Sunday, 30 September -- The D-Day Beaches

We left LeHavre early, while there was still mist over the Seine and the rising sun shone in our eyes. This was our day at the Normandy landing beaches, 6 June 1944.
Our first stop was the Ranville
Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.  Seeing yet another vast array of white headstones and reading the names and ages of these young men brings a lump to the throat, and reading the personal inscriptions, chosen by family, at the bottom of each brought tears.

Perhaps worst are the ones that don't have a personal inscription or are of unknown soldiers.

Pegasus Bridge -- what a fascinating, heroic story! Gliders landing in the night of 5/6 June before the beach landings, to capture a couple of bridges. I don't think I ever saw "The Longest Day", but for sure I'll watch it now. Apparently it's a pretty accurate depiction of what happened here, with the exception of the place the piper occupied crossing the bridge. He was not at the front, but farther back.

The cafe that is the first building liberated still stands by the bridge and is full of memorabilia.
Beny-sur-Mer is an entirely Canadian cemetery, from whch you can see the ocean at Juno Beach. I left a cross and poppy on one of the graves with no personal inscription.

Some members of the group were able to find graves they were looking for, for themselves or friends with a connection to someone who died at Juno.
This area of France is the breadbasket, noted for cattle, horses, and crops. We saw all of them--so peaceful and productive.

We picnicked at Arromanches, overlooking Gold Beach. You can still see the remains of the temporary harbour that was built here in 1944, far out from shore. Our guide told us that the beaches were supposed to be named for fish -- gold, sword, and jelly. But "jelly" didn't have the right ring, so they called it "Juno".  Of course, the American beaches, farther west, are Utah and Omaha, named for places in the US.

Our last stop was Juno Beach at Courseulies-sur-Mer, where the Canadians landed on D-Day. There is a great museum/interpretation centre with information about Canada as well as the war and D-Day. It ends with a film of remembrance that brought many of us to tears.

Then, to pile emotion on emotion, we found that Maria Angelica is one of a number of refugees who've found homes in Canada, featured in the last room of the museum. She and Gabriela had known that her story formed part of a temporary display a number of years ago, but not that it had a permanent place in this museum. We told the staff that one of the people was there, and they were very pleased to meet her and take her photo with the display.

It was a long ride back to the ship, that had moved to Caudebec-en-Caux. We were too tired to even think about walking around the town, though it is said to be very picturesque and interesting.
It was Sally-Jo's birthday, so we enjoyed cake with our dinner.

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