The vehicles that liberated Normandy

Written by Kurt | Saturday, 21 August 2010 15:26

willysNormally we wouldn't feature army vehicles on this website, we are about cars that can actually move at a speed more than 45 km/h. This time though we make an exception for variety's sake and because I happened to stumble on a lot of them during my trip to the Normandy region in France. As you probably know the Normandy beaches played host to the allied invasion of Europe in 1944. The D-day left many relics and traces of the war along the beaches but scattered over the whole region are many army vehicles. Read on to see what's what.

As you would expect we took plenty of photos of all these vehicles, there were a surprising number of tanks scattered over the region. These can be found along the beaches, in museums, battle spots, next to monuments and even on little market squares. The quantity of all this military machinery is somewhat overwhelming, after a few days touring the region you don't really take notice of them anymore. Mostly because those tanks were all american sherman tanks and all look the same.

Funnily enough there is even an underwater wrecks museum (Musée des épaves sous-marines @ Port-en-Bessin) which shows a few tanks that sunk to the bottom of the ocean before even reaching the beaches on that fatal day in July. About 40 years after the war a french diver was asked by the french government to remove the obstacles and as a result clearing the area for ships. The tanks and many other little bits and pieces (including two huge german torpedoos) make for fascinating viewing and picture taking as most of the vehicles still have corals and sea shells on them. Of course they're rusty but rust-proofing liquid was used to protect these relics for even more rust.

On 8 August we happened to bump into a french sign at a tourist office telling us there was a 'Camp US' with military vehicles going on in a little village nearby. We were pleasantly surprised, the camp turned out to be a big french camping party. The guys obviously wearing period US army uniform and all the girls were dressed in splendid 1940s clothing. Everything else seemed authentic too; the food, the tents, the accessories. The vehicles mostly being jeeps all looked beatifully restored all with period equipment like radios, tools and the like. 1940s army trucks were present too.Funnily enough, for a military event like this there were not a lot of replica guns to be seen at all, and so it should be, it was a peaceful event just showing visitors how living an army life was back then. It could best be described as a living museum without all the fighting and a good excuse for owners of military vehicles to take them for a spin and have some fun around a camp fire. I wonder, is there anything like it somewhere in Holland, I'm curious!

{jcomments on}