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Normandy 2012

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Dantheman
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Post  Gina_Costina Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:58 pm

Glen has a contact that sorts all that out. And strangely enough we came across nobody whilst out, only wild boar Wink

Monday 4th June
Early morning after our miss-drops walk, Tom Sainter, Dave Grover and I headed back to Hiesville. On the way we stopped off to pick up some supplies from the supermarket at Ste Mere Eglise, whilst in the car park we saw a Veteran. He was Ernest C Haden a combat vet of the 103rd infantry. Ernest is also the Author of,”Time out for war”. This is a fictional tale based on Ernest’s life; “One month after Matt and Linda are married, Matt Lowe is drafted into the Army to serve his country in the war that will define their generation: World War II. Matt joins the 103rd infantry division of General George Patton's 3rd army, and after extensive training in the swamps of Louisiana and the rolling hills of Texas, he is torn away from Linda and their newborn son to go fight on the European front as a combat medic. Matt's journey takes him through war-ravaged towns and cities, to the very heart of Hitler's Nazi Germany. The one thing that keeps him valiantly saving lives day in and day out is the love for his family and the hope he will soon go home to them... Time Out for War.

I got chatting to Ernest’s daughter Kathy and asked whereabouts in the US they were from. She replied “Southern California”. I enquired “Orange County?” and she replied, “Yes!” Now I have relatives in Orange County, who run a flower store in Anaheim. When I mentioned there name it turned out that Kathy knew them and did book-keeping for the family some 20 years ago. I couldn’t believe the incredible coincidence!

Naturally it was only right that Ernest was given another D Ration that I had, ready to hand!

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We left Ernest and his family, and headed back to Hiesville. After dropping Dave Grover off at the camp, to catch up on some rest. Tom and I retraced some of the route taken by the 4th Infantry on D-Day and the days thereafter. In the afternoon we had enough time to visit the museum on Utah Beach. I didn’t take a great amount of photographs and my honest opinion is that I though the museum was “Ok”, although nothing can ever compare to the fabulous collection of WW2 artefacts at Diekirch.

In the evening we had a time to share a glass of friendship, and enjoy some good food with Laurent Olivier and the Belgian friendly 101st. Also present was Jack Womer, which presented a good chance to listen to some of his stories,
He told us about the time he was on manoeuvres, Winston Churchill was visiting. Jack was ordered to hide, and so he hid in a Haystack. Winston Churchill decided to take a leak against the Haystack, right in front of Jack. Jack nick-named him “Crackers” after that!
Jack was asked by one of us, “Can you speak French? He replied,”You don’t need to speak any language when you carry a gun!”
I asked about his recollection of eating D Rations, he recalled one time on checking a supply chute that had landed and it was full of them, instead of the ammunition he was hoping for.
Having been in central London several times, I was keen to find out what his experiences of night-life in Piccadilly were. He told me that the one thing he recalled was that they had no eggs, yet in the West Country he could get hold of plenty of eggs! He couldn’t figure. Apparently one time in London, he went to buy some chocolate. He was told by the young girl that he needed some ration coupons. He didn’t have any and didn’t know he needed them. He then winked saying to me,”She gave me her (coupon ration) – She knew I would give her MY ration- you know what I mean!”

The evening presented a number of chances for photographs and to give Jack a copy of our group magazine “strictly GI44-45” which re seemed very interested in.

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Jack and his daughter catch up on the latest in “Strictly GI44-45”
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Later we headed back to the camp and enjoyed a relatively dry night, but of course before I hit the sack and took time to have a quick tipple of Calvados.
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The next day the plan was that Tom would meet up with Glen and gang for another night of being miss-dropped. Very appropriate as the next day was June 6th.

Dave joined us and we spent the day re-visiting some of the 4th Infantry areas.

Looking inland down causeway One from Utah beach
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Marmion Farm
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D-day museum Ste Mere Eglise with 101st Veteran Gene Cook from Pennsylvania, who we would meet up later in the week.
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A letter from Gene to the museum which I felt was worthy of recognition.
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Some nice armour!
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“Crashed” C47
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Whilst in Ste Mere we had a chance to meet up with Laurent in the town square. Also In the square Dave Grover spotted another celebrity, not a WW2 veteran but Alan Tomkins- maker of props for various Films including Bridge too Far and Band of brothers to name but a few. We had a long chat with him. Very interesting and very inspiring for me as I do like to make a prop or two!

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The town also had its usual presence of US service men and women. As we were dressed as MP’s it stirred up a few conversations and offers to buy us a beer or two. For some reason, dressed as an MP means people always asked to be arrested!!

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After enjoying some socialising we picked up some supplies of bread, cheese and calvados to drop off to Glen and the gang who were now housed in a barn at Grainville, somewhere north of us. The plan was for Tom to spend the night “miss-dropped”. I wasn’t intending to, and Dave was suffering from an injury so couldn’t.

We eventually found the guys hidden in a hayloft of a barn, tucked well out of the way in Grainville. I felt we looked rough after one night out; they clearly looked rougher after two days and nights!!

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After a time Dave left the guys and headed back to camp, after a quick detour into Ste Mere Eglise for some hot food and a bottle of Normandy Cider!

Part 5 to follow.






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Post  Guest Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:10 pm

If only GI 44-45's trip last year was this exciting... Here's looking very much forward to part 5 with bated breath!

Cheers,
Ben.

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Post  Gina_Costina Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:57 pm

Lo. I'm running out of enthusiasm to write any more, but the next bit should be the last. Got too many other chores on the go.

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Post  murph Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:51 am

Interesting reading and nice pics. Great to see that there are still some vets there.

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Post  Dantheman Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:57 am

Another good write up Paul, certainly an eventful trip!!!

How much more is to come? At this rate we'll be reading part 56 as we depart for Normandy 2013!!! lol!

Good stuff mate! Very Happy


Dan

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Post  Gina_Costina Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:48 pm

No the last bit should be the next bit. I then have to do the work to condense it all into the group mag!

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Post  Gina_Costina Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:58 pm

Last part.

In the early hours of the morning of June 6th, whilst I was tucked up in my sleeping bag, Glen, Eric, Jon Moore and Tom Sainter were making their way on the last leg of the miss-drops event.

This photo taken on the drop zone area south of Grainville, shows what the guys were up against. They made their way through some of the marsh land before then heading south alongside the tracks of the Cherbourg to Paris Railway.

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Later they were picked up and headed back to our camp at Hiesville. The next day it was an early start as we made our way to the first of a number of ceremonies that would attend throughout the day.

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The first had Eugene Cook in attendance, after the ceremony I got chatting to him and asked whereabouts he was from in the US, he replied Pennsylvania. Another odd coincidence the occurred, as I told him my GT GT Grandfather had enlisted in Co F, 111th Pennsylvania Volunteers in August 1863 at Norristown, PA. Eugene replied, “Norristown?!- I lived there for over 40 years!” With that common denominator becoming apparent, Eugene and I chatted for some time.

Later during the day we returned to the church at Hemevez, where we participated in a memorial to the troopers killed by the Germans, by this stage it had a great significance and meaning.
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In the evening we had a meal with the guys from the Belgian friendly 101st and then later, Tom, Jon, Manny and I made our way to spend some time at Utah beach, it being an appropriate ending to June 6th.

June 7th and time to head home. The weather was atrocious; the week had not seen very good weather at all. However not deterred we still had one last item on our agenda; a visit to the US Cemetery at Coleville Sur Mer. It made natural sense to seek out the graves of the solders we had learnt about, and as before, with previous visits finding some of the graves of those killed had special meaning. R.I.P-
- Pfc Daniel B. TILLMAN
- Pvt Robert G. WATSON
- Pvt Anthony J. HITZTALER
- Pvt Robert E. WERNER
- Pvt Delmar C. Mc ELHANEY
- Pvt Andrew W. KLING
- Pfc Elsworth M. HECK


Our time at the cemetery was very limited, on these trips it always seems that we are doing things right up until the last minute. It took over an hour to get back to Hiesville, and then set down our camp. The heavens opened just as we did so, it seemed the weather was having a joke at our expense.

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Time was really, really against up by this time, we had about and 1 ½ to get to Cherbourg. The only blessing was that the weather improved and we had clear roads with no traffic. By the skin of our teeth we managed to get to Cherbourg, suffered a diversion due to major roadworks in the town, but eventually rolled onto the ferry.

My blood pressure subsided slightly and we began our journey across the channel. I have to say I had a fantastic week. Great company, working alongside people from various living history groups, who all brought something different and meaningful to the event. The thing I like about these trips is that I am with like minded people, who want to soak up every experience and who don’t have attitudes of self importance. Yes, it was full on with something happening very day, but I think anything else would make it quite dull.

Next year, if a similar miss drops scenario takes place I’ll be keen to take part in all three nights and perhaps give the Carentan march a miss. Looking forward to it already.




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Post  Dantheman Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:24 pm

Excellent mate!

Hopefully i'll be in tow for 2013's trip!!!!!


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Post  murph Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:41 pm

I must admit to being tempted to make a return to Normandy next year.

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Post  MattP Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:56 pm

Yeah, I know that you guys did a sort of footsteps of the 4th last year if I'm not mistaken. I'm really interested in going solely to Utah Beach next year and doing an on foot tour of the fourths move inland from the beach.
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Post  Gina_Costina Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:07 pm

MattP wrote:Yeah, I know that you guys did a sort of footsteps of the 4th last year if I'm not mistaken. I'm really interested in going solely to Utah Beach next year and doing an on foot tour of the fourths move inland from the beach.

Well, its these type of visits and approach that give it all another perspective. Especially on foot!

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Post  Dantheman Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:13 pm

MattP wrote:Yeah, I know that you guys did a sort of footsteps of the 4th last year if I'm not mistaken. I'm really interested in going solely to Utah Beach next year and doing an on foot tour of the fourths move inland from the beach.

Matt, for the big 70th Anniversary in 2014 i think we as a group were talking about organising a trip focused on the 4th, re-tracing their route from Normandy to Paris (which isn't actually too far) with Jeeps etc. over a period of a week, 'living the dream' trying to follow their exact route as much as pos.

I know it might take a bit of planning and research but it would be great to have another guy on board if it comes off?

Dan.


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Post  MattP Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:17 pm

Might be difficult tbh to get two periods of leave so close to each other. I'm really taken as most of us were with the Operation Cobra 2AIE trip in July and seeing as the 70th anniversary is bound to be so well documented and packed thats why I thought of doing it next year. However its something to mull over and think about. Very Happy
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Post  Tom Sainter Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:38 pm

Nicely ended Paul. Thanks for putting in the time to write it up mate. It's a great write up as usual.

I prob won't be able to do next year tbh as I am all out of brownie points at home and I don't want to miss out on 2014 and 2015.

Regards
Tom
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Post  samharris45 Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:33 am

Good report Paul and a plesure to read the experiances.

Hope to make it on a trip like this next year, the experiances really make it worth while.
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Post  Pat Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:19 pm

Very nice report Sarge ! Hope to be in Normandy next year too, but taking part in night expeditions would be cheating, as I know the region ^^ !!

Cheers

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Post  murph Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:08 pm

Pat wrote:Very nice report Sarge ! Hope to be in Normandy next year too, but taking part in night expeditions would be cheating, as I know the region ^^ !!

Cheers

PX Pat


I disagree, that would make sound military sense to utilize local knowledge to obtain a tactical advantage!

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Post  samharris45 Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:16 am

murph wrote:
Pat wrote:Very nice report Sarge ! Hope to be in Normandy next year too, but taking part in night expeditions would be cheating, as I know the region ^^ !!

Cheers

PX Pat


I disagree, that would make sound military sense to utilize local knowledge to obtain a tactical advantage!

Always thinking ahead! I like it!
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