Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Normandy D-Day Beaches

the beaches offered no cover at all
The area we have been travelling is called Normandy. When most people think of Normandy, they think of D-Day in 1944. When the Allied troops (US, Canadian and British - some Australian air force personnel served under the British) invaded Normandy to drive the Germans out of France. The D-Day beaches where it all happened are just north of Bayeux. We went to a number of beaches – Juno, Omaha and Pointe du Hoc.

Pont du Hoc

We watched a documentary on You Tube about the ‘real story’. At the museum we were told that they used amphibious tanks, but they forgot to mention that all but two of them sank as they had been tested in still water, not with waves. Many of the soldiers had been given a large breakfast and got seasick, so were in no condition to fight. When they opened the front of the boats to go on land, they were sitting targets, and many got shot. So those left had to do what they had been warned specifically not to do and that was to jump over the side. Many drowned as their equipment just dragged them to the bottom of the sea. Many of the grapple hooks the rangers used to scale the cliffs couldn’t be used as they got soaked with sea water on the trip over which made it impossible to shoot them up the cliff. I think telling us the truth would have enhanced what they actually did achieve against all those odds.

Shows where a bomb hit - the sheep are an experiment to see if they can keep the grass down
The cliffs at Pont du Hoc

We also watched the movie The Longest Day which apparently is a good depiction of the battles.

Lindsay outside one of the German bunkers

The Bayeux Tapestry museum houses the tapestry, a movie and some information that they learned from the tapestry, you are given an audio guide to explain the story. The ‘tapestry’ is actually embroidery and is about 70 metres long and is nine centuries old. It's amazing it hasn't fallen to pieces. Before it was put in the museum it used to be hung up around the church. It depicts the events that lead up to the 100 years war. The starring roles are that of William the Duke of Normandy and Harold Godwinson who became King of England during the story. King Edward promised the throne to William as he had no heir. But Harold took the throne. The battle of Hastings in 1066 is between these two to fight for the throne. Harold is killed, so William becomes King.

They think it was actually embroidered in England.

Part of the Bayeux Tapestry - before I was told off for taking photographs!
Our B&B in Bayeux was a beautiful 18C house that has been beautifully decorated. Our room was large with a modern bathroom with double sinks. Our host Pascal was very helpful and the breakfast was the best on our trip. Along with the normal French menagerie, he would bake a quiche or a plum pie. The location was perfect, just a stroll across the park and down one street and you were at the Cathedral and in town.

Typical of the towns we drove through along the coast

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