Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Normandy 2: Jour J

Normandy is famous for two landings: the one the Normans did on us around 1066, and the events of June 1944.

We did a little D-Day tourism on our way from the ferry to the gîte, stopping for lunch in Sainte-Mère-Église and visiting the Musée Airborne. There are two major exhibits at the museum, a Waco glider and a C-47 transport plane, and lots of cases containing the kind of ephemera I always enjoy looking at, from soap and chocolate to condoms.

Everything in Sainte-Mère-Église seems to be named after the Liberation and its heroes; apparently nothing exciting has happened there since the war ended (we had lunch at the C-47 Café).

Later in the week we visited the Mémorial de Montormel, commemorating the incredibly bloody battle of the Falaise Pocket. It's a peaceful, verdant landscape now (and also the home of our Bike Normandy friends and their Bernese mountain dog; we dropped in afterwards for a coffee and a Calvados).

After watching the story of the battle in coloured lights on a relief map (which made it much easier to understand), we stood overlooking the countryside where it all happened as a guide explained it to us. His English was excellent and he brought life, enthusiasm and humour to his tale - we learned that one problem facing the warriors was falling apples, which jammed the turrets and guns on the tanks.

Howard asked whether the panorama we were seeing looked the same as it had in 1944. Exactly the same, came the answer, except back then there were a few more apple trees.

Wherever you go in Normandy, the events of the Second World War are never far from the surface. Wandering the pretty, mediaeval streets of Bernay, we passed a plaque commemorating a citizen mort pour la France who was beaten to death by Nazi collaborators.
Tags: france, hols, planes

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