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News > Alumni News > Commemorating the D Day Landings

Commemorating the D Day Landings

Mark, Mike & David commemorate D Day Normandy 6 June 1944 plus 70 years.
23 Nov 2014
Alumni News
Mark Wightman (57-63 C), David Spry (58-63 C), Mike Hannaford (56-64 F)
Mark Wightman (57-63 C), David Spry (58-63 C), Mike Hannaford (56-64 F)
None of us were born by 6th June 1944 but the mothers of two of us were pregnant and the third must have had a twinkle in the eye; we were all born by Victory in Europe Day in May 1945.

David is the owner of a World War II Jeep. We mustered at his home in Kent, within easy reach of the Channel Tunnel, having collected a hired flatbed trailer earlier. Like us, the Jeep is getting on a bit and it was felt best to spare it the added challenge of a long blast on the motorways of northern France.
 
Our base was an ancient hotel in Bayeux, where Hannaford commandeered a large double bedded room while Spry and Wightman coped with admirable fortitude in a small twin bedded room. Nothing changes: he was of course a former head prefect!
 
From there, we made day trips in the Jeep starting at the western end of the invasion area, on the Cherbourg peninsular inland from Utah Beach (USA) at Saint Mere Eglise which has an excellent museum dealing particularly with the Airborne Divisions.
 
We moved eastwards taking in Pointe du Hoc above Omaha Beach (USA), Arromanches with its famous museum above Gold Beach (British) where the remains of the amazing Mulberry harbour can still be seen. At St Aubin Sur Mere, adjacent to Juno Beach (Canadian) while we enjoyed a refreshing beer on the sea front we became engaged in conversation with a French lady who really set our emotions going by thanking us for what Britain did in the invasion and liberation of France. This attitude was far from untypical. Dear soul, we talked of an old lady but in retrospect she is probably younger than us!
 
Finally we took in Ouistreham, adjoining Sword Beach (British), the area around the mouth of the River L'Orme and then onto Pegasus Bridge, which again has a very good museum covering different aspects of the invasion in that area.
 
En route to the beaches we had visited a beautiful country mansion at Creully, where Eisenhower and Montgomery had their HQ and also the British cemetery at Bayeux. This is a beautiful tranquil place, very well maintained, and goes a long way to give the respect so greatly owed to those, often so very young, men who gave their lives for us.
 
This 70th anniversary of D Day reminds us of the beginning of one of the greatest battles in history which by May 1945 had secured freedom and democracy in the West. It is gradually passing from living memory to history. That is why we three, as early beneficiaries of those events 70 years ago and with strong related emotions, wanted so much to make our visit.
 
Mark Wightman 57-63 C
 

 

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