Normandy - June 1944

Chapter Two

Day 2 Friday 5th June 2015

(Author's note: Although the opening event(s) of today and tomorrow took place as recorded on this and the following page, it should be noted that the comings and goings on these two days were many and repetitive. Just to give you all an idea - these last two full days (Friday and Saturday), were spent more or less in the area enclosed by Crisbecq battery in the north, Dead Man's Corner in the south, UTAH Beach in the east on the coast and our camping site at Le Cormoron, three miles or so north.

From beginning to end our visit to Normandy was in no way "linear"; we returned during our stay to several, if not all of the sites many times for different reasons, each time with me photographing "sights and sites" over and over again as if to burn the memory of the events that had taken place here indelibly on my mind. In fact, short of keeping an immediate minute-by-minute written record of where we were and where we went at any given time during the day, it became impossible to keep track of our actual geographical movements.

The distance from the beginning to the end round those four points is only about 40 miles and we spent the two days simply criss-crossing that area to and from the pinned locations on VERY minor country lanes. A few of these separate hops were of a casual and social nature rather than belonging to a particular event or program. Consequently, on looking back - even after only a matter of days - it has become virtually impossible to separate in my mind precisely in what sequence we made all those "hops". The fact that none of our destinations was at any great distance from the others and all of them connected by only country lanes made it even more difficult for a stranger in the district to identify his specific location. Nevertheless this remains a record - albeit a conflated mèlange - of the last two days before Eric and I began our own slow return eastward along the coast for our final visits on Sunday 7th June.).

Early this morning we were up and about sharing a morning coffee. We decided to take a walk along UTAH beach and about 6-700 meters along we came across rather an interesting structure. I was somewhat amazed to see the dedicatory plate affixed to the side because geographically and historically it had little or nothing to do with this western extreme of the continent of Europe - it "belonged" far to the east - Poland perhaps, or Czechoslovakia...The name that so caught my attention on the dedicatory plaque was Janusz Korczak, well-known and honoured among Jews in general and Holocaust historians in particular. It is the pen name of the Polish author, educator, orphanage head-teacher and manager, whose real name was Henryk Goldszmidt. When the Nazis came during one of their infamous "Grossaktions" to collect the children under his care for transportation to Treblinka, he firmly refused all offers to save himself as "a special case" and - knowing full-well the outcome - accompanied his children to the camp where they were all exterminated. The inscription suggests the plaque was presented by an educational establishment with the names of many participants attached. Also visible is a brief comment in German: "Vielfalt ist unsere stärke" - (Diversity is our strength".)

The The Block House The Dedicatory Plaque

You may read more about Janusz Korzcak here:

Our first stop this morning was a Super U supermarket at Ste. Mère Église and it was at the supermarket that an extraordinary and inexplicable accident occurred: as I was getting out of the car and standing up, I closed the car door with a swing and unbelievably my head was still in its path and the extreme corner of the car door caught the lobe of my ear with great precision, how - we still don't know! I immediately put my hand up to my ear and sure enough there was some bleeding. There were some tissues in the car and I grabbed a handful and clutched them round the lobe of my ear and held it there for some minutes. Eric had a look at it and said that it had actually split the lobe right through to the back. We continued on with our minimal shopping with the addition of some plasters that Eric used - very successfully, I might add - to hold the torn, almost separated parts of the lobe together. Later on we checked into a local pharmacy where the pharmacist had a look and offered some advice which merely improved the dressing material and an antiseptic wash, since Eric had really done an excellent "first-responder" job. With the new plasters in place, I was told to leave them in situ for eight days and everything turned out fine with virtually no sign of any damage.

After that small mishap, we continued into Ste. Mère Église heading straight for its most iconic site - The Church itself, whose correct name is Église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, and the parachute hanging from the corner of the steeple with the dummy figure representing Pte John Steele (1912-1969), which I unashamedly photographed several times not only on this first visit but also on subsequent ones during the whole three days.

The group had decided to meet at Ste. Marie du Mont and we drove there and parked the car and strolled around looking for them and also taking note of the presence of the many re-enactors among whom were probably official groups with a wide variety of trucks, jeeps, mounted machine guns and drawn light artillery pieces were in evidence as well - lots and lots of equipment:


...and even lots more... is equipment as well??

Ste. Marie du Mont is also the site of a sort of "Flea-market" for memoribilia from the war, some of it clearly original and some clearly marked as reproductions and newly manufactured copies; the wares on display varied from what can only be described as junk metal remains of "something" to some real pieces of WWII left-overs:


Just one kilometer south-east of the farm on the D14 is this memorial to 101st Airborne Division, on the edge of the field they fought for:-


I also found this excellent commentary on Wikipedia:-

This link will take you back to the Introduction

While this link will take you back to    Chapter One

This one will take you to   Chapter Three

...and this one to   Chapter Four