Nuuumannn's European Tour of 2019

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Oct 12, 2011
Well, folks, it's that time again; my lounge floor is covered in books, unpacked suitcases and bags, old ticket stubbs and dirty socks. I'm home after a mammoth European trip, which took in two official tours, four European capitals, more Sherman tanks and jeeps than you could shake a stick at, three invasion beaches and one She-Devil. The purpose of the trip was to go to the 75th anniversary of Overlord and the comemmorations associated with that important date at various associated sites in the Normandy region, but for fun I also threw in a tour of Great War battlefields on the Western front, something that I have always wanted to do. This tour was themed around the movements of the New Zealand Division from mid 1916, when the war weary men arrived in France from their evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula, until the very end of hostilities, when Kiwi troops captured the last city to be liberated of the war; the walled citadel of Le Quesnoy (pronounced Le KEN-waa) on 4th November in a sneaky manoeuvre that caught the Germans napping.

Anyhoo, whilst in Europe I wanted to visit some aviation museums and other historic sites that I had never been to before, so the trip was spent hopping between cities and means of transport every couple of days, and now I'm exhausted. So let's take a look.

My ride to Auckland International Airport and the lengthy 36 hour journey to Paris, about to touch down.

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The view from my Business Class suite aboard a fellow Etihad Airbus A380's top deck, awaiting departure from Abu Dhabi International. That's a big wing. Although airlines are finding the Big Bus expensive and unwieldy, from a passenger point of view, its spaciousness is unparalleled and kicks the Triple Seven and Dreamliner into touch.

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It's 4 June and our first destination of the Ian Allan D-Day 75 Tour was the excellent Musee de'L Air, although somewhat disappointingly the Pioneer and 14 - 18 gallery, occupying Le Bourget's historic arrivals terminal has been closed for years now, following a promised re-opening in time for the centenary of the beginning of the Great War in 2014, which didn't materialise, then it was delayed for the end of the Great War centenary in 2018. A year later and it's still Acces Interdit. Nevermind - the rest of the museum is still fantastic.

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With the Paris airshow only a couple of weeks after our visit, the outdoors access to the static aircraft was completely blocked and almost all of them had been removed, with the exception of these three; I guess the 747 and Ariane rockets are just too big to relocate. They are a staple of Paris airshow photographs, however.

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Created in 1942 as an arm of the Free French air force at the insistence of CDG himself, the Régiment de Chasse Normandie-Niémen fought campaigns in the Soviet Union, operating Russian aircraft and earning an enviable combat record. At Le Bourget the regiment's deeds are consolidated and comemmorated in a special hall, with this stunning weather worn Yak-3 as its centrepiece. The aircraft was the regiment's last.

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Inside the 1939 - 1945 hangar is this weary Fw 190 (or is it?) - it's actually a Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautiques du Centre (S.N.C.A.C) NC.900; one of 65 built in France out of surviving bits from Fw 190 A-5 to A-8 variants between 1945 and 1946, which makes it unique. It's German scheme is somewhat artificial and it would be nice to see it in its authentic French markings to honour its actual history. It does look in dire need of restoration; there's a tear in its rudder fabric and it's looking a little faded.

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By far my favourite aeroplane I saw; the Little She-Devil, a Dewoitine D.520. A handful to fly apparently, Eric 'Winkle' Brown called this aircraft a "nasty little brute" and "She-Devil" was how an unnamed French pilot referred to it in a telling quote. Looking at it's diminutive stance compared even to the Spitfire alongside, it looks nimble, almost dainty and not worthy of such harsh words; that it was adds to its charisma.

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Some 446 P-47 Thunderbolts went to the Free French Air Force in North Africa, with most of them seeing service after the end of WW2. This P-47D is in the markings of Groupe de Chasse II/5 Lafayette, with its distinctive unit badge under the cockpit. The last were replaced in 1950.

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Aaah Concorde. It's only natural that France's national aviation collection has two examples of the iconic airliner. This one is F-BTSD, the thirteenth production aircraft, which wore the Pepsi colours and reportedly cost the beverage company some 20 million dollars.

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Concorde 001. The first one built, F-WTSS first flew on 2 March 1969 and was retired in 1973. In that short period it made 397 flights covering 812 hours, of which 255 hours were at supersonic speeds.

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The Prototype Hall at le Bourget holds some of the most fantastic flying machines built, which reflect the post war era of experimentation and advance, such as this Nord 1500 Griffon dual turbojet/ramjet powered fighter. Capable of speeds in excess of Mach 2, three examples of the Griffon were built, but the idea was not proceded with owing to the realisation that simpler and cheaper aircraft, such as Dassault's Mirage could achieve similar performance with far less complexity.

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Speaking of the Mirage, that's the prototype in the foreground, originally called the Mystere Delta and first flying in 1955. Behind is the extraordinary Leduc 0.22 dual turbojet/ramjet fighter that suffered the same fate as the Griffon. First flying on 29 December 1956, the 0.22's cockpit was located in the engine intake shock cone and was encased entirely in clear plastic!

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A rocket powered experimental fighter, the three engined SNCASO SO.9000 Trident first flew on 2 March 1953 and achieved a top speed of Mach 1.5, but, like the ramjet fighters prevalent on French drawing boards, it was overtaken by less specialised airframe/powerplant combinations. This is the only survivor of two prototypes, the second of which crashed on the day of its first flight in September 1953.

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More Le Bourget to come.
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Thanks guys. More Le Bourget. The French Air Force hall has a circle of slightly less remarkable but no less interesting machines displayed in it. Clockwise from bottom left: F-84F, Dassault Ouragan, Mystere IV, F-100D, F-86D, Super Mystere and Mirage 2000 prototype. Simple but effective.

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Because some of the aircraft are elevated, you can get some good angles. F-100 and Mystere IV.

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The unassuming Dassault Ouragan is an important aircraft to the French as it was the first French built jet to receive production orders and service, and it saw export to India, El Salvador and Israel, with whom it went to war during the brief but epic Six Day War of 1967. Like the P-47, this one is wearing markings of the famous Lafayette Escadrille.

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Now we get to the weird stuff. This is Argentinian Raul Pateras Pescara's No.3 helicopter design, which he built in France in 1923. it looks clumsy but actually flew successfully. It differed from previous rotorcraft designs and those by subsequent pioneer Juan de la Cierva in that the rotor blades could be warped in flight to achieve changes in attitude and didn't rely on a forward mounted propeller for thrust.

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This little beastie was built after WW2 by Louis Breguet and was initially known as the G.IIE but was found to be underpowered, so was re-engined with a 450hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior and despite showing potential, it never entered prouction, so F-WFKC is a unique survivor. Suspended behind it is the Sud-Ouest SO-1110 Ariel II F-WFRQ, powered by a wee Turbomeca turbojet engine that ducted gas to the rotor tips and the tail section for directional control. The French like to complicate things...

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Something a little more conventional, a Piaseki HUP-2 Retriever, one of 15 operated by the Aeronavale.

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The small but brutish little Dewoitine D.530 Hispano engined fighter. Only seven were built and this one was used by Marcel Doret, the firm's test pilot to trial the Hispano 12Md engine.

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Junkers F.13. It's extraordinary to think that this aeroplane first flew in June 1919. it's no wonder that it became one of the biggest selling aeroplanes in the years immediately after the Great War. The silver engine to the left is a Daimler Benz DB 602 V-16 diesel engine developed for airships and used on the likes of LZ 129 Hindenburg and her sister LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II.

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And finally, the Breguet 19 GR Super Bidon 'Point d'Interrogation' that was flown from Paris to New York in 1930, among other things; it's list of achievements proudly displayed on its flanks.

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We'll return to Le Bourget later in the tour, but for now, it's goodbye to Paris for Normandie and the pretty valley town of Lisieux. Not surprisingly, accommodation in Normandie was at a premium at this time and the tour could only get us into this place, normally some 40 minutes from Caen, but during our trip it was taking us around two hours to get to our respective destinations. Nevertheless, Lisieux is a rather lovely place and it managed to survive most of the war bereft of attention from the Allies, but on the night of the 6th and 7th June 1944, Lisieux was heavilly bombed and around three quarters of the buildings in the town were reduced to rubble. With the notable exception of its cathedral, which survived, but has yet to be fully completed since then.

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Lisieux is of considerable significance to French Catholics as it's ornate and rather grand Basilique is the second most visited holy site in France, with the exception of Lourdes. Not fully completed until after WW2, the Basilique was used as shelter by Germans garrisoned there in August 1944 when the town came under siege by the British. Bearing this in mind, the British artillery were instructed to destroy the building, but with some heart, the commanding officer of the artillery refused to do this, citing the artistic and historic significance of the unfinished structure. The Basilique Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux was begun in 1929 and is named after Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin of Lisieux who was canonised as a saint in 1925. The building was completed in 1954. Apparently its interior is extraordinary, but we didn't get to go in as it had closed to the public by the time we got back from our trips round the region.

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Next, we head to Arromanches and see the remains of the Mulberry harbour.
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So, on to the first day of Overlord 75 and it's off to Arromanches-Les-Bains. We were originally meant to go to Caen today, but a certain bouffant haired president was at the Memorial du Caen, which mean't that no one else was allowed to go, so our plans changed. Nevertheless, Arromanches was a fascinating place to start the tour. On the way we drove past this memorial erected at Juno Beach.

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It was broody and overcast at Arromanches, which leant itself to atmospheric photography. It was also extremely crowded and the many souvenir shops in town did a roaring trade. Why was Arromanches important? It was the site of Mulberry B, the artificial harbour that was built to enable the mass supply of equipment to the advancing troops once they landed. Two harbours were planned; Mulberry A was erected at Omaha Beach just around the peninsula to the west of Arromanches, but a freak storm on the night of 17th June wrecked it, so it was disused and Port Winston, as Mulberry B became known remained the sole useable artificial harbour. Before the invasion it was realised that the Allies needed a port and the chances of capturing one so soon after the invasion were bleak, so the immediate solution, apparently dreamed up by Churchill himself was to build one and take it with the invasion fleet, so that's what they did.

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A huge engineering effort was set in train where massive concrete blocks called Phoenix caissons were built, to be towed to the harbour and sank and from there these would provide the seabed mounted breakwater to protect the ships inside. These were sunk a kilometre from the shore in a semi circle as the outer breakwater, with ship wrecks serving as links between them. The Phoenix caissons were large enough that facilities were erected on top of them, including anti-aircraft guns. Lengthy piers were designed to jut out into the harbour to enable ships to berth and unload their cargo. These were made of big metal flat pontoons, which were attached to enormous vertical columns that enabled the flats to be raised and lowered mechanically by diesel engines. There were floating causeways between them made of steel bridge sections that were anchored to the seabed by concrete floats called Beetles, which enabled the causeways to move with the rising and falling tides. The harbour was an astonishing feat of engineering erected rapidly in the days following the invasion. These are surviving Beetles, accessible on the sand bar at low tide. In the distance can be seen some Phoenix caissons from the outer breakwater.

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We had an organised visit to the Musee Du Debarquement, an interpretation centre, one of a number we were to visit with essentially the same displays full of essentially the same items as each other; this one housing information on the artificial harbour as a point of difference. This nicely presented M3 Half-track sits outside.

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A display focussing on the French cruiser Georges Leygues, one of the ships providing fire support during the invasion. A La Galissonière Class cruiser armed with nine 6-inch guns in three turrets, Georges Leygues bombarded targets around the Omaha and Gold beachheads, which included the area around Arromanches. One target of significance that was disabled was the gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer, armed with four 15.5cm guns located a mile to the west of Arromanches on the cliff top; Georges Leygues' guns scored multiple hits on the battery, eventually silencing it.

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Nicely made model of the floating jetties being towed by tug to the harbour at Arromanches behind the main invasion force on June 6th.

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A surviving steel span bridge link, which provided a causeway pier into the artificial harbour, located outside the museum at the boat ramp from where the pier began and jutted out into the harbour. A bulldozer sits apon it, awaiting its next assignment. These played an unsung but vital role in establishing the harbour at Arromanches; they were engaged in removing rocks and flattening the areas around where the Beetles were to be sunk, at low tide.

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This old Boy was signing autographs at the museum entrance and was happy to pose for photographs. I opted for a more candid image.

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Of considerable surprise to the assembled crowd was the arrival of several armoured vehicles in the town centre, including this Sherman DD. A smart idea found wanting in practise, the Duplex Drive, nicknamed the Donald Duck tank was a British attempt at building a swimming tank as one of what became known as 'Hobart's Funnies', specialised vehicles created in support of the invasion. It didn't work as well as had planned. The M4 Sherman was the most well known DD, but other tanks were also converted, such as the British Valentine.

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Patented by an American engineer, the skirt was inflated by compressed air and the tank's lower hull was sealed, but the extra physical size of the apparatus meant that fewer DDs could be carried aboard the LCTs, or Landing Craft, Tank, than conventional tanks. During the invasion, DDs were landed at all the beaches, with moderate success at Sword owing to the calmer water, but at Omaha, the 741st tank Battalion put 29 into the water too far from the shore and 27 of them sank. The DD was supposed to operate in waves of around a foot in height, which isn't much, but during the invasion, waves of six feet and more were encountered which didn't help the DDs at all. The business end of a Sherman DD.

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Arromanches from the hill to the east of the town centre. To the west can be seen Cap Manvieux; a mile in that direction is the Longues-sur-Mer battery, which the cruiser Georges Leygues silenced. Note the remaining Phoenix caissons forming the artificial harbour's outer breakwater.

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The water's edge at the boat ramp, where the steel span causeway jutted into the harbour from Arromanches is calm and a site of reflection 75 years later.

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Next, the Daks Over Normandy parachute drop.
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As I've reported elsewhere on this forum, the Daks Over Normandy parachute drop was subject to last minute relocations and delay, largely brought about by the presense of VIPs in the region, which could and perhaps should have been foreseen, nonetheless, that it happened at all seemed to be miraculous, as at one stage we were expecting there to be cancellations of the Daks departing Duxford. We arrived at the site after negotiating our way round road blocks guarded by less-than enthusiastic gendarmes, which we encountered everywhere in large numbers, who seemed to be utterly clueless as to where alternative routes were laid out as a result of the blockades they stood lazily by.

Originally the drop was to take place at Ranville, which is close to Pegasus Bridge north of Caen, but inexplicably and without explanation it was changed to Sannerville the day before, on the outskirts of Caen to the city's east. When we got there we realised that this was a widely anticipated event, over which no one seemed to have any control whatsoever. There were thousands of people milling about, many of whom had been there all day, which made access to the site very difficult. We parked the bus on a narrow road and walked to the drop zone. A Spitfire was already displaying and while we were on foot, the first aircraft arrived overhead to do parachute drops.

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Two RAF C-130s, a French Air Force Transall and CN-295, all of which circled over and dropped troopers a few times, before departing the area.

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As I've said elsewhere, photography was difficult owing to the overcast and alttude at which the aircraft flew, so some rework of the images was required as they just appeared as black silhouettes on my camera screen. We saw this guy in the UK last year during the RAF 100 celebrations.

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The weary looking Transall makes an appearance later in the tour.

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Traditional domed parachutes for effect.

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Around a half hour after the Hercs departed, DC-3s appeared, including this one, Drag 'Em Oot, which carried out a few overflights of the drop zone before doing some drops.

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In the meantime, I had met some Brits who were tracking the Daks through various social media feeds. They had explained that departure from DX was delayed and by 4pm, we still hadn't heard anything. Although the local council had anticipated the event, by placing gendarmes everywhere, they had not provided any facilities of any sort; toilet breaks were had by many people in nearby bushes and there was no food carts, which would have done a roaring trade. Luckily some, including myself had thought to bringing rations.

Having heard via the jungle drums that the Daks wouldn't be arriving overhead from around another three hours, some of us relocated back at the bus, bidding farewell to our Brit colleagues. In time, a group of us found a better vantage point and at around 7pm we took our spot and waited. A couple of light aircraft released some parachutists for relief before the main event.

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In time, we could see the Daks moving in a line toward Caen Carpiquet airport, where they joined the circuit and landed. I counted 14 of them. That didn't bode well. nevertheless, not long afterwards, more appeared and began their run-in.

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The mass drops were very impressive to witness.

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It was silent except for the drone of the Daks' beating engines overhead, but people began to clap as the troopers neared the ground. This is Legend Airways' DC-3 "Liberty".

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The Li-2 releasing troopers from its right hand door. It was great to see this aircraft.

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So, that was the first day. I've posted more Sannerville drop images in a separate thread. next is D-Day and a chance to visit an invasion beach.


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Excellent pics, and great narrative Grant.
Good to see the lads from the Parachute Regiment performing good exits, unlike some of the other jumpers - welcome to 'twists', and hard work kicking out of them !
nuuumannn said:
Junkers F.13. It's extraordinary to think that this aeroplane first flew in June 1919. it's no wonder that it became one of the biggest selling aeroplanes in the years immediately after the Great War. The silver engine to the left is a Daimler Benz DB 602 V-16 diesel engine developed for airships and used on the likes of LZ 129 Hindenburg and her sister LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II.

*doing his Arnold Schwarzenegger accent* "I call it zie Corrugator!"
Thanks Terry. Researching this stuff puts it into perspective more. On the 6th June, we went back to Arromanches-Les-Bains because of the comemmorations that were happening at the hilltop site, where before we arrived in the area, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and veterans had opened a new monument to D-Day, at Vers-sur-Mer. On the hill above Arromanches nearby there was the opportunity to watch a flying display, bands and all manner of things. And today, we were going to go to an invasion beach.

One thing I've noticed is that on each day we visited particular areas, the sites we saw and places we visited were inextricably linked to the storming of a particular beach on D-Day, as obvious as that sounds (it only just occurred to me last night!), and today (and the visit to Arromanches the day before) was about the story of Gold Beach, so, it was a bit of a blow to be told that the roads around the Arromanches region were closed to traffic; only one road in and out and it didn't go near the beach. That was disappointing, but I wasn't going to allow a few kilometres and some lethargic gendarmes ruin my chances of walking on an invasion beach on the day it mattered. On the way to Arromanches I spotted this Ford GPA 'Seep' from the bus window.

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To begin with, we started at the top of the hill above Arromanches, where, during the war the Germans had placed an observation post and radar battery, the remains of which are still visible. We went to the site to watch the Arromanches 360 circular cinema, and having done so, I'm so glad I didn't actually pay to see it! Oh wait, it was part of the tour... After the overcast of the day before, it was sunny with broken cloud today.

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There are several memorials at the top of the hill, which commands an excellent view over the entire area, including this section of steel span causeway used in the Mulberry harbour.

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This Sherman had been commissioned as a work of art; dunno if I'm convinced.

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This new sculpture garden was unveiled on the crest of the hill that day in the presence of veterans. It's officially titled the D-Day 75 Garden and is a collaboration between several notable organisations, including the Chelsea Flower Show, The Royal Engineers, the mayoralty of Arromanches (Arromanches' mayor is named Patric Jardin, as if that was mere coincidence!) and various businesses throwing in their assistance to aid its transport from the UK to its final location. I think it looks quite striking.

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Despite the festive atmosphere, my attentions were elsewhere. You remember that commanding view from the hilltop? That's the seaside town of Asnelles down there and to the left, stretching to the protruding peninsula is Gold Beach.

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On the one mile walk to Asnelles, I encountered many very cool period vehicles. Up close and personal with a patriotic DUKW.

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Oh look! A jeep! By the end of the tour translated to oh look... a jeep...

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On this day I saw about seven DUKWs in total. This one down on the beach, lifting its skirt and showing me the goods.

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This is a gun installation; a 50mm anti-tank gun (Pak 38) would have been installed in here as part of Rommell's Wiederstandnester plan (Resistance nests) of strengthening the Atlantic Wall fortifications with the installation of more localised defences at beach fronts and harbours. Note how the gun is designed to fire parallel to the beach front, with its concrete shelter facing the sea, to prevent its destruction from seaborne gunnery.

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The Big Daddy of beach front defensive positions right on the edge of the designated Gold Beach landing area. This is a bunker that housed an 88mm anti-tank gun and was, like the smaller gun installation intended to fire along the beach front; note the triangular buttress designed to provide a modicum of protection from naval artillery. I took this photograph with my back to the sea. A plaque on the front of the bunker records its role on D-Day: "The 88mm housed in this emplacement accounted for six British tanks and held up the advance from the beach until it was destroyed at a range of 300 yards by a 25 pounder S.P. gun of the Essex Yeomanry commanded by Sergeant R.E. Palmer MM."

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On to Gold Beach next.
This is the very edge of Jig Sector, Gold Beach, where the 2nd Devonshire and 1st Hampshire Regiments landed, commencing at 7:25am. Coming ashore were LCTs Nos 2025, 2026 and 2027 within metres of this spot. 75 years later, the beach at Le Hamel, Asnelles is a picture of serenity. I took this photo with my back to the previously mentioned 88mm gun emplacement; the tanks coming ashore from the LCTs were easy targets for the Germans.

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Storming the beaches 2019 style. DUKW rides were popular 75 years earlier, too, apparently.

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Looking towards the west from the edge of Gold Beach and the 88mm gun emplacement is plainly visible on the shore. In the distance, between the Canadian flag and the tower is the hill top overlooking Arromanches where I had walked from.

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As I stood on the shore contemplating the tranquil scene, these three US Army Chinooks flew over.

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Further along the beach, this is looking toward where the 47th Royal Marine Commandos came ashore. The rocky barricade at the water's edge wasn't there 75 years ago.

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This is the simple stone church Sainte-Côme-de-Fresné in the small hamlet of La Fontaine Saint-Côme on the rise to the west of Asnelles. On D-Day it was hit by naval gunfire and began to burn, but on arrival of the first wave of landing craft that morning, one determined soul braved the fire and began ringing the church bells. A plaque on the church wall comemmorates the occasion.

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Back on the scenic hilltop and I found the location of the plinth on which the Germans placed a Wurzburg FuMO 214 radar dish.

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The reason why we were there in the first place.

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Finally, a gathering of Indian motorcycles were started up and roared past as we were mingling with the vets.

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On the way back to Lisieux, we passed this at Douvres; in 1942 the Luftwaffe constructed a radar station inside a vast network of concrete bunkers protected by barbed wire and mine fields, which was codenamed 'Distelfink' (Goldfinch). Today the site has been reclaimed from nature and opened as a museum, although the Wurzburg-Riese radar dish is the only reinstalled item of equipment, the other radar units are long gone.

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By the end of the day I had hiked a fair few Ks and I soon realised that I was the only one in our group that had made the journey to Asnelles, which kind of surprised me a little. I would have thought that the lure of an invasion beach on the day that it was important would have been irresistable. Nevertheless, I felt jubilant that I had achieved something special (to me, anyway) that no one else among the 51 other tour guests on the bus had done.

Next, Daks Over Normandy not being 'over' Normandy.
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Thank you Geo. More to come. On the 7th June we were all very excited as it was airshow day and the opportunity for a flight on board a DC-3. The venue was Caen Carpiquet airport and when we got there I learned that my name had been left off the list of those who were getting a DC-3 flight. I was fuming. It was an admin error by the tour company. The Dutch Dakota Association had had seats booked out in advance for months before, so there was no chance at a seat at all. Not a very happy start to the day. Things got worse as the weather closed in and the flying programme was cancelled. So, the day was spent looking at Daks on the ground and watching a few commercial aircraft come and go - that is, apart from the joy flights. I was not happy.

Here are some images from that miserable day. C-47A-90-DL 43-15731 'Miss Montana'.

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A C-17 getting airborne provided some interest.

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C-47A-45DL 42-24133 N431HM.

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C-47A-60-DL 43-30647 'Virginia Ann'. This aircraft is both an Overlord and Market Garden veteran.

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Two Mustangs and a handful of harvards provided some dfference on the flight line.

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The C-17 returning.

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The Dutch Dakota Association's 'Prinses Amalia' awaits a load of passengers. I was supposed to be one of them. Drat.

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Li-2 18433209 HA-LIX 'Karman Todor'.

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C-47B-35-DK 44-77020 F-AZOX took off and never returned.

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C-47A-85-DL OY-BPB 'Gamle Dame', taxied over to get some fuel then returned to its parking slot. No flying for the Danes today.

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The DDA aircraft getting airporne for another joyflight. I was assured by those who went that it was a terrible expoerience.

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A mysterious looking 737 getting airborne. This is C-40B 02-0042 operated by the USAF, no less.

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By mid afternoon the wind and rain had driven a lot of people home since there was no flying and some of us opted to seek shelter in the airport terminal, which found itself inundated with airshow goers. This is from the viewing deck as the two Mustangs bade Carpiquet farewell.

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'That's All... Brother' thought, well, that was all, and decided to bugger off, too.

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What else could I say about the day? There were some guys who had come on the tour as photographers specifically to go to this event, that it was a washout was sorely disappointing for them. Still, nothing could have been done about the weather, but facilities were very poor and communication was non-existent. There were only eight portaloos to service what was, I reckon around five or more thousand people and only two food stands and neither of those served hot drinks! Coffee was running off the shelves in the terminal at a high rate by mid afternoon.

Although I had good reason to feel bad, I simply shrugged my shoulders and remembered where I was; thousands of miles away from home on the other side of the world, having spent the day getting some good photographs of these classic machines, some of them actual war veterans. On the bus on the way home, I spotted this memorial to Carpiquet airport. I've yet to find out its significance. The first aircraft, clearly a Bleriot type to land at the site, maybe?

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Tomorrow had to be a better day. Thankfully it was. Pegasus Bridge and another invasion beach next.

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