Travel Day today from Ieper to Normandy. Against the background of what was initially light drizzle, we set off with some trepidation.
Our route took us due west of Ieper through the area around Hazebrouk defended by the 1st Division AIF in March 1918 in the face of the German "Kaiserschlacht" offensive. Having been rushed down south they were brought back and told "you are the only formed body of troops between here and the Channel Ports". They did what was asked of them and stemmed the German advance.
Later we passed through St Omer, synonymous In WW2 with the fighter bases that supported the Luftwaffe attack during the Battle of Britain. We passed the intriguing "La Coupoule" site, a V2 rocket command and launch centre completed but never used in WW2. Alas time and space were against us in terms of a visit.
Next it was Abbeville (another Battle of Britain German fighter base) where drive Serge did a 'hot change'’ with Lee. A comfort stop at the coach depot, a quick coffee then we refuelled and continued on our way. Another brief stop for lunch and our remorseless drive south continued apace. We entered Normandy and enjoyed the landscape. Far less built development than was evident on the Somme and particularly in Belgium, the appeal of Normandy was becoming increasingly apparent.
We continued on over the spectacular Normandy Bridges, crossing the surprisingly broad Seine Estuary.
Then a stop in the very picturesque fishing port of Honfleur which made a very favourable impression on everyone, despite the overcast and threatening rain. A shower flushed us into a café but the more resolute struck out once again and were rewarded with a fortuitous burst of sunshine.. A few soothing libations finished off a most satisfactory interlude, before we boarded our coach for the rest of the journey.
Skirting Caen we were ensnared in a Friday afternoon peak hour traffic jam. We continued on to the our home for the next three days, the village of Asnelles, just east of Arromanches. Arriving at the Gold Beach Hotel we checked in ahead of our forthcoming three day review of the D Day operations. Today was our ‘Longest Day’?