by Jack Copley

November 1999 -- We made reservations with Col. Chilcott, retired from British Army, at his Bed & Breakfast a 300 year old farm in Bayeux near the beaches. We set him up for our tour guide using his van for the next day after we arrived from Paris via train. We arrived at RR station and the Col. was there with the van. Dropped us off at the Museum in Caen. A great one to see, with much German and American equipment. Plenty of Photos taken during the invasion. Great stuff to see. Was an eye opener for our daughter as was everything she saw for the two days we were in the area. Had a great dinner in Bayeux, set up by the host. Had great and very large rooms at the farm. The Col. and his wife were wonderful. Had drinks and a good evening together. Up early with a large breakfast then off on the 6 hour tour. Started at the Caen beach where British were fighting. Then to the beach to Omaha. Bunkers still there as I remember them. Hillside with plenty of shell holes from the Navy still can be picked out. While we 150th were camped out near Omaha, I was sent back to the beach many times to pick up food and stuff for the outfit in my truck. Would you believe it - the Col. and I found the road I used at the time and went down to the beach and there were the remains of the very large German bunker as I remember it along with the remains of the concrete docks that were floated over from England to make a temp. harbor to unload the troops and equipment. Took many pictures and walked the beach again. Was low tide, I had forgotten how wide the beach is at low water. About 300 t0 400 yards. God, how did they make it through to cover? Many did not. On to the Point where the rangers scaled the cliffs. All bunkers are still there with all the shell holes - what a Hell hole. Had lunch at the restaurant on the beach. It was there during the landings and many pictures of GI's eating outside the same restaurant. Was a bit much for me to see it. Went on to the American Cemetery which was really something to see. 40,000 Americans buried there. Was a bit hard on me to see it, I am very glad we saw it. They are the real heroes. On to a German Cemetery and I returned the German dog tags I have had all these years. The German Superintendent said he would send them to the family. Asked where I took them off the dead German. Could not remember. We finally after all these years found out how a friend was killed on D. Day. He was with the 101st Airborne Division. He was drowned when he hit the flooded pastures in the area. It is a very low area and the Germans flooded most of the lowland to trap the GIs and tanks. We saw the area and can now for the first time understand. You have to see the area. Stopped in the town where the movie THE LONGEST DAY was shot, Red Buttons hanging on the church tower..still have a chute hanging there. One thing that really surprised me. I had a red felt hat with my battle ribbons attached, where ever we went throughout France, in towns, cities, trains, buses, subway, the people came up and thanked me for what we did. Even the police saluted me! They could not do enough for us, even in Paris. Back to Paris and in time to have supper at the HARD ROCK CAFE.
We did more sightseeing in Paris then a train for 4 hours to Nancy where we were in the war prior to the battle of the bulge. We ran out of gas and supplies after reaching Nancy during the war. Had a nice hotel downtown next to rail station. Next day rented a car and took off to Verdun. Took the back roads and everything looked familiar but I could not remember a lot. I was a truck driver during the war so at this point going back after 55 years was strange. My Sgt. Cuttcliff had me drive to Verdun from Nancy and at that time we toured the WW1 battlefields, killing time. Was a bad day for us to see so many dead from the last war, but interesting. So here I am again with my family touring the Verdun battlefields and it was something to see with them. Gosh here I was 55 years later standing at the same places. It was something else. Anyway, today the French built a very ,very large building at the top of a ridge and in front about a million French graves of the French that were killed at this place. We drove to the building (Closed) and we looked through the windows and saw (so the sign said) The bones of 135,000 Frenchmen killed and could not be identified. Also German bones. After the war the Govt. went there and picked up the bones from the trenches and no mans land and put them in this building. My daughter and I went out into no mans land and the trenches which are still there. What a terrible way to fight a war. Everything is sill as it was but trees have grown up. Took off for Nancy and overnight then back to Paris for the remainder of our stay. While in Paris we ran into a large number of Free Frenchmen as they were called during the war, they saw my battle ribbons, and it was like old home week on the street. We were there the day before Armistice Day and the French go all out. Not like this country. So, guess these men came into the city to march in the parade.

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