March 24-29, 2008
For part of our spring break from school this year, we decided to go to Normandy, France! We decided to focus on the D-Day invasion that took place there in 1944, especially since Curt's grandpa had been a part of that big day in history - two places we HAD to visit were the beaches he bombed from his B-17 on D-Day and the day before. We also decided to see a bit of earlier history and have a look at some things that went along with the Battle of Normandy from the year 1066 as well - William the Conqueror and all that stuff (although rain kept us from seeing his castle and the two abbeys he and his wife built - all in the city of Caen).
Strange fact provided by Amanda - D-Day actually stands for Day Day! The days leading up to the big day were called D-Day minus X (by those in the know!) and the days following the big day were called D-Day plus X. We visited the beaches of D-Day on D-Day + 23,306 and on D-Day + 23,307 (that's 63 years, 9 months, and 22 days/23 days after the fact - no we didn't calculate it, we used a website!). In French, the big day is called Jour J, which translates to D Day!
While we did practice our French speaking skills, it was certainly not required! Most of the signage was in English as well as French especially in the museums, the restaurant menus came in both, the people almost all spoke both languages. The area of France where the US Invasion Beaches are is still very rural with lots of open spaces and fields. Every town has at least one museum dedicated to the events surrounding D-Day and the battles that followed - all the people are very happy to see Americans. We did see several other Americans there while we visited - you could tell by the English they spoke!
Amanda will be doing a project related to some specific aspect of D-Day for her history class at school, so she paid very close attention to everything and has so many ideas on what she could focus that project on that we are not sure where she will go with it! Mulberry Harbor? Distraction tactics? Air support? Why that day and place? We'll have to wait and see what she decides - You can read her paper in January 2009!
FYI, Sonya and Amanda both took lots of pictures - a total of about 550 all together. You will not see that many here! Some photos I will give credit to the individual photographer for, but most will just be there and were taken by one of us.
Now for what you really want - here are our pictures and stories!
Caen Peace Memorial
Eglise St Pierre
Musee-Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie
Coast just North of Utah Beach
Pointe du Hoc
American Military Cemetery
Musee de Debarquement - Arromanches
Batterie allemande de Longues-sur-Mer
Courseulles-sur-Mer - Juno Beach
Pegasus Bridge and Memorial
Almost Time to Go Home
Pont de Normandie
That's all for our trip to Normandy, France. We hope you enjoyed seeing our pictures and hearing our stories!
Some favorites -
Museums: Pegasus Memorial, Musee de Debarquement Arromanches, the Airborne Museum in Ste-Mere-Eglise, and the Battle of Normandy Museum in Bayeux
Locations: Pointe du Hoc, Longues-sur-Mer German Battery, Mont-St-Michel, the Mulberry Harbour, Utah and Omaha Beaches, the American Cemetery