Saturday, August 25, 2012

Further reflections on Normandy

Just over a week after James and Abi's wedding, we returned from our trip to Houlgate last Saturday night at 11pm, pretty exhausted, but so pleased to have gone and accomplished what we did.
Once again, an audiobook featured strongly with so much driving, we will forever associate the Florida trip with 'True Grit' by Charles Portis. It is difficult to choose something with a good plot-line without it becoming too salacious or coarse in general. At the last minute I decided to go for 'D-Day', written and read by Stephen Ambrose.
Amongst the books at Pegasus Bridge
I feared it would be too difficult for Bo, but he managed to pick up snatches of it. It begins with the assault on Pegasus Bridge, and the all too brief part that Den Brotheridge played in it. We all got to stand at the place where he was fatally injured by a piece of bridge metal that became shrapnel, hitting his neck when an enemy bullet struck the bridge.
At the spot where Lt Brotheridge fell
Our visit to Point-le-Hoc was very poignant, with so many casualties simply being drowned or mown down before even setting foot on the beaches. Standing there made it obvious how naturally strong a defensive position it was, to which was added the prodigious 'Atlantic Wall' batteries.
At Pointe-le-Hoc
The rest of the photos are at
It was a challenging few days in many respects but everyone, Pads included, could enjoy the history. A particularly tough assignment was our visit to Le Grande Bunker museum.
Le Grande Bunker
This building has five floors and Pads, having struggled up to enjoy four of them, cut his losses and went back down. At least it was cool behind all that concrete! Pads was very patient, content to read or do his code-breakers while the boys let off steam in the pool. He did try and engage in a bit of horse-play with the smalls, but on one occasion this led to him falling flat on his back - much to everyone's consternation. We had not quite factored in how far the tent was from the toilet block, which presented it's own challenges. Overall though it was an excellent trip and added some significant history to our memories of France. It is four years since we were there (see photos) and the clipped journey back, with Pads howling 'my neck!', and the events that unfolded thereafter will not be forgotten anytime soon.

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