Day 12 |
May 09, 2010

Honfleur, France

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates:  49°26’N, 0°14’E

Weather: partly cloudy

Air Temperature: 11°C

Our last full day onboard the Prince Albert II. Last night we went back into France, and had to set our clocks forward by one hour. The excursion for today started at 08:30, so just before 07:00 I got up and had a nice breakfast with Major Gordon Corrigan. It was his day, as he was the onboard war historian, and today was all about the D-Day. The first thing I learned at breakfast was that the “D” is not standing for decision. (I heard frequently before that the “D” comes from Decision Day.) But Gordon, with quite some military background, convinced me that the “D” is only a military sort of slang for day.

So we left Honfleur, driving to the beaches of Normandy. Our first stop was to the most important museums about the history of the operation, which happened here on the 6th of June 1944.

To get into details about what happened at the landing beaches 66 years ago, is impossible. Whole books are written about that, filling whole libraries. Like our Gordon, he wrote The Second World War: A New History, to be published later this year. Anyhow, for those who have no idea what happened that day, here is a very short version: On the 6th of June 1944, the allies, mainly troops from the US, the UK and Canada in total about 150,000 soldiers, landed here at 5 different places. And that was the beginning of the liberation of Europe. And even though about 3,000 soldiers died that day, the number is considered to be pretty low, some war historians believe a count even ten times greater would be more exact.

After a nice lunch we went to one of the many war cemeteries here in the region. The American Cemetery at Omaha beach was chosen. More than 9,000 white marble crosses and Stars of David stand there in perfect alignment on a plateau above the beach.

Before getting back to the ship, we had a short stop at Omaha beach itself, the place where most of the American troops landed. Gordon gave us some more information about the whole landing operation and the installing of something like a harbor.

Back on board, not a lot of time was left. At 18:30, Richard showed his masterpiece – his digital photos show of our trip. And the evening was finished with one last nice dinner together.