Can’t believe it’s already a couple of weeks since returning from having been in Normandy, France for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
On that note, I want to make sure I start this post off with some ‘thank you-s’ to some wonderful people that by their friendship and support contributed to making the trip even more memorable: Beverley Cooper, Andrew Wright, Jane Barkey-Harney and Stephen Oldrid.
By the very nature of the event it was going to be busy and so finding vacant accommodation was clearly going to be challenging, so to be honest up until just a couple of months or so beforehand I kind of resigned myself to not making it over for the Anniversary week but was looking at going shortly afterwards. However, Beverley knew that where she was staying in Ranville did indeed have a spare room; and wow what a room and house it was!
Carole and Xavier who owned the home were the most delightful of hosts making us feel incredibly welcome, and were very encouraging with me trying out my French language on them too; something when younger I was pretty much fluent in so since returning have started studying again. Reason being that with the project I do intend to be spending more time in Normandy so would like to be able to converse more freely.
Being just up the road from Pegasus Bridge was wonderful. This is a place that I remember visiting some years ago with my Uncle Jeff (a Military Author and Historian) and was great to be back there again. Attending a memorial service at the Pegasus Museum was an honour and privilege.
On a return visit after the memorial services I took these pictures of Pegasus Bridge and of the remains of a HORSE Glider fuselage...
One thing I most definitely wanted to do, and did, was to be on Pegasus Bridge in the early morning of 6th June; 00:16hrs which is when the Gliders landed at the start of Operation Tonga to secure the Bridges. Lots of activity was going on with Military Bands playing but even so, just to be there at that precise time really did make you reflect on what it must have been like exactly 75 years ago.
Whilst at a memorial service at Ranville Cemetery on the 6th June my brother Greg (currently serving in the British Army) messaged me to ask if I could look for a the grave of Cpl William Alfred Albert Derry; a distant cousin who was killed in action on 9th June 1944.
So glad we found it...
My Grandad served with the British Army and was in Normandy during War Time (59th Div. 7th South Staffordshire Regiment) and after landing on Juno Beach 28th / 29th June, made his way through to Graye-sur-Mer and then to Cruelly.
On the beach, as with all over Normandy, you can’t help but reflect what it must have been like 75 years ago. So incredibly moving. So incredibly thought provoking.
Can’t wait to return.