WHEN WE ATTENDED THE D-DAY REMEMBRANCE SERVICE

 

In June 2018 we visited France for the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings, to pay tribute to all those brave soldiers who fought for our freedoms.

Our journey started at Arromanches, a small town just outside Bayeux. It is the perfect vantage point to view the famous Mulberry Harbours – these were portable temporary structures developed by the Allies to speed-up cargo offloading onto the beaches following the D-Day landings; an unbelievable feat of engineering, and still visible today. 

Arromanches is a lovely town with lots of good restaurants, cafes and a fantastic museum on the square. The local cinema was showing an international collection of archive footage telling the whole story of the 100-day Battle of Normandy, a sober reminder of why these remembrance services are so important.  At Pegasus Bridge, one of the first places liberated in the early hours of 6th June, we met more D-Day veterans, whilst visiting the nearby Café Gondree. The atmosphere was terrific, helped by people dressed in WWII uniforms, period vehicles and a fantastic 30-strong band, including 4 pipers. 

Following a visit to La Vallee holiday park - where we were staying - to check-in and grab a bite to eat, we returned to Pegasus bridge, listening to more bands, joining in the famous midnight toast to the veterans and fallen from 74 years ago; a night to remember, lots of stories and great memories. 

Following an early start, we met up with a family staying in another Al Fresco Holidays mobile home. Reginald, (pictured above) a 95-year-old WWII veteran, here to attend commemoration services held on this very poignant day. Reg, a lovely man, who served in the 1st Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry, known as the 43rd, was in Normandy in 1944 and has returned not just to pay his respects, but to lead the schoolchildren procession at Benouville, marking the D-Day landings. He was also presented with a commemorative teddy specially dressed in uniform. It was an honour and pleasure to meet Reg and his family. It was also an incredibly emotional experience to meet a man who has fought for country alongside so many other brave men.

Leaving Reg to attend his service, we returned to witness the parade cross Pegasus Bridge at 1.30pm before heading to the Bayeux War Cemetery, a sombre yet fitting resting place for over four thousand mainly British WWII causalities. 

In 2019, it will be a very special anniversary to mark the D-Day landings -75 years. We will hopefully be there to pay our respects and say thank you to all the people who died in both world wars. 

If you get the opportunity to go, don’t miss it. The holiday park at La Vallee is just a short drive from Houlgate, and Caen town is only 30mins away.

Despite the ugly history there are so many beautiful places to see around this area, all within an easy drive, that it worth exploring. The people we met were incredibly welcoming and the wine wasn’t too bad either.  As the locals would say, Santé Reg.