Friday, November 11, 2016 ('Room With a View of the Cathedral' AirBnB, Bayeux, France)

We had another early start to the day....deciding to get going and have breakfast a little later. We are starting off in Ste-Mere Eglise this morning. As soon as we arrived, we looked for a restaurant to have breakfast but were only successful in finding a small bar/coffee shop (that combination is common in France) and had a coffee and muffin (that was all there was to choose from on a tray). Today is Armistice Day in France, and like back home (Remembrance Day), is a public holiday.
Ste-Mere Eglise is about 15 miles north of Utah Beach and was the first village to be liberated by the Americans, due largely to its strategic location on the Cotentin Peninsula. The area around Ste-Mere Eglise was the centre of action for American paratroopers, whose objective was to land behind enemy lines in support of the Americans landing at Utah Beach. Steve remembers this from a WWII movie and thinks it was "The Longest Day".

It was around this village that many paratroopers, facing terrible weather and heavy antiaircraft fire, landed off-target and many landed in the town.  One American paratrooper tangled from the town's church steeple for two hours (a parachute has been reinstalled on the steeple where Private John Steele's became entrapped--though not in the correct corner). 
And though many paratroopers were killed in the first hours of the invasion, the Americans eventually overcame their poor start and managed to take the town (Steele survived his ordeal and the war). They played a critical role in the success of the Utah Beach landings by securing roads and bridges behind enemy lines.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

It was early on this holiday morning so not much was open yet...but we walked around the community and took a few pictures.

Le Normandy Restaurant...too bad it wasn't open when we were looks like it would have been a nice spot for breakfast...
Airborne wasn't open yet, so we'll have to by-pass this one. The museum's collection is dedicated to the daring aerial landings that were essential to the success of D-Day. During the invasion, in the Utah Beach sector alone, 23,000 men were dropped from planes (remarkably, only 197 died), along with 1,700 vehicles and 1,800 tons of supplies.
We finished our wandering around the town and then headed to our next destination...Utah Beach. More wonderful villages as we drove along the beautiful (narrow, windy) roads...
Leadership Monument
The World War II Foundation selected Major “Dick” Winters of Easy Company as a symbol of leadership. This monument honors the combat leadership of the American troops during Operation Overlord.
Located along the strategically important road between Utah Beach and Sainte Marie du Mont. The sculpture of Winters leads in the direction of the upcoming battles.

This monument is the last to have been inaugurated at Utah Beach, on June 6, 2012.

Our rental car...a Cetroen Cactus. I decided to put on another layer before walking to the beach.
The 90th Infantry Division Monument
The monument is constructed of granite from Flossenb├╝rg, a German concentration camp in Bavaria liberated by the Division near the end of the war : a symbolic bridge between D-Day and the last days of the war in Europe.
The Monument honors the perseverance of the men of the Division.
The Monument was initially dedicated in 1969 then again in 1987 after its renovation.
This structure is built on top of a bunker...

The 1st Engineer Special Brigade Monument
This monument was erected with the contributions of the men from the Brigade themselves. The monument reflects Caffey’s insistence that the Brigade must leave a permanent reminder of their work before departing Utah Beach.
The monument was initially inaugurated on November 11, 1944 by Colonel Caffey, the brigade’s commanding officer, then inaugurated “officially” together with the French authorities on June 6, 1945.

U.S. Navy Monument
Built by the Naval Order, the US Navy Monument is the only monument dedicated to the US Navy outside the United States. American sculptor Steven Spears created a monument with three powerful symbols: leadership, sailors, and combat units. The names of the American ships that took part in Operation Overlord are inscribed on the base so that visitors, and especially families of veterans and their children can touch the names of their fathers’ or grandfathers’ boats.
Facing the sea, the Monument was inaugurated on September 27, 2008
Beautiful Utah Beach...looking left...
...then right. Note: In both photos the waters edge is actually near the horizon. A very long way to run    under fire!

Then it was time to go through the Utah Beach Museum...
Monument of the 4th Infantry Division
This monument was built through donations, and is located in front of the Museum’s entrance.The Monument honors all the men of the 4th Infantry Division who fought in the Second World War.The monument was inaugurated on June 6, 1964 by General Bradley, commanding officer of the 1st U.S. Army at UTAH and OMAHA in 1944.

Although bulky and weighing up to 3 lbs. each, these boots were very warm. They were given to certain categories of soldiers, such as Sentinels on the Russian front. Their felt often consisted of human hair taken from the millions of Jews murdered in concentration camps.

This is the man that saved the town of Bayeux where we're staying...
"Winding the roads of the Normandy Coast, cyclist Guillaume Mercader puts his passion to use by spying on the German defenses for the Allies......One of his most important successes was informing the allies of the lack of German troops in Bayeux which prevented the city from being bombed."

Martin B-26 Marauder

Looks like a Guard Post...
Once we finished, we were happy to find the restaurant directly across from the museum open...lunch time!
The Roosevelt Cafe, named after the famous General who landed on Utah Beach in 1944, is built next to a former German bunker. The area around this part of the beach is called La Madeleine which is near the village of Sainte Marie Du Mont.
What is now the restaurant, used to be a hut that sheltered fisherman before World War 2. During the occupation and the fortification of the Normandy coastline, the bunker next to the house was used as a German telephone exchange. This stronghold was known as WN5 and formed part of the vast coastal defences; better known as the Atlantic Wall.
Following the D-day landings and the liberation of La Madeleine, the bunker was taken over by American forces and was used as the communications centre for the US Navy.
All these years after the war, this area is extremely popular with tourists. The cafe is in an ideal location just opposite the D-day museum and just a stones throw from the beach.

The walls behind Dianne are full of messages and signatures from WWII Veterans that fought here...very cool!

That's not a real soldier at the bar. Old radios and memorabilia cover every wall and ceiling.
We both had a "French Hot Dog"...European Wiener in a bun with lots of melted cheese, and we shared an order fries. It was excellent...the best lunch and great service!
Bunker behind the restaurant...
After lunch, we jumped in the car and hit the road again. There is a Remembrance Day Ceremony this afternoon at Juno Beach (the Canadian Beach) that we don't want to miss. More beautiful scenery as we drove toward the nearby town of Sainte Marie du Mont...

Danish Monument (the soldier)
This monument is voluntarily located a few hundred yards from Utah Beach, as it pays homage to the 800 Danish sailors who, although they did not land on the beaches, contributed greatly to the success of the D-Day landings. It is the only monument in France that honors the Danish contribution to the liberation of Europe.
The monument is situated on the D913, between Utah Beach and Sainte Marie du Mont.

Milestone 00 (the 'capsule' in front of the soldier)
This milestone marks the start of Liberty Road, commemorating the victorious route of the Allied forces from the beaches of Normandy to Bastogne in Belgium. Inaugurated in 1947, Liberty Road is the first monument in France to honor America’s role in the liberation of Europe.

We made it to Bernieres-sur-mer and the Juno Beach Canadian Memorial...

...and "Canada House"...The large, timber-framed house miraculously survived the bombardment of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, and in the aftermath of the war became a familiar landmark, rising in the smoky background of many black-and-white photos and newsreels of Canadian troops landing on the shore of this Normandy village.

You'll most likely see this house in any D Day film...

Names of those that died on this beach...

We arrived at Juno Beach Centre and had time to look around before the ceremony...
Names of the dead...

Looking towards the beach from a bunker...
From the other side looking back at Juno Beach Centre...
Looking south...
Looking north...
Again...look how far they had to run!

We had a quick look inside...
...but as people were starting to assemble outside in front of the building, we went out for the Canadian Remembrance Day Ceremony. Click on the link and check out the picture...can you see us?

It was nice to see that so many of the French locals, most of them younger came to pay tribute...

It was very moving being here on this day...

Speech from the town Mayor...
Canadians with the Student Guide program...
They read this poem from Canadian WWI surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Because his grandfather fought in WWII this young man described how much it meant for him to work here...

Canada declared war on Germany Sept. 10th 1939, 2 years before the USA did.
Canada's population then was only 11,267,000. Military deaths 45,300.  Deaths as % of 1939 population 0.38 (Currently our population is 36,286,378...less than California)
1939 USA population 131,028,00. Military deaths 407,300. Deaths as % of 1939 population 0.32
After the ceremony, everyone was invited inside the centre for a small reception...

We had passed the Canadian War Cemetery on the way to Bernieres-sur-mer and wanted to see we just had to figure out where it was. A beautiful church along the way...

We had actually given up when...low and behold...we found it!
Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery...

2,029 graves, 19 unknown...

Well...that had been another very full, busy day...with a lot of territory covered again! It was dark by the time we pulled into the BnB...time to relax in our room with a glass of wine for me and a beer for Steve (we had found a store yesterday and picked some up). It was lovely sitting on the couch with the lit up Cathedral across the street!

We went around the corner and down the street to Le Conquerant Bayeux...a cosy little pub.

On the way home, we decided to take a walk around the Cathedral and get some more pictures.

The Germans took over Bayeux in 1940 and was liberated on D Day plus one: June 7th. About the only casualty was a German lookout in the little rectangular stone house atop the near tower known as the watchman's home...

Beautiful! Opposite side from our BnB...

Ahhh...the end of another great day!


  1. I am reading a wonderful posting on this special day, December 7th.