THIS IS NORMANDY; TODAY IS D-DAY, JUNE 6th, 71 YEARS ON AND I AM HERE!!
Despite the cold (and it has been consistently bitterly cold overnight since we arrived here), we were up and about early; we needed to get to UTAH beach in time for the re-enactment of the landings at 06:45 . We were on our way by 05:45 and had fairly clear roads for most of the way although heavier traffic was anticipated up ahead as we neared our objective, hence our early start for a relatively short journey, supposedly of about 7 Km. but it turned into a police-enforced roundabout route, a journey of about 14-15 km. to parking lots not too far from the beach. As those lots filled up newcomers were forced to park farther and farther "along the line".
Eric let me off opposite one of the breaks in the hedgerows and I walked through, turning right with others to walk a few hundred yards down the road and on to the beach through a gap in the bluff running along the beach - apparently one of the same still-extant openings actually used by the forces as they came off the beach 71 years ago today. To our dismay an error had been made in our timing and the disembarkation had taken place at the original 1944 hour of 06:30 and by the time we arrived virtually everything was over except for the casual return of some troops and various pieces of equipment from the water's edge some 6-700 yards out and, in truth, it would have been difficult indeed - especially facing directly into the sunrise - for most of the spectators to have been fully appreciative of any detail of what was actually going on out there, had we been on time.
The men came in on 20 LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) carrying four companies from the 8th Infantry Regiment.
Later on in the morning there was a parachute drop using modern style equipment and we came back to Utah to watch it. Very close by, up on the bluff, a ridge about 10-15 ft. high and running virtually the whole length of Utah, is the memorial to the Naval branch of the services and the price they and their ancillary forces paid to the allied victory; I took the opportunity to photograph the Naval memorial, before returning to the farm to spend time with the group:
Needless to say, the entire area is rich in memorials to events, battles and individuals who played a significant and conspicuous role; for example Major Richard Winters (1918-2011)....
....whose illustrious WWII record can be read here:-
"...But he will remember with advantage what feats he did that day..."
Henry V Act IV Scene iii before Agincourt
....and as it was:
Continuing on from there we drove into Carentan for the group to buy a few stores before going back to the farm at Le Grand Chemin.
On the way back from Carentan we stopped for a short break at a pleasant spot where we shared some water-melon...
....continuing on our way afterwards...
And so ended our last full-day stay in Normandy. Tomorrow morning Eric and I will be making our last couple of stops on the way home at Arromanches, to see the remains of Mulberry Harbour and then on to Ouistreham and the Pegasus Bridge.
While this link will take you back to Chapter One
...and this one will take you to   Chapter Four