du Hoc, where the US rangers climbed up the cliffs to the battery at the top. It is amazing to think that anyone could have done that under fire. Although they quickly secured a foothold at the clifftop, it wasn't until 8th June that the battery was fully taken by the Americans.
Here is a view back towards Omaha beach (which we didn't visit).
I found Pointe du Hoc an amazing and very moving place even though it was by far the busiest of the sites we went to. (You can see the hoards just trying to edge into this picture)
I also visited a couple of the bigger D-Day museums. I plan to write about those separately, when I have a moment. There is though loads more to see and if I get a chance to go back, I'd love to see more.
If you ever have the chance, also do not miss the Bayeux Tapestry. This is very well displayed and we, at least, were fortunate that it were very quiet when we were then. There was a somewhat annoying audioguide which you could not pause, thus encouraging you to keep moving smartly so as to keep up with it; we quickly gave that up and just enjoyed the tapestry, occasionally trying to decipher the latin.
|Photo courtesy of Bayeux museum|
|from The Bayeux Tapestry, David M Wilson|
And finally, I reached a personal milestone of my own while in Bayeux. I also seem to have sprouted three allied flags from the top of my head!