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World War 2 trips 2014
Normandy ~ January 28

Tuesday January 28

During breakfast I notice the heavy rainfall outside. But that doesn’t stop me from tripping. I fist go looking for the castle where the German general Falley had his HQ on D-Day. Guy from my B&B told me about it so I wanted to go find it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it so I continue to Cauqigny.

Last week I saw a Facebook post from my friend Paul Woodadge about a fence at the Cauqigny cemetery with bullet impacts and even a bullet in the fence. Though it’s very windy and raining I get out to find it. It amazes me that this still is here after 70 years.

I cross the Merderet river to the Iron Mike statue parking lot. I now notice how far the river got out of its banks. This must be the view from 1944, but back then nature didn’t make it look that way off course.

I decide to continue to Saint-James and hope it will be dry when I get there. As soon as I get on the motorway it starts raining heavily. I leave at the next exit, at the Dead Man’s Corner museum. I try to locate the Bloody Gulch museum Guy told me about, it should be close to Carentan.

The battle of Bloody Gulch took place near Hill 30 at approximately 30 kilometers from Carentan. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division and the 6th Fallschirmjäger regiment fought against the 501st, 502nd and 506th PIR from the 101st Airborne and the Us 2nd Armored Division. The Americans won the battle.
When I arrive at the ‘museum’ there was nothing much to see there. It is located in the Manoir de Donville, but it looks closed so I leave and drive to the Filthy 13 monument in Brévands.

While driving through Carentan I stop at the 101st Airborne Division monument where wreaths lay for Jack Womer who was in the 101st Airborne and passed away recently.

As I am continuing to Brévands, I notice the Bailey-bridge I have been looking for before but never been able to find. I think that’s because mostly when I’m around here it’s summer time and many trees and bushes grow here so the view isn’t as good as it is now. This will be my first stop. This Tucker Bridge as it’s being called nowadays, was constructed here in June 1944 by the 300th Combat Engineer Battalion to replace the original bridge that was blown up by the Germans. It’s a symbol of commemoration for Major John Tucker who got killed here on June 27, 1944.

My next stop is Brévands where a monument was erected on June 6, 2008 to remember the Filthy Thirtheen. They were part of the 506th PIR, 101st Aiborne Division and their task was to destroy the bridge over the river Douves in the night of 5 and 6 June. While performing this task, the bigger part of the unit was killed.

It looks like it won’t be raining again so I decide to drive to Saint-James where I arrive after a nice meal at the Buffalo Grill in Saint-Lô. The sun is trying to break through the clouds so I couldn’t be happier. When I unloaded my material, I stop at Mr. Aarnio’s office, he’s the superintendent of the cemetery but unfortunately he’s off to Paris.

My first flowers are laid at the Tablets of the Missing where I adopted Kenneth E. Lebls name. He died on June 6, 1944 when his Liberator B-24 bomber collided with another bomber when they returned from Lisieux. They both crashed into the sea. All crew members died, one crew member of the other bomber was taken prisoner.

The next grave is my new adoption grave, the grave of Robert R. Payne. He died on August 11, 1944 in Le Havre. I wait for my American friends to provide me more information on the conditions this occurred in. I take some nice pictures to send to Beverly, the sister of Robert Payne.

The last grave I lay flowers at is my third adoption grave here, the grave of Alfred A. Reboli. So far I couldn’t find much information about him. He died on July 28, 1944, presumably somewhere in France. I hope to retrieve some more information in the future.

I wander around the cemetery and admire the maintenance man who is putting some crosses back in their spot. This really is precision work. Before leaving this sacred ground, I take a look inside the cemetery chapel.

Since I’m in the Mont-Saint-Michel area, I go find a nice spot to take some pictures of this beautiful historical site. On my way there I stop at a beautiful windmill on a hill.

A quick stop at the Hyper U before I return to the B&B in Picauville. The lady of the house suggests to join her to the center of Picauville. We visit the  tourist center where an older lady tells us about Picauville during wartime. She shows many pictures of the town, before and after the bombing. This is truly very interesting. Picauville was bombed by the Allies because they thought there were Germans in the village but they were just outside  the village center, but the Allies didn’t know this. Luckily the civilian victims count was very low.

I learned a lot of new things about Picauville and with that in mind we return to the B&B where I relax for another day of tripping.


Photos