There and back

24th November

The early morning riser in the team was out and about getting shots of the remains of the ‘Mulberry’ harbour at Arromanches.  This one was named Port Winstone.  The remains were a number of caissons stranded on the beach, and an arch of concrete barriers that had formed the original breakwater at the seaward side of the Mulberry.

caissons 2 Caisson on the beach sands at low tide

caissonsShot taken from the side showing that there are three of these broached against each other

caissons off arranche A shot of the concrete breakwater

pier 2 This is one of the pier sections.  This would have been mounted across the caissons to form the roadway from shore to the ships.

pier Looking along the pier section

It was action in reverse this morning, as we reversed our track from the previous day to head back towards Utah Beach to visit the US Military Grave site.  This site covers contains over 9,000 graves.  The site itself is very impressive, as you first arrive through manicured lawns (not a weed in site), perfectly trimmed trees and shrubs, dignified…… until we reached the entrance, when in typical over-the-top American way, you have to empty pockets, remove jackets/cardigans/scarves, and go through metal detectors and scanners.  More security here at a cemetery of all places, than we have encountered at any airport or border on our travels.    Anyway, on through the building which is a museum of sorts complete with sight and sound show through to the cemetery itself.  Quiet and solemn is how best to describe it.

American 1Row upon row

trnaquilityQuiet reflective pool in front of the monument

panels 2Panel showing European operations displayed on one side of the monument

statuePeace symbol sculpture in the middle of the monument

panel 3Operation Overlord and subsequent days panel on the other side of the monument

overlooking OmahaQuiet walkway and contemplative seating below the cemetery, between it and Omaha beach at the base.

As we were leaving the cemetery, it seemed fitting that out of the dark, rain filled clouds, burst an air force jet completing a flyover. The noise sent shivers down your spine, one could only imagine what it would have been  like on D Day 66 years ago.

From there it was back to Arromanches as we wanted to go to a 360 degree cinema which  shows a film dedicated to the D Day landings and subsequent fighting but is interspersed with scenes from today.  It was extremely well done and very different from anything else we had seen.  From there we had great views over the beach and what remains of the Mulberry harbour.

On the road between the American Cemetery and Arromanches we spotted a number of these bath/pond like structures beside the road.  They were at random intervals and are an going puzzle, anyone that knows what they are please let us know.

foot bath

From there it was on to Bernaville and Granville which is where the Pegasus Museum is located. We arrived at the current Pegasus bridge and  had to wait in the long line of traffic whilst the bridge was lowered.  Pegasus Bridge was one of the strategic points that was to be captured by British Paratroopers and troops landed in Horsa gliders.   They were to destroy crossings of the Orne river but capture and preserve the crossing now known as Pegasus Bridge.

The exhibition was on of the best seen with a lot of models, a short film including some of the participants, and much supporting material. The movie, which showed the planning, execution and aftermath of the capture of the bridge, was very well done, but extremely moving especially towards the end of the movie there was a shot of old soldiers at the British cemetery and showed a memorial cross of one of their fellow Paratroopers who was only 16 years old!  It brought it home.  One interesting aside was that the film The Longest Day featured the capture of the bridge and that two of the major participants in the action in 1944 played themselves in the film as well as giving direction as to accuracy of events.

the originalThe original bridge is now mounted outside the museum.

meccano 1Inside the museum is a detailed meccano model of the bridge

modelDetail of the rotating end that lifts the bridge.

meccano 2end on view

HorsaOne of the original Horsa gliders outside the museum

model horsaModel showing Horsa gliders

ranvilleModel of the Ranville bridge which was one of those to be destroyed.

the new pegasusFinally we drove away from the museum over the new bridge.

After that visit we set Heidi to take us to Bayeux.  Although this was again heading back in the direction we had come from.  We were quickly into Bayeux, and found a bus parking spot just a short walk to the museum which houses the Tapestry.  It was off to see the tapestry.  We were given an audio guides to help explain the story and pictures of this 70metres long, 11th Century comic strip.  It was really very, very, good and very well done.

norman boatNorman boat outside the Bayeux Tapestry museum.  And yes it does look like a Viking ship and this is no coincidence.

waterwheelWorking waterwheel seen in the middle of Bayeux close to the Tapestry site.

From there it was off to see if we could find the parking spot for the night, which was not too difficult.  Another parking area right in the centre of town, just along from the Cathedral.  We had just parked along from a couple of other vans, when a van turned up behind us.  It was a couple from the UK.  We said hello and soon got chatting.  Then it was time for a bite to eat, so we invited Lyn and Neil to join us after dinner for a drink and a chat.   They duly joined us, bringing with them some yummy dessert offerings for Bernice’s birthday.  It was great chatting with them, and it turns out that they have also done something similar to us, as in selling everything or packing it away and living in their campervan.  They have been living in theirs for over a year now in the UK and are now travelling through France and on to Spain and Portugal. We hope that they get the opportunity to visit NZ sometime soon as we will keep in touch.

Tomorrow its Paris!

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5 Responses to “There and back”

  1. ike Says:

    Goodness, the Tapestry must have shrunk since we saw it 5 years ago. It used to be 70 metres long – not 70 feet!

  2. James Says:

    “Typical over-the-top American way”?? I am protesting this slight to the American military, who I believe will be instructing the President to expel the entire NZ diplomatic corps from Washington in protest.

  3. Bernice vannini Says:

    Hahahah…go for it! I hope that they have to go through the same security screening process.

  4. D-Day | The Vannini's Manoeuvres Says:

    […] Beach, Utah beach, Sword, Gold and Juno Beaches, Arromanches, Bayeux, Caen, Benouville, Grenville Pegasus and the many cemeteries. I can vividly recall the eerie silence and the overwhelming emotions, and […]

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