Normandy (Part 2): D-Day Beaches, Mont St Michel

After the airshow, we drove to the Omaha beach.  I knew so little about the D-Day.  The brave and courageous beginning to the end of WWII.  The beaches were   beautiful.  So CLEAN.  Memorials were built in honour of the Allied forces.  Weather was lovely.  It was very hard to imagine the scene of the Normandy landings on this gorgeous beach.

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Memorial in honour of the soldiers of the Allied Forces

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We had our dinner for 10 euros – 2 big sausaage hot dogs + french frieds + local cider

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A picnic is organized on these beaches every year on the same day in celebration of the Normandy landings

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These french fries were SO GOOD!!!! Reminded me of JR’s french fries!!!
So much better than the frozen ones in Belgium.
You could see they were fresh potatoes and twice deep fried…yumm

A photographer had done a project on the veterans over the span of 10-15 years by returning to Normandy for the celebrations.  There were pictures of veterans THEN and NOW with a few words from each of the veteran.  You couldn’t help but feel teary seeing the picture of a young man in uniform next one taken recently.
To imagine what it was like on that day is impossible for a normal being.  The sad reality is that there is still war.

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Two brothers lie buried side by side at the Canadian cemetry near Reviers, 1994.
Their epitaph reads: “We left with a jest, our home in the west,
now here with the best, we lie at rest”

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”I was a very young man and I believed in God, but as I laid there
under the cover of the sea wall watching those boats
full of men being butchered by other human beings I thought…
my God how is this possible?”

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I particularly liked this image of the veterans with a GERMAN veteran kneeling in the middle.
It was a strong reminder how every soldier was often just a very young kid following orders.
”Around 5 am I was awaked and came out of my bunker.  I saw thousands of ships just off the shore
in front of us.  My heart sunk to my feet” . 

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To feel you are being sacrified is a very bad feeling.  You feel you are going to die,
you just don’t know when it is going to happen or in what direction or in what way.
Am I going to be blow apart instantly?
Am I going to be knocked down by a bullet or shrapnel and slowly bleed to death?
All sorts of thoughts cross your mind.
You’re seeing it and being reminded of those things just about every second.
We just don’t have control over thinking these things.  “

You know how in movies there is always someone playing music during a crisis…well it was real.
This man was on the boat and his sole job was to play the bagpipes.  Right in the line of action.
He returned to Normandy at some point to play at one of the memorial celebrations.

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“I was so relieved of getting off that boat after all night being violently sick.
My kilt floated to the surface and the shock of the freezing cold water
knocked all feelings of sickness from me and I felt great.
I struck up the Pipes and paddled through the surf playing Highland Laddle,
and Lord Lovat turned round and looked at me and gestured approvingly”

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“We were low on ammo, so my first sergeant Owens who had replaced our dead officers,
sent me across the road to ask for instruction from Lt. Dollan as to staying put or pulling back.
The reply was quick: We stay!!  There’s no better place to die!!”

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We entered a little exhibition of figures of WW II and there was a REAL American veteran there!
He was chatting in french with the french tourists, and mostly making jokes.

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Pointe du Hoc, a prominent headland situated between Utah and Omaha, was assigned to two hundred men of 2nd Ranger Battalion, an elite special unit.
Their task was to scale the 30-metre (98 ft) cliffs with grappling hooks, ropes, and ladders to destroy the coastal gun battery located at the top.
Out of 250 men, only 90 survived.

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A remains of a canon

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It was hard to imagine…
250 highly trained men climbing up the 30 metres cliff while KNOWING that the german quarters were right on top.
these were elite specially trained units.  And then overcoming those barbed wires, all the while under attack.

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The bunkers.  V little dark spaces

Afterwards, we drove the beautiful highways, towards Mont St Michel, and were soon greeted by this beautiful sight…

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This was past 10 o’clock at night! Was so glad we got to see the sunset/night view.

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Twice a month during high tide, this little island cannot be accessed at certain times
as it becomes completely surrounded by water.

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SIMPLY MAGICAL.

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Our beautiful vietnam style bed and breakfast run by a French-born vietnamese!

Ah, we did SO MUCH in 1 day. we FELT so much!!!
I sank into bed thinking of the the marvel of the church, the stunning airshow!,
to the beauty of nature in the beaches,
the sad and amazingly courageous veteran stories,
to the magic of this 1000 year old abbey.
It was very late, I felt so blessed and fortunate.
And like all times when I’m happiest, I also missed everyone at home.
But fatigue came over my body as I lay with Tom and fell into an unusually deep sleep.

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2 comments

  1. Leena

    Mont San Michel is simply wow. Like real life historic laputa. So jealous

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