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Normandy, February 2007

Normandy, February 2007 |

Cam and I left Victoria on the Friday night with a small group of antipodeans headed for Portsmouth and the overnight ferry to Caen.

We departed for Bayeux and a visit of the Bayeux Tapestry first thing on Saturday morning. Although visiting a tapestry was not the top of my Normandy priority list, I have to admit to being very impressed with the ancient (1070ish), lengthy (70m x 50cm), embroidered linen commemorating the Battle of Hastings (William the Conqueror’s invasion of England) in 1066: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayeux_Tapestry.

We then left for the Commonwealth Memorial at Bayeux. Naturally it was an incredible sight to see row upon row of 5,000 white gravestones in militarily regimented lines. The Latin inscription on the memorial recalls how, in 1944, the British came to free the homeland of their victors of 1066 – something I now understood after my recent history lesson on William the Conqueror. Although I think it is a little disrespectful to take pictures of gravestones, I have put a few photos of the memorials we visited to try and demonstrate the sacrifice that so many made.

After the Commonwealth Memorial we visited the German memorial containing 22,000 German casualties of the War.

The American Memorial at Omaha Beach would be our final memorial visit. Immaculate in presentation and overpowering in presence, it silently overlooks Omaha Beach. The impressive memorial ranks amongst the most amazing sights I have ever seen – in the pristinely manicured 70 hectare cemetery the 10,000 perfectly aligned crosses could easily be mistaken for 100,000.

We then made our way to Arromanches – Gold Beach – and the location of remnants of the Mulberry Harbour (Port Winston). It was amazing to see the Phoenix breakwaters still there after 60 years (their intended life being only 6 months). The models on display at the local museum illustrated how impressive (and vital) the temporary harbour had been in supplying the allied advance in 1944: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulberry_Harbour

We spent the night in Caen – sampling snail and exploring the ramparts of Caen Castle. Sunday would prove a more typical day of sightseeing: Rouen, its cathedral, and the site where Joan of Arc was burnt; and the picturesque port of Honfleur.

Locations Visited: London, Caen, Bayeux, Vierville, Arromanches, Caen, Rouen, Honfleur, Caen, London

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