And so it came to pass, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Thirteen, that our heroes did decide that the time had come to once again embark on their quest to quaff ales and wines from far and near, to eat food that they were not sure of and to boldly go where…
Ok, ok, that’s enough of that… it’s time for our Normandy tour 2013!
This year, parts are less organised than usual (yes, that is possible!), whilst others are more formal as will become clear.
So, what’s on the agenda for this year…
Well, our Heroes are starting close to home (probably) & taking advantage of the fact that the weather looks like being good & so will be visiting (by public transport!!) some of the well-loved breweries in the heart of the UK – The Black Country – where Colin & Glyn come from. So, hopefully, it will be “Hello” to Ma Pardoe’s , The Bull and Bladder (The Vine – home of Batham’s beers & a
Shakespeare quote outside – see, we can do culture!!) & others… unless we change our minds, of course!
Moving nearer to France, we’re travelling down & staying overnight in Folkestone… The Grand Hotel is our abode for the night (with our shared like of Deep Purple – the group, not the colour), staying in such an aptly named hotel appealed… ok, it might not be Montreux, but hey, it’ll be interesting!
Sees us heading over (or rather under the Channel) & then on down to overnight in Rouen. Last year, we came across the Brasserie Du Chant du Loup & enjoyed staying there & drinking Patrick’s beer so much that we decided that we’d have to return… we might even take a look around Rouen. Mind you, after last year’s almost-fiasco, we’ll be making sure that we have plenty of fuel for the car!!
Today we’ll be taking a further look around Rouen (especially if we didn’t do as much on Monday) before travelling over to Normandy & Caen in particular to Les Trois Brasseurs – a brew pub that we almost didn’t find two years ago! We’re staying close by, this time, so our navigation had better be at a higher level this time as sleeping in the car doesn’t appeal!! And before any of you comment on the further inclusion of beer into this trip, I should point out that it’s a tough job doing this, trying all these beers… but someone’s got to do it, so it might as well be us!
Today sees a planned cranking up of activity WW2-wise when we’ll be re-visiting part of the EPSOM battlefield & then meeting up with a Veteran of the fighting – Albert Figg – & seeing how his plan to have a tree-lined approach to the Churchill tank & viewing platform on Hill 112 is going; we’ll then be having lunch with Albert & his daughter, together with our friend Nigel Hay of www.milweb.co.uk fame in the same bistro as last year – hopefully up to the same standard!
The afternoon will see us taking in more of the battlefield, before moving on to Tony & Jill Stansfield’s wonderful B&B near Estry
The 69th Anniversary of the D-Day landings will see us busy around the BLUECOAT area of operations (late July/Early August 1944) with visits to Hill 226 (where tanks of 3rd Battalion Scots Guards, part of 6th Guards Tank Brigade) were badly mauled by Jagdpanthers of Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654. We’re also hoping to meet up with Peter & Eain Findlay and visit the museum at Tilly sur Seulles run by Stephabe Jacquet. Following this, we’ll be joining in with the locals at the ceremony of Remembrance at St Charles de Percy Commonwealth War Cemetery
Today has been scoped out really well… in other words, at the moment,m we have no idea what we’ll be doing! Eventually, we need to make our way up to UTAH Beach as we are staying with Eain & Peter for a few days. So hopefully, we’ll be able to “bag” another museum, as the UTAH Beach one is within walking distance.
Airplane spotting today… or rather looking for the holes in the ground that they make when they hit! We’re pretty sure that we’ve located the place that Major Raymond P Elledge brought his P47 down, but this year we’re going to have a bit more of a dig in the undergrowth to see if we can find anything else to support our ideas.
More airplane spotting – this time to see if we can locate the place where Francis Gillespie’s P47 hit the ground. From his MACR report, we kow that it was South-East of Lessay, near the hamlet of Le Bocage, so hopefully there might be someone in the area that could perhaps give us a clue…
Hopefully, the weather will be good today as we’re taking Veteran Bill Sullivan (505th PIR,82nd Airborne) & his wife, Elizabeth, around some of the places that he & Morris Sheppard visited whilst evading from the Germans having been captured on D-Day & then escaped. We met Bill & Elizabeth last year & promised that this year, we’d do the “tour”. Bill had already provided some photos of the places from his vivit in the mid-1990s to Jim Sheppard (Morris’s son), who’d forwarded them on to me & we were then able to identify the places & meet some of the families of some of the French people that helped them. So looking forward to some nice reunions. We have a planned itinerary, ‘though of course, it’s a well-known military maxim that no plan survives initial contact with the enemy! So we’ll see what happens to ours!
A long day travelling in prospect as we leave Peter & Eain at UTAH Beach & travel most of the way back through France to stay over at St Omer. We stayed there last year & Glyn managed to find the brewery! I didn’t, so it’s only fair that we return!
And so it’s back home to the UK, hopefully with lots of images, memories & suntan… we shall see, I suspect that the first two are a given… the other takes additional work, I suspect!
… of course, these are just the plans… the reality could be quite different… check out the daily links (or the detailed blob to find out what really happened & how well we stick to our plans!!