Thursday, 11 August 2011

Seeing the battlefields

Not in London, but in France.

Around a trip to a Baptism in Normandy, my parents and I visited the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, Pegasus Bridge and some of the D-Day beaches.

We went to Thiepval because in an idle bit of googling for Grandma's relatives after she died I turned up some information on one of her uncles. It was not news as such; we knew one of her uncles was killed in WWI, but this confirmed it was Uncle Mick and not Uncle Tom (as argued by her sister or was it Grandma, I can't remember.) Anyway, in my ignorance, I thought we would find one of those crosses with his name on it. Thiepval, though, is for the 72 000 British soldiers, killed July-September 1916, who have no known grave. Thanks to the person who put up a list of names of men who enlisted in North Clare, we were able to find his name on the memorial and the fact that he was awarded the Military Medal.

At Pegasus Bridge, we walked across the new bridge, visited the museum and were served our drinks in the cafe - the first house liberated on D-Day, by Mme Gondree, herself. Incidentally, the sign with Pegasus on it was put up on 26th June 1944, the day my father was born.

We stayed in the town behind Juno Beach (lots of Canadian monuments,) went to Arramanches to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour and then to Omaha Beach where the Americans have their memorial and cemetary containing the graves of 9 000 of their personnel. It's very beautiful, overlooking the sea and the Americans have an excellent museum. It was packed with people.

40 000 Allied Troops and 60 000 Germans died in the liberation of Normandy in addition to French civilian losses.

In between times, paramedic brother sent us texts about what he was up to - being ordered to wear his stab vest.... different times.


Gareth Hurley Blog said...

My uncle fell at or near the Merville Battery near Pegasus Bridge, fighting with the paras on 6th/7th June 1944.

Please say a prayer for Daniel "Roddy" Hurley. RIP.

leutgeb said...

Of course.