Sword and Juno Beach – Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

This morning we had a nice walk along the canal with the dogs. We had hoped to find the pathway directly from the site to the cycle / footpath running behind. However, the gate we found was very clearly locked and the path very overgrown. So we did the long walk round via the road with the rabbits out sunning themselves in the fields to torment poor Lola.

Once we got onto the footpath and alongside the woods behind the campsite we realised why they had probably bolted the gate. There was what looked like quite an established encampment of what I can only assume were immigrants in the woods. We did not see anyone. There were several tents stretched out across the area and I would guess there were quite a few people living there. It was all pretty neat and tidy though. We had seen a few groups of young guys heading that way yesterday but they looked well turned out and certainly not like they were living in the woods. I can only guess that they are fairly well established and have perhaps got some work locally. You really can’t blame anyone for wanting to improve their lot in life and they are certainly having to earn it. I guess it is similar to the economic migrations to Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand etc in the past for some. For others who knows what they have escaped from. Alongside the constant reminders of war and its impacts, the plight of these guys is pretty sad. Although we did see a dozen cans of water and a huge pile of logs on the side of the canal, I guess left for them, so hopefully someone is helping. At least it is not just removing their tents every few days as I gather is happening in Calais now.

We went back to the van and had breakfast. during this apparently routine exercise, Kev’s iPad which I had balanced on the seat back whilst charging due to a slightly inconvenient plug socket, fell down the back of the seat. One panel removed and replaced later 😳😩🤭 iPad was restored 😮‍💨

Anyway after all that excitement we were on our way to Sword Beach. One of the two British controlled beach assaults on D Day. The assault on Sword beach had started at 03:00 on 6th June 1944 with aerial and naval bombardment. At 07:25, the 18th Hussars; they were followed closely by the 8th Infantry Brigade, and by Royal Engineers were landed. These included the “Hobart’s funnies”, specially modified amphibious vehicles to support the attack against the artillery fire from the ridge. At the road side by Sword beach is a Churchill tank with specially modified main gun with a petard mortar, nicknamed the flying dustbin designed to attack the concrete bunkers.

We walked down to Sword beach, which was full of people enjoying the heat wave. Families enjoying the sun. It feels a little surreal to think what happened here almost 78 years ago to the day. However, I guess this is some of the freedom which was fought for. There are innumerable museums and monuments nearby these beaches, but it seems the beaches themselves have reverted to the happy sunshine use of any beach.

We tried to get into the Aire at Lion-sur-Met but it was full. So we headed onwards to Courseulles-sur-Mer. We just managed to get one of the last 2 spaces and headed into town for lunch. Kevin had been promising himself Moules Frites and Cidre since we reached Normandy and this was yet to be delivered.

In town we visited Juno beach. Even more of a social hub and sunshine hang out than Sword beach being in the middle of the town. Monuments stand by, but life goes on. Another Hobart funny was displayed here. This was an M3 Sherman with a duplex drive which would have been fitted with large skirts and propellers to float onto the beach. Some of which made it ashore, others did not due to the swell. Next we found Chez Suzanne where the planned fabulous seafood fest with cidre was enjoyed.

After a short sit with the dogs on the shade on the park behind our parking. This afternoon was very much dedicated to the Premiership Rugby final, Leicester Tigers v Saracens. Very much feel like Leicester deserve the win after a great season led by Steve Borthwick. However, Sarries have a point to prove after a season in the Championship. We will see….

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