June 1944 - D-Day.
We took a trip to the Normandy Beaches. Driving through the beautiful countryside and seeing the old buildings, I had to think of the time when the Germans had come into France and took it over. Can you imagine what families were thinking knowing there freedoms had been lost? They didn't have the liberty to even go to other towns.
Our driver was a French man from Normandy who now lives in Olympia, my town. His wife, Judy and his mother, Genevieve, went with us on this trip. Alain is very knowledgeable about the history of many things. He was also our Burgundy driver and had studied wines there.
His mother was 14 on D Day and lived near the beaches. Two very young German soldiers had occupied their home for about 3 years. Can you imagine that? She said they were very respectful to their family, but I'm sure it was hard to have an enemy taking over your country living in your home.
The day of the landing, her mother was out in the field milking her cow. And they heard planes overhead, bombings. It was very scary, but they also knew it was the Allied Forces. As we drove through these villages and saw their homes, it's something I thought about.
This is Gold Beach. It is one of the beaches the British landed at.
Driving through Normandy - lovely flowers along a wall.
Pointe du Hoc
This was a point between Omaha and Utah beaches where the Germans had bunkers. The Americans wanted to take these fortifications. The Germans had moved the guns away from this place the day before, so when they got there the guns were gone, but the fortifications were still here.
My girls went to the beach from the American cemetary. It was a long walk down.
Looking towards Utah beach.
The American cemetary. No one knows really how many casualties there were. The Americans had a few thousands. Many crosses with the name of the soldier, his division, him home state and his day of death. It's a very emotional place.
There is also listed on a wall at the memorial the soldiers that were missing and never found. That is also a very long list.
This is a church in one of the small villages. Most all the towns in France have a church as their center. What does that say about their life back when these towns were started?
We didn't take pictures of the homes or villages in Normandy. I think we were just thinking about the beaches. But Normandy is very beautiful, with it's dairy farms. So this was a quick shot when driving by at one point.
We also went to see the Bayeaux Tapestry, which takes us even farther back in history to the time of William the Conqueror. It is a hand done piece of embroidery telling the story of William becoming King of England. I thought it was a great way to tell a story, although in this day and age, an embroiderer could do it on their machine to put in a child's room - a Bible story perhaps?
We couldn't take pictures there, but here is a link to a site of pics.