Saturday, August 13, 2011

Not really storming the beaches ...

The one thing that I really wanted to do was storm the beaches … off of a boat … wearing a whole bunch of equipment. Unfortunately, I could not find a single opportunity to do such anactivity. Still, I felt that I had to cross the English Channel above the surface instead of under, so I took an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham, which would connect me with Caen in France. Their were a few similarities between my crossing the channel and the actual crossing in 1944 – the weather looked foreboding, but there was a break; the boat hit shore almost at the same time (6:30 AM), and I was tired. Other than that, the crossing was the polar opposite of what soldiers experienced. Sure, sleeping across four reclining chairs was uncomfortable, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as sitting in a landing craft as the swells of the channel pitched so high that nearly everyone was seasick once the hit the beach. I didn’t throw up in my helmet – they did. They didn’t have a disco on the top of the cruise ship – I did (but didn’t show off any moves). I had my luggage, which was somewhat heavy to carry off the boat to the bus to take me to my rental car. They had up to eighty pounds of gear, which took many of them to the bottom of the channel when the jumped of the boat in deep water or waded into a bomb crater. They faced obstacles, mines, barbed wire, and machine guns. The only obstacle I faced was my limited knowledge of the French language. If I can ever find a way to do it as more of a re-enactment, I would love to try. It might have to be in Ohio, though – but that’s for another summer.

The landing craft of the troops ...

The landing craft of Taft

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