Written by Wesley Klehm
We began with breakfast, or at least what amounted to breakfast. It was a cup of yogurt, cold cuts, a croussant, and juice. During the meal, Madame Normandy asked us why we were visiting and then brought us a bunch of brochures for various things to see. It was great because we hadn’t planned the day yet. I picked the few that made sense geographicallly that I wanted to see and we headed off. Distances here are very deceptive, on the map it looked like we’d be driving for a while, but 30 minutes later, we arrived at the Great Bunker! This command bunker in Ouistreham was a look-out and command bunker for the surrounding area, which was the east edge of Sword beach during the landing. It also had lots of gear from the war and mannequins dressed as the soldiers would have been in the war.
The bunker had a large telescopic lens device which was used for rangefinding. This bunker would spot targets and pass the coordinates to artillery batteries. The bunker also had the landing craft that was restored and used for the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan.
We took lots of pictures of that and the Priest and Sherman and then moved on. We went for a walk down to the beach but there wasn’t much there. There was a big dune on the beach that probably was a something, but had been covered up, so we left.
We headed back down the road we came and shortly arrived at the Pegasus memorial museum. This was a bridge that some British glider paratroopers were tasked with taking control of the night of the landings. They were to hold it at all costs and succeeded. It actually had quite a bit of interesting information and items from the war. There guns, uniforms, letters, scale models of the battle, videos, and other interesting things. Outside they had a few artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, a Horsa glider like the one used in the attack, and the actual bridge itself. The bridge was replaced in 1994 to handle modern traffic, but in order to preserve the memorial of the battle, they moved the original bridge to a little park nearby.
Finally, we moved on to the Merville Artillery Battery. This battery would have been firing on Sword beach during the landings. It was silenced by British paratroopers the night before D-Day. They had a fully restored C-47, but the rest of the battery was kind of weird.
The bunkers weren’t being taken care of very well (two were fully flooded and impossible to enter), and the biggest bunker had a light and sound show in it. But, the show was not the best. It was to simulate what it would have been like during the night the British attacked. But it was not done quite right. In fact we both sort of felt it was disrespectful. The light show was really hokey and displayed weird wiremesh outlines of british soldiers on a canvas. The sound show by itself would have been great alone, it was loud and intense, but the lights part really detracted.
We finished off with a lovely dinner to celebrate Wesley’s birthday. He ordered something off the menu that we didn’t know what it was. The waitress asked if we knew, and we nodded. We knew it was sausage of some kind. We he received it though, Wesley made a face and started smelling the plate. It stank! It smelled like a pig farm in a quite literal sense. Evidently what Wesley ordered was pig intestine stuffed with cooked pig intestine. Nasty…nasty nasty nasty! Happy birthday to Wesley!
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