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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Normandy 2011 - Day Six 31st March

Our mop up day started in Arromanches with a trip around the Mulberry Harbour museum. Sadly Roland was unable to negotiate down the 7€ entry fee which was a shame as this was probably the least interesting of all the museums we visited never quite living up to its promise. It did, however explain how the harbour was built and worked which was good to know.
One side of the room was filled with cabinets containing detailed 1:43 scale models of the various aspects of the Mulberry Harbour. This did a grand job of illustrating how it was built and functioned.
After a bite of lunch and yet more tramp wine, the tide was out far enough to allow us to walk out to examine the abandoned piers close up.

We were all surprised to see how much of Mulberry B still remains to this day. Up close these bits are really impressive!
Then on along the beach road towards Ouistreham.
Taken from the cliffs overlooking Arromanches, Juno Beach with Ouistreham and Sword Beach in the centre distance
At Ver-sur-Mer we deviated to go and see the Green Howards memorial statue at Crepon. Here we learnt the story of Company Sgt Major Stan Hollis who won the VC on D-Day. He was a real boys own hero in the Captain Hurricane mould and is now my new hero!!
The Green Howards Memorial in Crepon. Believed to be based on CSM Stan Hollis' likeness.
On our way back to the main road we stopped at the Mont Fleury battery. It was a machine gun armed pill box protecting the battery (that had been missed by the forward companies of the Green Howards) which Stan assaulted single handed armed just with his Sten Gun and No.36 Grenades!!
Two of the four bunkers of the Mont Fleury battery were unique in that they were unfinished. The inner and outer faced Walls were complete just awaiting the reinforced concrete to be poured in between.
Back on the main road we drove along Gold, Juno and Sword beaches until we found the Grand Bunker in Ouistreham.
This six storey observation bunker is crammed with German equipment and weapons. On D-Day it was bypassed by Royal Marines and the 50 man garrison finally surrendered after Royal Engineers blew in the armoured door on 9th June!
Outside there was an 88mm Anti-tank gun, a V1 flying bomb, various armoured vehicles and the landing craft used in film Saving Private Ryan!
The LCA restored for Saving Private Ryan.
Very good and well worth the 7€ entry fee even though Roland couldn't work his magic!
M7 Priest recovered from the seabed off Omaha Beach in 1982 together with a V1 Flying Bomb.
Back along the beaches we stopped at various points to admire bunkers and other defences until we reached Courseulles and stopped for a coffee and a look at a DD Sherman before going home for the final "Come Dine With Me".
Another genuine D-Day veteran a real DD (Duplex Drive) Amphibious Tank. Now part of a display on the seafront at Courseeulles close to where Gen Charles de Gaulle finally returned to French soil.

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