Second Day in Normandy: Arromanches-les-Bains, Mulberry Harbour, the British Normandy Memorial, visiting a French School, and Gold beach
Tuesday was another packed day. After a typical French breakfast and room tidying, we travelled to Arromanches. Here, the Allies had set up Mulberry Harbour, an installation they constructed quickly during and immediately following the D Day landings to enable the import of heavy materials, further troops and weaponry to support and aid the initial invasion forces. The concrete foundations they established are still evident in the sea today.
The 360 Cinema at Arromanches was extremely impactful, and gave moving testimony of those who witnessed the events of D Day, many of whom, of course, are no longer alive today.
We then travelled to the British Normandy Memorial, an expansive and powerfully commemorative focal point for paying respects to thousands of the British military who gave their lives in the D Day invasion.
After laying a wreath and saying the French version of the commemorative poem at the site, we boarded the coaches to Creully. Here, we ate lunch in the gardens of a chateau, along with children from a local French school. We then walked to the school and took part in activities with them.
We played a tag game of 'Poulet, Vipre, Renard' out in their field, drew around our hands and coloured them to make Friendship posters, and asked and answered questions (in English and French) as part of a Bingo game.
The French children continued to dazzle us with their command of English when they performed four plays for us of mostly familiar stories, such as "The Gingerbread Man" and "Jack and the Beanstalk". The hospitality was further extended with a French food tasting buffet of pear and apple juice, various apple-based cakes and puddings, and cinnamon rice pudding (Mrs Reid loved that!).
Having made some great friends during the afternoon and had a good feed, we headed away to the coast again, visiting Gold Beach, one of the sites that British forces landed on on June 6th, 1944. We heard the troubling story of a young soldier who could not swim and had to jump into the sea, wearing his weighty uniform, and bring a heavy bicycle to the shore with him. Starting to drown in the deep water, his life was saved by another soldier who held him up and, miraculously, he survived to carry out his duties. Sadly, so many others were not as lucky, 9,000 servicemen dying on the first day of the invasion across the Normandy coastline.
Later, we returned to dinner and then bed for 180 exhausted children and adults at the Chateau, knowing that the next day was an earlier wake-up.
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