Arromanches

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Having spent our morning on Juno Beach and at the Juno Beach Centre, the afternoon found us on Gold Beach at Arromanches. It was here that British troops landed during D-Day, and it was here that the Allies constructed a makeshift Mulberry harbour, nicknamed Port Winston, that for six months after D-Day became the busiest port in the world. The artificial port was used to offload the troops, supplies, vehicles and equipment that sustained the Allied push into Europe during the summer of 1944, and it is still considered to be one of the greatest military achievements of all time.

Of course, little of the Mulberry harbour remains visible today. While recent explorations have revealed that much of the original construction remains more or less intact just 5 metres below the surface, (see more HERE), at high tide Sonya and I saw only a few of the remaining breakwaters off the beach at Arromanches.

Overlooking the Normandy coast at Arromanches. Notice the Mulberry breakwaters in the water to the right.

Overlooking the Normandy coast at Arromanches. Notice the Mulberry breakwaters in the water to the right.

The town of Arromanches itself was well prepared for our visit with several on-street displays of military equipment, lots of 70th anniversary D-Day memorabilia, plenty of restaurants and a 360° theatre featuring historical footage shot during the summer of 1944. The film “The Price Of Freedom” impressively mixes archived film from June 1944 with present day pictures and is presented on 9 screens in a circular theater. Of course, for me the audio/visual presentation was the highlight of the afternoon, but it was also lots of fun to see all the military equipment and to browse the shops.

The pictures which follow are from our Normandy Beaches Gallery. Click on any thumbnail below to see the caption and then view the gallery. The entire Normandy Beaches Gallery is available on the Photo Gallery menu.

 

Canada Remembers “The Few”

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The event included a parade of members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Air Cadets, as elderly veterans of the Second World War looked on to commemorate the RAF and RCAF’s “finest hour”.
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Displays included a replica Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, and interpreters in period costume were available to answer questions. The highlights of the afternoon for Lois and I were the fly-pasts by vintage Second World War aircraft including a Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, and Lancaster bomber and other Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, including the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Spectators wave as a Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire make a flypast over Parliament Hill as part of an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Spectators wave as a Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire make a flypast over Parliament Hill as part of an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

More than one hundred Canadians flew in the Battle of Britain between July and October 1940, the largest air battle of its time. Twenty-three Canadians lost their lives. Historians have described the Battle, which involved almost 3,000 allied aircrew, as the turning point of the Second World War.

Famously, Winston Churchill said of the airmen who won the battle…
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

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Can’t let the week pass without acknowledging the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. We need to remember our history, be thankful for our freedom, and acknowledge the sacrifice of our veterans, especially those from Canada.

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If Ottawa, Ontario, is an easy commute for you then consider attending the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain National Ceremony. Promising to be a stirring and highly visual event,  it will will take place on Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. on Parliament Hill and will feature fly-pasts by vintage Second World War aircraft and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, including the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the CF-18 Demonstration Team.

More information is available here.

D-Day Plus 70 Years

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July 14, 2014. D-Day plus 70 years, 1 month and 8 days.

Beginning with an early morning trip to the Canadian War Cemetery at Beny-Sur-Mer, our day in the Normandy landing zones included visits to:

  • Juno Beach at Beny-Sur-Mer, and Courseulles Sur-Mer,
  • Gold Beach, a British landing zone, at Arromanches,
  • the German coastal defence batteries at Longues-sur-Mer,
  • Ardenne Abbey, the scene of the cold-blooded murder of 20 Canadian soldiers by Nazi SS Panzer Division troops on June 7-8, 1944.

I will deal with each of these in separate posts

It was also just over a month after the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. The anniversary itself had been marked by commemorations and special events all along the Normandy coastline. World leaders had attended an international ceremony on Sword Beach on June 6. There hundreds of gathered veterans heard French president Francois Hollande remind the world that:

“The 6th June is not a day like others: it is not just the longest day or a day to remember the dead, but a day for the living to keep the promise written with the blood of the fighters, to be loyal to their sacrifice by building a world that is fairer and more human.”

CBC TV’s broadcast of the anniversary ceremonies are featured HERE. The video below is from Panzer Pictures and chronicles some of the events and celebrations held in Normandy in June 2014 from a tourist’s prospective. Much of it is raw and unedited. Enjoy!

Hosted by YouTube, there are three parts to this feature. Follow the prompts when the video concludes to see parts 2 and 3.