A surprise for Martha
So our last day with Martha & Sam started off bright & early with a filling traditionally French breakfast at Tony & Jill’s. Leaving them in the sunshine, we headed off to Barrie’s & the Shed. What Martha didn’t know was there was a little surprise in store for her!
Initially, we were greeted by Barrie, Stuart & Steve (Barrie’s two sons & my friends from many, many years ago) & then out of the shed appeared M Gilbert RAIMBAULT (who Glyn & I had met last year). In 1944, Gilbert was the 9 year old son of the baker whose grain store was used to hold PoWs overnight & he recalled seeing Martha’s father – Raymond Elledge with Francis Gillespie, Morris Sheppard, Gerald Willen & John Harder – as they were the last set of prisoners that were held in the shed before the Germans moved out of the village in the face of the advancing Allied armies
Also present to help translations was our friend JeanMarc Lesueur as well as a number of people from the village fete committee.
Needless to say that there were lots of tears all around as Martha began to hear about her father’s time in Normandy as a captive & what life was like for French people during the Occupation. She was also amazed by the shed & actually seeing Raymond’s signature written on the wall of the shed.
Later, Sam (Martha’s husband) summed up the day…
Martha and I have been reflecting on our trip to the Shed and other parts of her father’s trip through Normandy! We can not begin to thank you enough for what you have done and what you have given us, especially her!
I saw a smile on her face, as they say in Texas, “bigger than Dallas” when she first saw her father’s name on the wall!
All the people that showed up was a bonus!
And Martha wrote to JeanMarc & me…
Hi Colin and JeanMarc,
Sam and I cannot truly express how grateful we are for all everyone has done to help us learn about Dad’s experiences. JeanMarc, I hope you will get a lot of reactions on your metal detector! It would be amazing if something was actually still there.
I was so appreciative of all the people that came to “the Shed” and so overwhelmed and somewhat at a loss of words. Please keep us posted on any new developments.
With heartfelt thanks,
So, almost, came to an end our time with Martha & Sam which had been absolutely fantastic & great that we’d found another couple of pieces to the puzzle.
So now it was time to head off as we needed to get them back to Caen to meet up with their friends for them to head off to their next destination of Rouen.
A quick spot of lunch in Villers Bocage, a bypass of Hill 112 with it’s iconic Churchill Tank & now statue & on into Caen. Unfortunately, the weather had turned heavily against us with high wind & heavy rain, so we chose not to stop on Hill 112.
By the time that we reached Can, however, the rain had gone & the sun was shining down, so, having waved Martha & Sam off, Glyn & I nipped out to La Case à Bières on the edge of town for a swift beer before heading off to our evening’s accommodation.
Whilst drinking, we had a call from Edward Robinson, the chap whom we’d tried to meet when visiting the airfield that Raymond Elledge had taken off from.
Battle of Val-ès-Dunes
So, heading off, we went even further back in history to the time of William, Duke of Normandy (he hadn’t become “The Conquerer” in 1047 when the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes took place to the southeast of Caen & commemorated by a monument & information board which explains that the monument is in the wrong place!
Then, continuing on our route, we stopped off at Condé-sur-Ifs as there’s not only a memorial to the liberation of the town by the 51st Highland Division & 4th Armoured Brigade, but also one of our other attractions… a Menhir!! This one is called “Pierre Cornue” & we found it without the usual kerfuffle that we have!
So, having had a look around, we headed off to the Chant du Loup brewery for our final night in France.
The next day saw us heading north in increasingly wet & windy conditions which made the high bridges just outside of Boulogne very interesting & Glyn got lost inside of a LeClerc building looking for gifts!
So, now to plan for 2016!