INTRODUCTION

 

Normandy - June 1944

 

 

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered -
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

                  Henry V Act IV scene iii

 

This is not intended to be a chronological military history, beladen with names, dates, times, actions and army units. For those facts you will have to refer to recognised, competent historians of warfare who are infinitely more knowledgeable and capable than am I and whose bona fides are as far above me as Arcturus Centauri is from planet Earth; my purpose is merely to record, basically in pictorial form with some added comments, my visit to the Normandy Landing sites eternalized on June 6th 1944 and the following days, as a result of my recent visit to those places during the first week of June 2015.

It was my second visit, the first being made somewhat casually and - let it be said - ineffectively - about 7 or 8 years ago and which took only a few hours. Most of the important sites, apart from the Pegasus Bridge, were missed entirely and even that memorable site was in several ways either mis-interpreted or not appreciated to its fullest extent. I had knowingly failed entirely to exploit the opportunity presented to me and was determined to revisit Normandy more thoroughly. The opportunity presented itself this year of 2015 when a projected visit to London was cancelled and we spent that week and a half in France in anticipation of a family event to take place half-way through the month. This chance brought us earlier to France on June 3rd, rather than the twelve days or so later as originally envisaged.

Eric, and several friends are annual devotees of re-enactment activities and to varying degrees experts on the topic. Eric and I had, in any case, spoken several times of my desire to revisit the Normandy Landing sites and since he was certainly capable of guiding me through a visit it seemed like a heaven-sent opportunity and the whole idea was firmed-out in the week or so prior to our arrival.

In spite of being familiar with, and much affected by well-made movies, historical presentations and serious documentaries over the years that had sensitized me deeply (as with other historical sites of all categories), I found my emotions profoundly stirred and had much difficulty in controlling them even, on occasion, impossible; to actually be in the precise locality of the events that took place here, I found myself unexpectedly and powerfully overwhelmed. My own thoughts and reactions on this topic go a long way towards explaining the world-wide and historical phenomenon of "pilgrimage" in all its forms, no matter who or what the object being venerated may be.

As Sir Steven Runciman so eloquently and clearly explains in his three-volume work of the Crusades - albeit in connection with the earlier growth of pilgrimages to the Holy Land directed to the Divine:

"The desire to be a pilgrim is deeply rooted in human nature. To stand where those that we reverence once stood, to see the very sites where they were born and toiled and died, gives us a feeling of mystical contact with them and is a practical expression of our homage. And if the great men of the world have their shrines to which their admirers come from afar, still more do men flock eagerly to those places where, they believe, the Divine has sanctified the earth."
Steven Runciman: "A History of the Crusades" Vol. I Cap III.

 

What you have before you are the results of that visit from June 4th until June 7th 2015 in pictorial form with here and there a short video clip and some links to closely related topics and references. I have divided the "chapters" or pages into the order in which the sites and their contents were visited and added as many of the total of 357 photographs - including several of the same subject from second or third visits - as seemed to me, personally, and in response to my emotional involvement at any given moment, fitting and appropriate.
 
They shall grow not old, as we that are left, grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.
"For the fallen" - Laurence Binyan.
 
This link will take you to Chapter One