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EVNKEEL

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Posts posted by EVNKEEL

  1. On 4/24/2019 at 3:07 PM, tennisbeforewine said:

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Cherbourg, France

     

    What an amazing, moving, and emotional day we spent in the shadow of World War II, seeing and learning far more about D-Day than we had imagined.  Sabrina picked up the ten of us at 8:00 this morning and we kept moving all day.  We found out a few interesting bits of information.  The “D” in D-Day doesn’t stand for anything except the first letter in the word “Day.”  The reason the invasion was on June 6 was that it was a full moon, allowing movement the night before, and it was an incredibly low tide, allowing the incoming soldiers to see and avoid the mines and other exploding devices floating in the water.  

     

    Our first stop was at the Normandy American Cemetery, which you’ve no doubt seen in photos or in person.  It is just cross after cross after Star of David after cross, totaling over 9,000 of them.  There are ten sections, six of which are currently closed to foot traffic to prepare for the June 6 ceremonies to observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  If anyplace will bring lumps to your throat or tears to your eyes, this is the place.  When looking at the crosses, what really stands out is the ages of these young men, mostly between 17 and 23, with the youngest only 16 years old.  Many, of course, died on June 6, but more than half died in the days following as the fighting continued. 

     

    We also stopped at the German cemetery, where several thousand soldiers are buried.  Apparently the American families had the option of having their family members brought home or being buried in Normandy, but other countries didn’t allow that choice.  There are other cemeteries for English, Canadian, and other soldiers, including at least one woman who died in a war-related plane crash.  Although Americans are responsible for maintaining the cemetery, the land on which it exists is the property of France.

     

    Our next stop was at Omaha Beach, home of the greatest number of American fatalities during D-Day.  The landing craft began disgorging its soldiers at 6:30 AM, and while German emplacements high up the hills made getting across the beach a treacherous endeavor, the soldiers continued to move forward.  One company was able to move up a hillside and get behind the German bunkers, marking the beginning of the end of the German superiority and the beginning of the American takeover of the area.  

     

    Next we visited a place I’d never even heard of, but found was vitally important to the invasion.  It’s called Point du Hoc and it was the site of an Army Ranger takeover of a vital German outpost.  The Rangers had to climb hundred-foot cliffs, fight off German soldiers, look for 155-mm guns that weren’t where they were supposed to be, destroy them, and then defeat the enemy, an operation that took three days and reduced the 225 Rangers to 90.  It’s an amazing story of an operation that destroyed the enemy’s means of shooting big guns at both Utah and Omaha beaches.    

     

    Then it was time to visit Utah Beach, one which suffered far fewer casualties than Omaha.  We wandered the beach, learned about the railroad which the Allies set up on the beach, and then saw the actual railroad ties which lead one to the beach itself.  

     

    After a stop at a wonderful little boulangerie for lunch (always one of my favorite places anywhere in France), we continued to St. Mere Eglise, the lovely little stone-built town which is famous for the paratrooper who was suspended on the church steeple.  St Mere was the center of the paratrooper drop the night before the sea invasion, and many of those brave young men were shot before their feet hit the ground.  John Steele took a bullet to his foot before his parachute caught on the steeple.  Unlike my previous understand, and unlike the Red Buttons scene in the movie The Longest Day, Steele was pulled up by two German soldiers, taken to a POW camp, and he escaped three days later.  

     

    Then it was time to return to the ship, after a day which packed in more emotion and information that almost any tour we’ve ever taken.  If you ever have a chance to tour these beaches with a knowledgeable guide, don’t pass it up. 

     

    P. S.  I've included a photo of the itinerary presented yesterday  by Orlando Ashford of the 2021 itinerary.  It looks great to us!

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    Thank you for allowing  us to travel along with you through your mesmerizing posts. We’ll be in Cherbourg next year, (4/30/2020 ms Nieuw Statendam) and would like to know the company you used - Sabrina sounds like a wonderful guide.  There is keen interest on our 2020 roll call and a, willing to take the lead in organizing a tour.  Thanks in advance for any other pointers you can offer.  My email is chaomt1@gmIl.com

    and my name is Maria  (cruise critic EVNKEEL).  

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