WHEN AL FRESCO HOLIDAYS ATTENDED THE D-DAY REMEMBRANCE SERVICE
In June 2018 we visited France for the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings to pay tribute to all those brave soldiers who fought for our freedoms.
Our journey started at Arromanches, a small town just outside Bayeux. It's the perfect vantage point to view the famous Mulberry Harbours – these were portable temporary structures developed by the Allies to speed-up cargo offloading onto the beaches following the D-Day landings; an unbelievable feat of engineering, and still visible today.
REFLECTION AND RECOGNITION IN HONOUR OF D-DAY HEROES
Arromanches is a lovely town with lots of good restaurants, cafes and a fantastic museum on the square. The local cinema was showing an international collection of archive footage telling the whole story of the 100-day Battle of Normandy, which was a sobering reminder of why these remembrance services are so important. At Pegasus Bridge, one of the first places liberated in the early hours of 6th June, we met more D-Day veterans whilst visiting the nearby Café Gondree. The atmosphere was terrific, helped by people dressed in WWII uniforms, period vehicles and a fantastic 30-strong band, including 4 pipers.
Following a visit to La Vallee holiday park - where we were staying - to check-in and grab a bite to eat, we returned to Pegasus bridge, listened to more bands, and joined in the famous midnight toast to the veterans and fallen from 74 years ago; a night to remember, lots of stories and great memories.
EMOTIONAL MEETING WITH REGINALD
Following an early start, we met up with a family staying in another Al Fresco Holidays mobile home. Reginald, (pictured above) a 95-year-old WWII veteran, here to attend commemoration services held on this very poignant day. Reg, a lovely man, who served in the 1st Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry, known as the 43rd, was in Normandy in 1944 and had returned not just to pay his respects, but to lead the schoolchildren procession at Benouville, marking the D-Day landings. He was also presented with a commemorative teddy specially dressed in uniform. It was an honour and a pleasure to meet Reg and his family. It was also an incredibly emotional experience to meet a man who has fought for his country alongside so many other brave men.
Leaving Reg to attend his service, we returned to witness the parade cross Pegasus Bridge at 1.30pm before heading to the Bayeux War Cemetery; a sombre yet fitting resting place for over four thousand mainly British WWII casualties.
COMMEMORATIONS SET TO MARCH ON IN 2021
While celebrations look unlikely to go ahead as usual here in 2020, it will be a very special anniversary in 2021 to mark the D-Day landings after 77 years. We will be there to pay our respects and say thank you to all the people who died in both world wars.
If you get the opportunity to go, don’t miss it. The holiday park at La Vallee is just a short drive from Houlgate, and Caen town is only 30 mins away.
As well as the historic importance of the location, there are so many beautiful places to see around this area, all within an easy drive, that make it well worth exploring.
Words below on VE Day 2020 are from Becky Lee, Sales Supervisor at Al Fresco Holidays and part of our team who met Reg on D-Day in 2018
VE Day, 75 years ago, 8th May. A momentous day in our history, a date we can celebrate, but this year it will be different. There will be celebrations with a difference, there will be fly overs and neighbours toasting this day from garden to garden, observing social distancing, yet remembering it we will.
No one more so than our very special Al Fresco guest, 97 year old Reginald Charles. Reg would normally be making his annual trip with Al Fresco to stay in Normandy with his family in June to pay his respects to his fallen comrades and to join in the many events that are held there around the 6th June.
I have had the honour to meet Reginald on a few occasions, and he looks fantastic at 97! He told me some amazing stories about his time serving in WW2.
He is the most spritely 97 year old I have ever met! He truly has an amazing memory when recalling tales of his life in service. This year, events have understandably been put on hold until 2021, and we know that Reginald and his family are disappointed that he cant make the trip across the channel to join in with the other veterans who make this very special trip every year. However, in the spirit of those who served in WW2, it is very much onwards and upwards, and we will be there to greet Reg in June 2021, along with all our other guests who stay with us and join in the events. It’s always a fascinating time to be in Normandy, and one not to be missed.
On Friday 8th May, we will all remember.
All the best Reg and we look forward to seeing you in 2021!