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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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February 9 2011 4 09 /02 /February /2011 14:20

The next day I drove my brother to the Calvados Department where the temperatures were almost freezing!  The strong winds did not make things any better and so we had to bundle up like Eskimo babies just to keep warm.  182 Arromanches-les-BainsOur first stop was Arromanches-les-Bains, a modest seaside resort which owes its fame to the gigantic landing operation which took place in June 1944.  In the roadstead of the little port are the remains of a Mulberry harbor, the most extraordinary industrial and maritime achievement of the war.  170 Arromanches-les-Bains176 Arromanches-les-BainsArromanches harbor was chosen as the landing point for Mulberry B for British troops, while Mulberry A for the Americans was taken to Omaha Beach.  More about Arromanches can be read here at my posting from 21 NOVEMBER 2009170b Arromanches-les-BainsThe establishment of these artificial ports meant the laying of 146 Phoenix caissons, representing 500,000 tons of concrete (each one was 7 meters long, 20 meters high and 15 meters wide; 33 jetties and 16km of floating “roads”.  172 Arromanches-les-BainsMulberry B at Arromanches, later known as Port Winston, enabled 9,000 tons of material to be landed each day.  Several Phoenix caissons are still there today.  181a Arromanches-les-Bains183a Arromanches-les-Bains184a Arromanches-les-Bains185 Arromanches-les-BainsNearby is the Musée du Débarquement.  It contains a collection of models, photographs, dioramas, arms and equipment of the Allied forces.  Sadly, it was closed when we arrived because it was still so early in the morning.  227 Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxOur next stop took us directly to Bayeux, the first French town to be liberated (7 June 1944) and was fortunate not to have been damaged during the war.  194a BayeuxAlong the Quai de l’Aure one has a fine view of the river, the water mill in what was once the tanning district.  The arched bridge, the old fish market and the towers of the cathedral in the background.  Notre-Dame Cathedral still keeps watch over this charming, old-fashioned town and the Bayeux Tapestry presents its unique record of the events of 1066 to the visitor.  196 Bayeux Tapestry198 Centre Guillaume-le-Conquérant, BayeuxThe Bayeux Tapestry is displayed in the Centre Guillaume le Conquerant in an impressive 18th century building, which was a seminary until 1970.  It is displayed under glass around the walls of the specially designed Harold Room.  222 Bayeux TapestryThe origins of the tapestry are unknown.  It was probably commissioned in England soon after the conquest from a group of Saxon embroiderers by Odo of Conteville, Count of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux, to adorn the cathedral he had just had built.  It appears in the cathedral’s Treasury Inventory for 1476.  In the 18th century it was wrongly attributed to Queen Matilda.  The embroidery is in colored wool on a piece of linen 50cm high by 70 meters long.  Click HERE to see the tapestry in its entirety.  The work is the most accurate and lively document to survive from the Middle Ages and provides detailed information on the clothes, ships, arms and general lifestyle of the period.  The illustrations give a very realistic account of the events of 1066.  From the initial rivalry between Harold and William to the conquest and final Norman victory the story is told in 58 detailed scenes.  The English are distinguished by their moustaches and long hair, the Normans by their short hairstyles, the clergy by their tonsures and the women (three in all) by their flowing garments and veiled heads.  Here are several photos I took with scene descriptions.

200 Bayeux Tapestry--Where Harold, Duke of the English, and his soldiers ride to Bosham.

201 Bayeux Tapestry--Here Guy brings Harold to William, Duke of the Normans.

202 Bayeux Tapestry--In the lower border we see a little naked couple, one of the erotic motifs that appear here and there in the margins of the Tapestry.

204 Bayeux Tapestry--Here Duke William and his army come to Mont-Saint-Michel and cross the river Couesnon.  Duke Harold gives proof of his courage and strength by rescuing two Normans from some quicksand; he carries one on his back and drags the other to safety with his right hand.

205 Bayeux Tapestry--Here Duke William’s soldiers do battle with the men of Dinan.  Two soldiers with torches are trying to set fire to the fortress.  Above right is Conan; on the tip of his lance hang the keys to the city, which William receives on the tip of his own weapon.

206 Bayeux Tapestry--Here William comes to Bayeux, where Harold swears a sacred oath to Duke William by placing his hands on Holy relics.

207 Bayeux Tapestry--The appearance of Halley’s Comet (in the upper border) causes great consternation among all who see it.  It was visible in England from February 1066 onwards, reaching its maximum brightness at the end of April.  This comet was regarded as an ill omen and it inspired terror.  The presentation of Harold to his people is thus directly followed by the suggestion that his coronation took place beneath an ‘evil star’.  The new King is clearly also perturbed by the comet.  Harold sits listening, head to one side, as a man addresses him.  The Tapestry seems to imply that they are talking about the impending invasion by a Norman fleet, for beneath the King’s feet we see ghostly ships in skeletal outline.

209 Bayeux Tapestry--These men carry arms to the ships of Duke William.

210 Bayeux Tapestry--Here Duke William crosses the sea in a great ship and arrives in Pevensey.  After a delay of two weeks, the ships crossed the Channel on the night of 27/28 September.  The bulk of the army was Norman, though Bretons, Flemings, Frenchmen and Italians also took part.  The ‘great ship’ is the Norman flagship, the Mora, with a wooden human figure mounted on her sternpost.

211 Bayeux Tapestry--And here troops have hurried to Hastings to seize food.  The meat is cooked, and here the servants serve it on spits which they carry to the table. 

212 Bayeux Tapestry--A feast is held and Bishop Odo, seated at the semicircular table laden with dishes, imparts his blessing on the food and drink.

214 Bayeux Tapestry--Here the troops set out from Hastings and advance to do battle against King Harold.  Duke William asks Vital whether he has seen Harold’s army.

215 Bayeux Tapestry--In the midst of the Norman cavalry a party of archers advances and Duke William exhorts his troops to prepare themselves manfully and wisely for the battle against the army of the English.

216 Bayeux Tapestry--The Tapestry shows the Anglo-Saxons forming a shield-wall and repulsing a cavalry attack on two sides.  We thus see Harold’s troops for the first time; they are armed and armored in the same way as their opponents, but they fight only on foot.  The lower border now fills with casualties.

217 Bayeux Tapestry--Here, at the same time, both English and French fall in battle.  There are casualties on both sides.  Horses plunge and somersault in the mêlée.

218 Bayeux Tapestry--Duke William tips back his helmet to show his face.  The man riding ahead of the Duke is possibly Count Eustace of Boulogne.  A long line of archers in the lower margin accompanies the renewed cavalry charge.

219 Bayeux Tapestry--The cavalry charge leads to a final, bloody, hand-to-hand combat, in which Normans kill Anglo-Saxons.

220 Bayeux Tapestry--Here King Harold is slain with an arrow piercing his head; the English flee.

230 Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxNotre-Dame Cathedral is a fine Norman Gothic building.  Only the towers and the crypt remain from the original church, which was completed in 1077 by Odo of Conteville, King William’s turbulent companion in arms whom he eventually had to restrain.  231b Portal of St-Thomas Beckett, Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayThe portal of the south transept is pure in style; the tympanum over the door shows the story of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was assassinated in his cathedral on the orders of Henry II.  232 Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux245b Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux244a Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux232d Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux232e Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux234 Bishops and Saints of Bayeux window, South Transept, No241 North Transept window, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux246 Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux239 Eye of God, Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxThe well-lit nave is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic dating from the 13th century.  233 Litany of the Virgin Altarpiece, St-Pierre Chapel, Notr248 Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxThe St-Pierre chapel in the north side contains this beautiful altarpiece called a retable depicting the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary240 Fresco, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux242 Murals on the chapel of the South Transept, Notre-DameThere are some chapels along the south side of the cathedral that still contain 15th century frescoes.  234a Crypt entrance, Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxBeneath the chancel is the 11th century crypt, which is divided into three small chambers, each of which contains six bays of groined vaulting.  235 Crypt, Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxAbove the decorated foliage of the capitals are 15th century frescoes (restored) of angel musicians.  231 Notre-Dame Cathedral, Bayeux231d Western facade, Notre-Dame Cathedral, BayeuxJust outside the cathedral is the rue Bienvenu with a beautiful timber-framed house decorated with wooden carvings inspired by religion and legend.  251a Rue Bienvenu, BayeuxAcross the street we decided to have a typical Normandy lunch at the Au Louis d'Or Crêperie.  252 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, Bayeux253 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, Bayeux254 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, Bayeux255 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, Bayeux256 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, Bayeux258 Au Louis d'Or Crêperie for lunch, BayeuxEach of us chose something different and which we then shared while downing bowls of apple cider.  Unfortunately we did not have time to wander the streets of Old Bayeux because we were in a hurry to get to the American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer.  260b American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer260a American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer262 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer263 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer265 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer264 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer268 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer270 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-MerAfter visiting the brand new Visitor’s Center and Museum, we walked down to Omaha Beach along a small path, which winds down the cliffside.  270a American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer272 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer274 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer276 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer277 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer278 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer280 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer279 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer281 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer283 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer284 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer285 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer288b American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer286 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer288 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer291 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer292 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer294 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-MerAfter making it back to the top again we explored the vast cemetery with its 9,385 Carrara marble crosses.  I’ve written about this place before in blog postings from 18 JAN 2010 to 22 MAY 2010297 American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-MerCheck them out for more photos and a better understanding of what can be found in the cemetery.  300b American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer302a Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves, Americ306a Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves, Americ307 Wall of the Missing, American Cemetery at Omaha Beach,308a American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-MerThe American Battle Monuments Commission has a great site with even more information.  309 1st U.S. Infantry Division Memorial, American CemeteryThis final picture is of the monument erected just outside of the cemetery to the US 1st Infantry Division.  319 La pointe du HocRunning out of daylight, we hurried on to La pointe du Hoc.  The Jurassic limestone plateau ends in a tall cliff (over 30 meters) dominating the lower rocky shoreline at Grandcamp.  321 La pointe du Hoc322 La pointe du HocThe Germans heavily defended la pointe du Hoc; their observation post covered all that sector of the sea where the American invasion fleet appeared on the morning of 6 June 1944.  325 La pointe du HocAs the troops landing on Omaha Beach would have been particularly vulnerable to attack from this battery the American commander ordered a naval bombardment in which the Texas fired 600 salvoes of 14-inch shells.  323 La pointe du Hoc324 La pointe du HocThe 2nd Battalion of specially trained Rangers captured the position by assault at dawn on 6 June scaling the cliffs with ropes and extendable ladders but not without heavy losses – 135 Rangers out of 225.  It took the full force of the commandos of the 116th Regiment of the US infantry, assisted by tanks, to subdue the German defences.  You can read more at my blog posting from 3 JANUARY 2010328 La pointe du Hoc334 La pointe du Hoc335 La pointe du Hoc332 La pointe du HocThe gaping craters and battered blockhouses give some idea of the intensity of the fighting.  A slim granite column on the edge of the cliff commemorates the battle.  337 La pointe du Hoc339 La pointe du Hoc342 La pointe du Hoc344 La pointe du Hoc348 La pointe du Hoc350 La pointe du HocOur last stop for the day was in La Cambe.  This is the final resting place for over 21,500 German soldiers who fell in the fighting of 1944.  You can read more about it on my previous posting from 22 MAY 2010351 Visitor's Center, German Military Cemetery, La Cambe352 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe354 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe355 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe356 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe357a German Military Cemetery, La Cambe357 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe358 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe361 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe365 German Military Cemetery, La Cambe366 German Military Cemetery, La CambeThe only photo I took on my brother’s final day was this one in my living room.  That morning I had to get up very early to take him to Caen to catch a Brittany Ferry for Portsmouth.  368 Last Day PhotoWe had a fantastic time together and I can’t wait for him to visit again. 

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