Monday, 6 June 2016

Normandy 2016, Day 3...

Normally on days off, or on holiday, I tend to sleep late. So much for that idea. At 05:30, I was woken by one of the lads (I’ll mention no names, Dave!) alarm clock. Ugh. So, realising that I wasn’t likely to get much more sleep at all, got up, and grabbed a shower. By 08:00, we were on the road, heading for Bayeux.

The Monday saw more traffic on the Péage motorway, but nowhere near the levels that I’d been expecting, even considering that HGV traffic was once again using the road. It was quite an eye ­opener, and made me wonder just how much of the freight that travels to all parts of France gets there ­ - do they use their railway that much more than we do? Guess that’s a topic for another time, anyway.

By 9 a.m. we were in Bayeux, and found a little café that the lads visited last year, which served a very nice ham and eggs - ­ no damned McDonald today! We also met the dogs that apparently tried to be *very* friendly with Dave’s leg last year... apparently, the poor mutt had learned his lesson from last year, to much amusement from the rest of us!

Still a bit misty, but the
gothic impressiveness
of the place takes your
breath away!
The Cathedral at Bayeux was the reason we were present, and was the focus for the Royal British Legion (RBL) service of remembrance for D­-Day.

There was one major spoilage to the event, however. The Air Cadets, who we met previously, had been asked to attend, and did so in their best uniforms, with flag bearers.

As they understood it, they were to take part in the parade within the cathedral.

Either this was wrong, someone got crossed wires, or someone changed their mind, as a completely and utterly disgusting insult to the Air Training Corps followed: The cadets, in entirety, were told to leave. In full view of the local media’s cameras.

Inside, before the
service started. Minus
the Air Cadets.
So, rather than cause a massive scene, they did as asked, with dignity; the cadets out of the side doors, their flag party smartly marching out the front doors. They were understandably upset, angry, and very hurt over this slap in the face.

Whoever told them to leave needs to be held to account, as it was a completely unnecessary insult to the Air Cadets and Her Majesty, as the cadets obviously bore a Colours flag bearing the Crown insignia (the ATC was formed on the command of a Royal Warrant, unlike the other Cadet services).

This is an argument for another place, by people with scrambled egg on the visors of their caps, but someone in the RBL needs to be brought to account over this disgusting incident. It cast a pall over the rest of the proceedings.

After the service, the remaining flag bearers and band marched up to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at the top of the hill (with one vastly entertaining hiccup ­ the band, leading the parade, took left turn downhill followed by a right turn uphill, smack dab into a cul-de-sac, and had to perform a swift about turn on the march to get back onto line of route!).

Normally, I’d expect the RBL to provide a marshalling team to prevent this sort of foul­-up, but apparently, they either didn’t feel it was necessary, or they didn’t turn up. Either way, it was the only amusing feature of the day.

Once at the cemetery, we kept a weather eye on both the veterans and the cadets again, as the day had turned out to be very hot indeed.

By the end of the service at the cemetery, several veterans and a few cadets had needed to be treated for heat exhaustion; the medics on­-site were excellent, and did what was needed, but the sheer volume of patients they had to work with was somewhat larger than they’d been expecting, so once again, we ended up providing immediate first aid to the cadets, to reduce the paramedics workload.

I’m glad to say that none of those treated required anything more than shade, cooling down, and water, and they all recovered swiftly.

After this, we made our way to Arromanches on the coast. Apparently, last year, the lads had made such a good impression with someone of some import at Rots, that we’d been asked to attend the Arromanches commemorations with a view to lending help with the marshalling of the event.

To cut a long story short, we liaised with the organisers, the Royal Marines (there to provide the Veterans escorts in the parade), the First Aid team provided by the QARANCs (Queen Anne’s Royal Army Nursing Corps), and the local security and Police Municipale. Quite a tall order, but we pulled it off nicely, with no bent noses, and quite a bit of fun along the way. I was too busy to take photos this time, but I’ll try again next year :­)

Dinner that evening was a burger and fries on the sea front (miles better than the McDonald’s stuff over here!)

And yes, we made a fair few new friends along the way :­)

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