Tank shells to vases
It had rained quite a lot overnight and was still raining when we woke up, so we decided that we weren’t in a hurry. The farm where we were staying had some interesting vases full of flowers, however, somewhat unusually, they were two 90 millimetre shell brass casings. The owner had been told that they were of German origin but at the base of the shells there was a mark showing “90mm” and, to my knowledge, it was only the Allies that used 90mm guns, either in their latter Sherman tanks or their M10 tank destroyers (used by both Commonwealth forces and the American Army). In addition, I don’t think that the German army used brass for their shell casings.
After breakfast, as it was still raining, we headed off to meet Nigel Hay of “Milweb” fame to pick up the tin of tank paint for Albert Figg to help repaint the tank on top of Hill 112.
Looking for Vampyrs with Milweb’s Nigel
Having put the paint in the car, Nigel took us on a local tour to see some wartime relics in the area. First stop was the remnants of the “Vampyr” radar station which was used by the Germans This was a well hidden emplacement with “normal” looking buildings, half buried in the land; it’s only when you’re close up that you realise that there’s something unusual about them. Interestingly, the water tank for the base is still in use by the French farmers! Nigel gave us a quiz to see if we could spot any anything unusual… we clearly missed it and couldn’t see the German barbed wire stanchion that was right in front of us!
Moving on from the vampire radar station we went into a local village where there was a P47 Thunderbolt engine that had been dug out of the ground by the local French people and put in a showcase with information about the pilot (who baled out). We then drove back to Nigel’s house passing on the way a monument to an aircraft crew that had crashed while delivering supplies to local resistance fighters.
Shoeboxes and beer
We then went over to Barrie’s for a brief chat and then up to Caen to the Premiere Classe hotel that we were staying at as we did last year when it seemed ok. However, this year, given that we’d already stayed on two wonderful farms and in a chateau and were about to head off to Tony and Jill’s next, it seemed like they were just in little shoe boxes! Hey ho.
Anyway, staying here allowed us to visit La Casse a Bieres – where locally produced beer is available both in bottle and draught and, of course, there’s the Caen Trois Brasseurs brewpub at the rear of the hotel… tough life, really!