On to the beaches of Normandy

Trip Start Apr 27, 2010
Trip End May 08, 2010

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Flag of France  ,
Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hi again everyone!  Today our "tourist" part of the trip ended and the "pilgrimage" part of the tour began.  Today we left Paris early and began a 3.5 hour bus ride up to the Normandy coast to visit the landing sites related to the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. 

We arrived at Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer in the late morning.  We began our time in this area with a tour of the Juno Beach Centre, an impressive museum dedicated not only to Canada's role in the D-Day landings, but the entire Second World War.  Students were able to view artifacts, read informative articles and interact with various displays as they investigated Canada's role in WWII.  Following the visit to the Juno Beach Centre, students made their way out onto the beach itself, where the Canadians landed on June 6, 1944.  A group photo was taken (see below) and the group had time to walk, reflect and soak in the sights and such related to this important piece of Canadian history.

Students were then given some time for lunch in the small seaside village of Arromanches, the location of the articficial port built to service the Allies' drive into occupied France in WWII.  Students were able to see many memorials and relics as they walked through this little town.  Following this free time, the group boarded the bus and continued down the beaches to see the Longues Battery, a series of German anti-aircraft guns that were a focal point of the Allied attack on D-Day.  A link to local history - these guns were knocked out of action by the HMCS Ajax!

Finally, the students went to visit Beny-sur-Mer cemetery, site of over 2000 Canadian graves of the men who fought and died in the area.  The students were given time to walk around the cemetery and pay their respects to the men there.  Afterwards, the group boarded the bus and made our way to the hotel in Rouen.  All in all, today was a very moving and emotional day, and the students were able to begin to see the sacrifices that the Canadian soldiers made as they landed in Normandy and began their campaign through France, into Belgium and the Netherlands.  It has set up the next few days very nicely.
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