Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Trip to Normandy


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Sarah Bamford

Sarah Bamford

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 376 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 07:57 PM

Has anyone out there done a trip to Normandy (D Day etc.) any top tips about must sees (and must nots..). I'm getting cold feet about it thinking perhaps a trip to museum in Portsmouth might have done just as well.. (never been there either..)

cheers
Sarah

#2 Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse

    Six Star General

  • Admin
  • 3,537 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 08:07 PM

Which year group? I've been with Yr7, 9 and KS4.

#3 Sarah Bamford

Sarah Bamford

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 376 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 08:27 PM

3 days, year 10s..not all doing GCSE but interested.

#4 Luke Mayhew

Luke Mayhew

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 295 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:41 PM

Starting a joint trip with MFL from this June. We're there for 6 days in total.... Will try and find out the plans, which are somewhere at shcool....
Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.

#5 nickyromf

nickyromf

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 63 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:48 PM

We take our Yr 7s with the French Dept every year. I'd recommend staying at a place called Chateau du Baffy (if I've remembered it right!!!), its owned by NST I think. We've stayed there for the past 5 years and it suits us down to the ground. You're in a very quiet village, pretty near everything and they're geared to school kids. Games room, tennis courts and a teachers room that the kids cant go in!!!

#6 JaneMoore

JaneMoore

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 204 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:53 PM

Also look into company called Kingswood. Lots of places in England, but also one in France and we went for the first time last year, VERY impressed. Leaders who knew their stuff, good relationship with pupils, good cross section of activities.

#7 Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse

    Six Star General

  • Admin
  • 3,537 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 10:27 PM

Must do's:

Arromanche - 360 Audio visual cinema is good, plus a visit to the beech, the museum on the front and a look at the Mulberry. Some photos.

La Coupole - V1/2 launch site. Very interesting site. Links with slave labour, Bombing runs in prep for D Day and obviously the uses of vengeance weapons. Photos.

Omaha - take your pick....

Bayeaux - the cemetry is worth visiting. One of the most moving places I've ever been. Across the road is one of the better D Day museums, so it makes for a nice combination. I'd do museum first, then the cemetry - followed by a "off topic" visit into Bayeaux to see the tapestry whilst the kids reflect on the things they've seen.

Daniel Letouzy would be a good person to ask about this...

#8 Will

Will

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 302 posts

Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:39 AM

Depends how long you go for as there is so much to see and also how you intend to get there, there is quite a lot en route if you go via Calais, which is not the most direct route but the route we went:

Caen - An amazing museum, great city and where William Duke of Normady is buried- worth a look
Arromanche - but not the 360 Cinema Museum, just the one on the shore line above the Mulberry harbours.
Point Du Hoc - You really get a sense of the destruction and danger the troops faced when landing.
St Mere Egleis - Good museum to the Airbourne
Pegasus Bridge - Great Museum and original bridge - Also a British led raid.
Colville St Mere- Huge American Cemetry above Omaha Beach

On the Way
Todt Battery - Large Train Gun, Massive Gun Emplacement and some good exhibits.
Mimmoques - V3 Base - Massive underground complex.

So much to see and do, 100% recommend it! Sorry about any poor spelling.

Will

#9 Sarah Bamford

Sarah Bamford

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 376 posts

Posted 30 January 2008 - 07:11 PM

Thanks for the positive responses.. I feel reassured I'm not dragging them off on a wild goose chase.


What is there at Omaha Dan? - is it just the beach or anything else to see? - and is 'just the beach' worth the accompanying mammoth risk assessment?

I must admit this is the second trip I've organised this year and each time we've paid a company to organise and each time I've ended up writing the schedule.. surely that should be their expertise??

maybe you should take a career move Dan??

S

#10 Maurice Savage

Maurice Savage

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 54 posts

Posted 30 January 2008 - 09:56 PM

I am not a history teacher but spent a week in Normandy last summer and can recommend a few places:

Pegasus Bridge and Museum: Quite a lot to see here and a truly British victory worth celebrating. Putting on a 'teacher' hat, I could see a problem with the new bridge area and glider memorials. This is a public area across the road from the museum...and a very busy road as well. The famous Gondree Cafe is across the bridge so lots of places for kids to wander.

Arromanches: I did not go into the 360 panaroma show so cannot comment on this. You should only arrive at low tide (to be able to walk out on the beach and get close to some remains of the Mulberry Harbour). I hit the beach in late afternoon and then drove up to where the 360 degree panaroma thing is which gives a fantastic view of the whole harbour. Teacher hat on: The beach is a beach but when the tide is out is it quite safe.
The harbour remains are massive and made of reinforced concrete. All of them can be climbed upon, with one rising to about 4m (height of a semi). Having said that I would highly recommend seeing them up close to appreciate the magnitude of what the British builders achieved, (get the kids to note the details as well as the shear size. You can find archive photos to compare with the 'today' views).
I would also recommend the Museum here (Musee de Debarqument I think its called).

Arromanches is part of Gold beach but I would not recommend any features on Juno or Sword that are worth seeing (other then perhaps driving along the coast road to get an idea of just how vast the invasion was) unless you have more than 5 days available.

On the American side, the whole Utah Beach area is probably too far away if you only have 3 days and you are coming from Le Harve/Caen direction. Ste Mere Eglise is a nice small town but only the Airborne Museum would really be worth a visit.

Moving back to Omaha, The two must-sees are:

American Cemetery at St Laurent sur Mer. This is the only American cemetery in Normandy and must be seen(apparently while Americans like to bring their dead to one place or return them home, the British bury their dead close to where they fell - Normandy is dotted with a couple of dozen Commonwealth cemeteries: see below).
With so many dead and laid out in such a spectacular way it really is a memorable experience. There is a small exhibition there but I would suggest passing it to make the most of the cemetery. From a teacher point of view, this place is vast with loads of places to disappear in. It also gets packed from about 10am (make it your first stop in the morning and if the weather is nice it really hits home).
The cemetery is also located with a specacular view over Omaha Beach. The beach is about 300m away and downhill but I would not recommend going down. The view back up the bluffs is impressive but I think the round trip is not worth it.

Vierville sur Mer allows easier access to Omaha beach (and this is where the major casualties were) but again, from a teacher point of view more difficult to manage, in my opinion.

Point du Hoc. Perhaps the second most famous American location. Quite an isolated spot this, on cliffs about 30m above the ocean. The ground has been left relatively untouched and so bomb craters are clearly visable (I do not know of any other part of Normandy left like this). A large open area with lots of concrete bunkers to explore. From a risk point of view the cliffs are barriered off and on my visit did not see many people climbing where they shouldn't. Several viewing platforms are provided which probably stops the urge to climb. There are however some underground bunkers, with no lighting or amenities. If you plan to go would suggest not allowing the students too free a reign here.

If you only have one day to 'do' Omaha I would suggest you start at the American cemetery, move to Point du Hoc and then finish at a place called La Cambe. La Cambe is the only German cemetery in Normandy and a very intersting comparison with the American Cemetery. Apparently the French authorities were relunctant to allow the Germans too much land to bury their dead, so it is a fraction of the size of the American cemetery. It is also located within yards of the main N13 road about 2 miles inland from Point du Hoc. Compare the noise here with the peace at St Laurent...

Another person on the forum has recommended the Commonwealth Cemetery at Bayeux. I must second that. It is just up the road from the Battle of Normandy Museum. If possible, arrive in the evening as this looks quite amazing against all the white stone. The cemetery extends across a main road but it is a special traffic calming area so shouldn't be too bad. Like the beach at Arromanches, I think the benefit should outway the risk

I would highly recommend visiting a tiny Commonwealth Cemetery called Ryes. It is about 2 miles inland from Arromanches just off the D112 between Crepon and Sommervieu. I arrived in the evening to find this tiny piece of green surrounding by fields which disappeared in all directions. Like Bayaux the plots are made of white marble. But its the isolation and peace that really hits you. An ideal place to stop on the way back to your accomadation I think. (I have uploaded a little commentary I made at Ryes to YouTube. My channel is Video History Today. There are other clips there as well: La Cambe, Pegasus Bridge, a two on Omaha Beach close to the American Cemetery see my D Day playlist).

If you want any more info or any places others have mentioned drop me a PM. If I have any video I will put it on my YouTube channel for you to check out.

Maurice

Edited by Maurice Savage, 30 January 2008 - 10:02 PM.

<a href="http://www.videohistorytoday.com" target="_blank">www.VideoHistoryToday.com</a>
Video clips from historical places

www.AmericanCivilWarCollection.com
Unique Collections of Photographs, Maps and Lesson Plans

#11 Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse

    Six Star General

  • Admin
  • 3,537 posts

Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:34 PM

Please do NOT ignore Juno and Sword.

My grandfather was Chief Petty Officer on a ship that was sunk off Sword on D Day, he then returned to have another blasted from under him off Juno a few days later.

Following D Day and Normandy my Grandfather was sent to South Africa, having never previously seen either of his daughters (My mother was born on Christmas Day, 1944, she was FIVE when she first saw her father who had NOT opted to remain in the force after the war....)

My great uncle had his arm blown off on Sword. His best friend had his legs blown away, also on Sword.

Please DO NOT fall for the Omaha myth. British lads got wiped out on all of the DDay beaches and the Battle for Normandy saw thousands of GB soldiers being killed/ wounded.

NB: 9 members of my family were killed on DDay. All on Sword or Juno.......

PLEASE do not ignore them out of hand, they are where our boys hit the beaches and whilst action was relatively light, it was't a 'waltz in the park' as is suggested by some documentaries.

#12 Wills

Wills

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 202 posts

Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:26 PM

Please do NOT ignore Juno and Sword.

My grandfather was Chief Petty Officer on a ship that was sunk off Sword on D Day, he then returned to have another blasted from under him off Juno a few days later.

Following D Day and Normandy my Grandfather was sent to South Africa, having never previously seen either of his daughters (My mother was born on Christmas Day, 1944, she was FIVE when she first saw her father who had NOT opted to remain in the force after the war....)

My great uncle had his arm blown off on Sword. His best friend had his legs blown away, also on Sword.

Please DO NOT fall for the Omaha myth. British lads got wiped out on all of the DDay beaches and the Battle for Normandy saw thousands of GB soldiers being killed/ wounded.

NB: 9 members of my family were killed on DDay. All on Sword or Juno.......

PLEASE do not ignore them out of hand, they are where our boys hit the beaches and whilst action was relatively light, it was't a 'waltz in the park' as is suggested by some documentaries.


Hi Dan,
I understand your angst but do not feel that Maurice was suggesting ignoring Juno and Sword, I think he was merely visualising what the beaches could show or prove to a school group with limited time to spend in the Normandy area. I agree to a point in this scenario as it is possible they may appear as 'beaches' for any other purpose to a school group who will no doubt have a lot to take in on such a trip and where there are few focal points on these beaches to study unless you are an undergraduate group or suchlike.
Of course the beaches must be included in some way, and the suggestion of a 'drive past' with a commentary would be a significant inclusion on any Normandy trip. Hopefully the pupils would have been fully versed on events prior to the trip anyhow and hopefully they would be keen to get a flavour of the places where such astounding events and heroic sacrifices occurred.
It really does depend on the focus of the trip and whether the group has time to cover the full allied invasion or concentrates on either the British or American events. When the focus has been decided then that will dictate the content as the whole area has far too much to explore in 3 days!
From what you said I would also suggest that the pupils do some research on their own families first and the experiences could hopefully be collated to try to include as many of the pupils' family experiences as possible, if this is not possible in visits they can be part of the ongoing commentary throughout the tour.

Two other points I would like to suggest are:
if the Dutch guide (can't remember his name) is still at the Pegasus museum then book him - he is marvellous!
The Arromanches (Mulberry) museum is great but, again the school guides really bring the story to life and pupils will not really get the full impact without a detailed explanantion of the working models.

#13 Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse

    Six Star General

  • Admin
  • 3,537 posts

Posted 31 January 2008 - 08:19 AM

I guess my main point here is that there are loads of places that are often overlooked which have a lot of relevance. Often not the easiest to incorporate into a visit but certainly worthy of consideration - even if its a 5 minute break between the more established sites.

#14 Maurice Savage

Maurice Savage

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 54 posts

Posted 31 January 2008 - 11:02 AM

Just to clarify my opinion, I said to leave Juno and Sword out because the Normandy area is huge and on a 3 day trip seeing everything is impossible. If you include the Bayeux Tapestry, which will take up half a day atleast, it really is difficult to see much without spending a lot of time on a bus. I would never suggest to miss these parts if you have the time.

With regard to your family's involvement on D Day Dan, would it be practical for Sarah to follow the route taken by members of your family through Normandy? Or maybe their regiments? Not being a teacher I do not know how much students would go for this but it would allow a group to start on the spot they landed, and move inland along the route taken by the troops. Would a day of this be more useful then wandereing around the sights? Use your story of real people to make the often-quoted-then-forgotten-stats more realistic (ie 'John Smith landed here and moved with the ABC regiment along this route' rather than '20,000 troops landed here and 250 died here')?

This idea is hardly original (Stephen Ambroses book 'Band of Brothers' does this right the wat into Germany) and would involve more planning from Sarah's point of view but may allow later studies to draw in the bigger themes into the story of a single man/regiment.

(And Sarah, highly recommend you video each location for future use. And my most vivid memories of Normandy were how big it was, how flat and the incessant wind. And lastly how serene it all looks today...)
<a href="http://www.videohistorytoday.com" target="_blank">www.VideoHistoryToday.com</a>
Video clips from historical places

www.AmericanCivilWarCollection.com
Unique Collections of Photographs, Maps and Lesson Plans

#15 Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse

    Six Star General

  • Admin
  • 3,537 posts

Posted 31 January 2008 - 11:16 AM

Good idea about tracing routes - there are probably several easier to follow stories out there. I'll have a look into that (though more for personal interest!) You're right about there being too much to cover on one visit though - picking out several realy worthwhile sites is key to getting the visit sorted.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users