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Published: January 1st 2020
"Hope is not a prediction of the future . It is a declaration of what is possible" - Yogi Bhajan
Apt is it not for where we are today? We have continued along the Liberation Roads and found ourselves passing through villages such as Sainte Marie du Mont he first village to be liberated after the invasion force landed at Utah Beach . The 101st Airborne Division liberated the village in the early hours of June 6th 1944. The first of many such liberations. We are following a route connected with the Band of Brothers.
Our plan was to park up on a massive car park before going to the museum associated with the part the Americans played in WW2.
Gabby parking was easy. Large parking areas alongside the road and almost empty. It was the usual story . The museum had closed yesterday for the holiday and would not open again until Boxing Day. The museum is built almost on the beach where the American troops landed. It would hve told us the story of the landings from the preparations for the landing to the final outcome and success. A journey supposedly would take
us through the history with the collection of objects, vehicles , materials and oral histories. We could see the B26 bomber one of only 6 still in existence and watch films "Victory in the Sand" which told the story of the battle for the beach. By visiting we were safeguarding the site for future generations. It all sounded good but we were seeing none of it.
Luckily though there were still things to see outside . We donned our jackets again , wrapped up warmly against the wind and set off to see the monuments scattered around the site .
The monuments had been erected along the roadside and the first we saw was the one that commemorated Major Dick Winters of Easty Company. It was supposed to represent a symbol of leadership. A soldier pointing towards the battle .It lay on the road between the beach and the town of Sainte Marie Du Mont.
Walking on we came to our second monument - this time a memorial to the landing on the beaches in the landing crafts. Two had been used . One the British Landing Craft Assault and the second the American version the American
Landing Craft Vehicle. It was hard to believe that the Americans used over 1000 of these vehicles as part of the D Day landings . A storyboard told us about the developer Andrew Jackson Higgins who built it at Higgins Industries in New Orleans. The boat held 36 troops and was capable of travelling at 12 knots and outfitted with a pair of Browning M1919 machine guns . It was crewed by only four personnel . The memorial comprised of the boat and the soldiers running off it into battle.
Because the museum was closed we had the place almost to ourselves. Which is always a nice thing. It gives us chance to look at things carefully and take our time over our visit.
Walking from the landing craft we came to our next monument - a rather brightly coloured one . A little out of place being so bright . It was commemorating the First Engineer Special Brigade . This was erected through contributions from the men themselves . They wanted to leave a reminder of their work before they left Utah Beach. It was bright blue . A splash of colour in an otherwise grey
landscape. We walked over the dunes to view the beach where it all happened . How the soldiers managed to claim that beach defeated us. No cover. Nowhere to hide . It must have been easy to pick off the soldiers who could find no shelter . The blue monument had been raised through the contributions of the men from the Brigade themselves. The monument reflects Caffey’s insistence that the Brigade must leave a permanent reminder of their work before departing Utah Beach.
We walked slowly taking it all in and arrived in front of a stone monument inscribed with red. Another blaze of colour . This one was constructed from granite from Flossenburg a German concentration camp in Bavaria which was liberated by the division near the end of the war. They called the monument a bridge between the D Day landings and the last days of the war in Europe. So many monuments . We actually missed a few of them. Each one telling a story about sacrifice and duty. Would the young today fight like this ? We have often pondered that question without any answer. The soldiers were brave . There is no doubt about
that . As we stood before a statue which showed a sailor and a soldier the enormity of the job in hand was hard to comprehend. This was probably one of the most interesting . I guess everyone who come to see the site would have their favourite monument . The one to the Naval forces was my favourite and the one I would remember as epitomising the site . It was built by naval order and is called the US Navy monument. It was designed by American sculptor Steven Spears who created three really powerful figures . Bulky and strong they symbolised leadership , the sailors and the combat units . The names of the American ships that took part in Operation Overlord are inscribed around the base .
The final monuments if you want to call them by that name are the milestones along the road . They mark the start of Liberty Road . One stands in the museum grounds . The others painted yellow are all along the roads in this part of the coast . They show the victory route of the forces from the beaches of Normandy to Bastoigne in Belgium .
I dont feel wrong in saying that each site has delivered everything we wanted from a Winter holiday . There must have been a lot of hope at the start of the D Day campaign and it was also that declaration of what was possible .
We need to find a spot for Christmas Day. Somewhere near to a town for a walk in on Christmas morning. Somewhere near water . Like Alan Sugars search for his next business partner we are still searching for our perfect Christmas Day stop over . We have in mind the tiny town of Port en Bessin du Huppain which has a massive aire where we can stay for a modest cost . It is just a short walk to the port and should do us for the day. A place to open presents and drink that Calvados .
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