Normandy

In June 2005, I went on a weekend trip to Normandy. Unfortunately we were limited for time, and I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked, but it was still a great trip. I will definitely be going back there to explore the area more.

Pegasus Bridge was one of the first objectives captured by the Allies, due to either a superb piece of flying, or a stroke of luck. The bridge was later replaced to make the canal wider, but the old bridge was kept. It was restored in the last few years. It’s on the left here, with the new bridge on the right

Pegasus Bridge New Pegasus Bridge

These next two shots are where the gliders landed – pretty damn close to land a glider when your objective is the bridge in the background

Landing Spot Landing Spot

I’ll try to remember that then…

Warning Sign

Many British troops landed in gliders like these – absolutely crazy. Note how close the troops in the back are to the pilots, and the lack of any real controls. Brave men to get in these things

Glider Glider

Glider internal shot

The Americans did it in more style – parachute in from one of the toughest planes ever – the C47

C47

A Commonwealth cemetery. Although not involved in the Normandy operations in a big way, New Zealanders were still getting killed there

Commonwealth Cemetery

Fallen NZ Soldier

A different style at the German cemetery – note the plain stones, with the regular groups of crosses. Many of the German soldiers are unknown, and the inscriptions simply read “Zwei Deutsche Soldaten” – Two German Soldiers

German war cemetery

As immortalized in “The Longest Day” – the Church at St Marie Du Mont. I like the way they still have a dummy US paratrooper caught by his parachute on the steeple. Note also the tank – there is still a huge amount of military hardware around

St Marie du Mont Church Sherman Tank

60 years on, the land is still scarred – there must have been a massive bombardment here, where the Rangers came ashore. Note the height of the cliffs here

Scarred Land Cliffs

This is the American military cemetery, as seen at the start of “Saving Private Ryan.” Absolutely immaculately groomed, with perfect rows of simple white crosses – quite a moving experience

American cemetery American Cemetery

Wall of Dead

For a temporary harbour, parts of the Mulberry harbour have stood up suprisingly well. You would think they might have demolished all of it by now. Look at the beach now though, kids playing, people sunbathing. As Eisenhower said on the 20th anniversary

“It is a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows 20 years ago were fighting and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of our own. But to make sure that Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world”

Mulberry Harbour Remains