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Day 1 Thursday 4th June 2015
Normandy - June 1944
Eric and I left Rue Largny in Haramont sometime around mid-morning,
turning south-west on to the N2 at the landmark Windmill. We drove most
of the way towards Paris before turning off onto the A13 to take us
north-west slightly south of Rouen, towards Caen and Bayeux. We used the
by-pass roads at both towns and cut across country northwards towards
the coast seeing some delightful views of the Normandy countryside...
Eventually we arrived at our first commemorative site - Longues-sur-Mer -
meeting, as we approached, our first reminder of why we were here...
...and where Eric was due to meet the first of his group of friends...
Longues-sur-Mer is the site of one of Germany's massive artillery
batteries lining the Normandy coast and beyond, overlooking GOLD beach,
one of the designated British, French and Canadian landing beaches. The
defensive gun emplacements were massive and severely damaged in air
raids and naval bombardments leading up to the landings.
Just a piece of trivia from "The Longest Day"...the Bunker that was used in the movie to represent Major Werner Pluskat's look-out station...
...and the view he had when he first spotted the invasion fleet...
Sometimes it is impossible to differentiate between enthusiastic annual
participants, some of them highly organized and equipped groups, with
their cherished and carefully restored, maintained and preserved
equipment, and those who may be representing some genuine military
group, here for the official ceremonies; there are many, many such
photographs and uncertainties on this and the following pages:
Leaving Longues-sur-Mer, we continued westward along the coast for just a
few kilometers arriving at Colleville-sur-Mer - the main American
memorial site of OMAHA Beach, where we were greeted with this sign:-
We began walking through the grounds arriving at a point overlooking OMAHA Beach...
How many are lying here...? Tens?...Perhaps Hundreds? Thousands! There
are not enough tears in the whole world to do them sufficient honour!
From here we continued on to our last stop of the day - Pointe du Hoc -
along the coast westwards to roughly two-thirds of the way along OMAHA
Beach. Initially infantry of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the entire 5th
Ranger Battalion should have taken part but for various reasons some,
at least, of the 2nds landed further east on OMAHA Beach, rather than
Pointe du Hoc itself.
At the end of the two-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of
225+ was reduced to about 90 fighting men. The site is now under the
care of The United States American Battle Monuments Commission. The many
bomb-craters from the aerial bombardment leading up to the landings
have been left until today as they were at the end of the two days
fighting it took to secure the site.
In spite of the long daylight hours, we had to make camp and erect the
12-man tent Eric had recently purchased and still meet the rest of
Eric's friends at their camping place at a friend's farm some distance
away, so we made our way towards Le Cormoron camping park on UTAH Beach
just south of Ravenoville where we prepared our 5-star Hilton
Then, a hurried trip to the farm at Le Grand Chemin to meet Eric's friends in the setting sun:
Here endeth the first day!
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