So it's been eighty years to the day since the allies stormed the beaches at Normandy and started to put an end to the Nazi occupation of Europe
I won't use this post to ask questions about the world we've created since then, those are for another day

Having had a grandfather who fought with the British army in Europe shortly after the D-Day landings, my wife and I decided to visit Normandy ten years ago, during the 70th anniversary celebrations

It was something else, to say the least. Seeing what we saw for that week was a once in a lifetime experience. The celebrations were huge and went on all down the Normandy coast and beyond. Quite unexpectedly, but because we were British, we were treated like kings by the local French population. It was obvious even so long after the event, how grateful they were / are to the people who liberated their country

Also unexpected, was the ferry trip from Portsmouth. Most of the veterans had left for France before we set off, but there were still a number of them travelling on the same boat as us. The boat was escorted out of the harbour by Royal Navy fire fighting ships, who saluted the veterans by pumpung large plumes of water into the air on either side of the ferry while escorting us out
There were also planes and a helicopter in the air


In addition to that, there were some navy boats docked and the crew lined up on the decks and saluted the vererans as we sailed past

On board, there was an old time trio of female singers doing your wartime favourites, and plenty of other festivities

In an unfortunate turn that I will regret until the day I die, once we got out into open water, I became incredibly seasick and had to go back to our cabin. For the record, I never get seasick, so for that reason, it pissed me off even more
While I was trying to get some sleep, Mrs Bucko went to the bar and ended up talking with a Spitfire display crew and an actual Normandy veteran with his family

On arrival in France, we had a short drive to our accommodation, but got hopelessly lost due to a one way system in the village. Fortunately Mrs Bucko remembered enough high school French to get help from a random hotel
During the week there was a firework display down the entire Normandy coast, an air drop of multiple parchutists, a parade of WWII military vehichles and many other things, much of which we couldn't fit in due to time or the need for tickets that we didn't have
The Normandy coast is not suitable for the volume of traffic that descended on it, and we spent most of one night sleeping in the car until the traffic had cleared after one event we attended. Fortunately we had thought ahead and put some pillows and blankets in the car, just in case

The bars were all celebrating and when the evening came, they had no issue with just closing off the road, getting out the tabels and chairs, and partying
The two guys in the picture below owned a bar just round the corner from where we were staying and they were the friendliest Frenchmen I've ever met

But the celebrations were not just about partying, there was also a lot of somber reflection. I don't think someone of my age can truly feel the awe of the D-Day landings until you've seen this

This was the American cemetary at Omaha beach; the crosses go on for as far as the eye can see

The six days we were there were unlike anything I've ever experienced. I wish we could be there again today, but circumstances would not allow it this time

And the trip took it's toll a little. My old Ford Probe made the trip from Lancashire to Portsmouth, made it up and down the Normandy coast numerous times, then got us about 100 miles from Portsmouth before it decided to give up on us
Getting home took two recovery trucks, four hours kip on a service station car park and the entire night. The sun had come up when we arrived home


The Jannie said...

The Jannie said...

Bucko said...