Sector 5 Normandy Beach Visit
On Wednesday 3rd August I travelled to Normandy, France, with 33 other Cadets and 4 Staff from Devon & Somerset Wing, Air Training Corps.
We caught the overnight Ferry and arrived in Caen early Thursday morning. We left our luggage and bags at our accommodation and went straight to ‘Deadman’s Corner’ to learn about the flights that took place on D-Day in order to drop the Parachutists in to Normandy. There was a Dakota simulator so we experienced what it might have been like for the troops. We then travelled to Utah beach to have a look at the vast scale of the beach and memorials.
I found Friday very interesting, we got up early to go to the German War Memorial, whilst here we saw how they paid respect to their deceased and we saw Michael Wittmann, a German Tank Commanders, grave. Next we went to Point Du Hoc where we saw the close up remains of the German bunkers and the gun positions which were astounding to see in person. We travelled from the blown up beaches to the immaculate American War Cemetery where we saw the difference between the German Cemetery and the American Cemetery, the German being very Gothic. Whilst here we saw the resting place of Theodore Roosevelt Jr’s grave and the Niland brothers’ graves; their story was used to base the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on and was very interesting to hear about. To finish the day, we went to St Mere Eglise where the 101st Airborne Division landed in an attempt to take over the crossroads which lead to the major places like Omaha beach and Carentan. My favourite part was hearing about the soldier that landed on the Church, was stuck hanging off the tower for two days, was shot through the foot and eventually captured by the Germans.
After Fridays Cemetery visits, we went to our own British Cemetery on Saturday morning to pay our respects to the fallen and lay a wreath as its imperative that we understand why so many gave their lives and that their deaths led to a greater cause. Although the Cemeteries were different, all buried in them died for the same reason and that was for their country, friends and family. We then travelled to Pegasus Bridge and the museum there where we saw the damage from the light infantry and how the environment was affected. After this visit we thought it fitting to lay a wreath at Lieutenant Den Brotheridge’s grave; he was the first allied soldier killed in combat on D-Day and formed part of the attack on Pegasus Bridge. We then went to the 360-degree cinema where we saw how Normandy had changed during and after the war. Following this we walked down to Arromanches and saw the remains of the floating harbour and looked around the local area. To finish the trip, we all went to the Longues-sur-Mer battery where we saw the anti-ship weaponry and an untouched bunker left during the war.
Cdt Sethi – 1064 (Honiton) Sqn