Should really have posted this up earlier in the week but have been really busy in work so have been lazy most evenings
Last Wednesday, i set off from Tidworth with a group of work mates to travel to Caen to go see the all the Normandy beaches and some of the war graves. Stayed in a very dodgy place on the outskirts of Caen (which was a bit dull to go out in, we brits typically ended up in the Irish bar lmao )
So first day we set off first for Pegasus bridge, which im sure a lot of people will have heard of. This was where Major John Howard landed a trio of Gliders to take a stratigically important bridge in the early hours of june the 6th. This is picture just off to the side of the bridge where the gliders landed, the stones you see are the places the gliders actually came to rest.
Might be hard to make out due to all the people about but they got seriously close to the bridge without ever getting noticed by the Germans. Heres one of the gliders
The bridge that is there now isn't the actual bridge, they removed that and put it in the museum next to it. Here it is
When you walk past it you can see some of the bullet holes etc in it. This is the bridge that is there now, a big and wider vesion to take the traffic
Here a pic of the first building to be liberated by the Allies, cafe Gondree
Loads of War bits in there, pics etc of the Parachute guys that liberated it.
Next it was onto sword beach
Not sure on numbers etc that died here, the guide did tell us but i've forgotten
then we went to Juno beach, This where the canadians landed
This is a picture of the house that stood when they landed
That tablet you can see gives details about it, apparrantly 166 men died just getting to it form the beach, whic was less than a hundred yards long by there.
Then we went to Arromanches to see the mulbery harbours that the British built to bring thousands of men and supplies into France. The best pic i got was this sorry
You can't really get a idea of how big this dock was, the pictures in the museum showed it, and it was immense, some huge level of engineering needed to build it. We did go to Gold beach after that but i seem to have lost my pictures of that.
The next day we went to see the Meville battery, which the Germans used to shell some of the beaches and surrounding area, heres some of the guns
The sheer size of the bunkers is amazing, nearly 2 metre thick concrete. We then went to another battery near by, the name of which i forget, but the British Paratroopers took it some time after D-Day.
They were supposed to have 650 men to do it with, but when they landed and re-org'd they only had 150, against the German Garrison that was 120 men strong. They decided to go for it anyway, and had to attack them in close quarters, some even resorting to killing each other with shovels. whilst we were there they were getting ready to reinact the attack that evening, heres some guys pretending to be German,
Wouldn't want to have to come up against this
After i watched them for a while i decided to have a look around, saw this in one of the guns holes, the actually gun had gone it seemed and a german had scratched into the base of its support with his bayonet
Heres me looking rough by a American Jeep
A British service mans tent (We get better these days trust me)
A memorial to the Black watch who were massacred in a field near there
The it was the one that everyone remembers, Omaha beach. Was a bit nervous to be honest about going to the American Cemetrey because i'd heard so much about it. The place just knocked me for six though, i hardly said a word when i was in there, its truely unbeliveable to see them. Its also a very beautiful place, not a blade of grass too long, kept absolutely perfect. heres my pictures
Heres two of the beach itself, we couldn't get down to it unfortunately, i think the second one shows just how far the Americans had to get before they could even start to attack the Germans, as im stood at the top of the embankment where all the gun nests and mortars where located.
We then moved onto Utah beach, saw a few things restored from the attack
Then it was off to St Mere Eglise to see where the American Paratroopers fought. Heres a pic of the dummy placed where John Steel landed on the Church tower (if you've seen longest day you will know what im on about)
A Sherman tank in the museum
On the way back then we stopped at a German grave memorial, was strange, much smaller and less well maintained than Allies, which i did expect really, given what the Germans did. But in there we found the grave of Micheal Wittemann, who was a German tank commander. this man was apparantly a tactical genius and had a personal kill count of 144, mainly on the eastern front but some from the western too. Was found in a swallow grave apparantly, with the rest of his crew, contray to previous reports of how he was killed by the British.
i have to say was a really worthwile couple of days going over to see all this lot, reccommend it to any one thinking of going, i really do. Apologises for the size of the post too, and the lack of history figures etc, i've forgotten most of what the guide told us.
But these men fought for our freedom, that so many take for granted these days, long may we remember them.