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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Normandy 2011 - Day Seven 1st April

Early start this morning as we are driving South to Bayeux. First stop the Bayeux CWGC Cemetery and the Memorial to the Missing.
Bayeaux CWGC Cemetery - 4,144 Allied Soldiers + 505 Germans
The largest British WW2 Cemetery in France, we took in Cpl. Stanley Bates VC's grave before marvelling at the largest collection of German burials we've ever seen within an allied cemetery.
Cpl. Sidney Bates VC - mortally wounded driving off a German attack single handed on 6th August 1944

One of many unidentified German soldiers in Bayeux Cemetery
Across the road the Memorial to the Missing listed 5 Hereford Regt. soldiers with no known graves amongst the others.
The enscription reads "Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus" which translates to "We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror's native land"
The missing of the Hereford Regiment amongst 1,800 names of those with no known grave.
Next door to the memorial was the Bayeux War Museum. In the grounds was a stone commemorating Robert Capa the photographer responsible for the dramatic action shots taken in the opening  moments on Omaha Beach.
Also in the grounds were a Churchill Crocodile (less its armoured trailer), an M10 Tank Destroyer, an M4 Sherman and a German Hetzer Tank Destroyer.
Churchill Crocodile Flame Thrower Tank
M4 Sherman
Rather tired looking Hetzer Tank Destroyer
Roland was back on form once more persuading 7 Scousers to join us as a "party" and getting the entry fee reduced from 7€ to 4.50€!!! This museum covered the entire Normandy campaign from D-Day to the German defeat at Falaise. Very good and well worth the visit.
Bayeux is a beautiful medieval town well worth the trip
Afterwards we take a walk around the town and have a Kebab for lunch before visiting the Bayeux Tapestry ..... Fascinating.
Some of the team - (left to right) Roland, James, Bruce & Dave
The temperature was now around 18'c so we spent the rest of the afternoon drinking Coffee and watching the world go by. Once we'd all finished we decided to venture out to Villers-Bocage about 15km south of Bayeux.
Wittmann's Troop of 4 serviceable Tiger I Tanks were harboured here unbeknown to the advance column of the CLY who had pulled up on the road behind the far trees on Hill 213. Wittmann took his tank and crashed through the hedge onto the road and began his rampage, whilst the remaining Tigers made themselves ready for combat.
Here we were able to retrace Michael Wittmann's famous attack on the 7th City of London Yeomanry (CLY) on Hill 213.
After Wittmann had shot up the HQ section of the CLY column, he charged down Hill 213 into the town of Villers-Bocage destroying any AFVs in his path. At the far side of the town he turned about and came back through, only to be knocked out by a 6pdr Anti-tank gun team he'd missed. He and his crew evaded capture and rejoined their unit only to die in combat in early August 1944.
Afterwards we stopped at the Jerusalem CWGC, which is Normandy's smallest cemetery with only 48 graves. The youngest soldier killed (Pte. Banks) aged only 16 is buried here.
Jerusalem CWGC Cemetery near Tilly-sur-Seulle
For our final meal we decide to dine out on the harbour front on Port en Bessin. Going to be an early start tomorrow to get back to Calais.

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