Tag Archives: 70th anniversary

Le Mémorial Pegasus: Hitler’s Christmas Card to Sir Donald Bailey

All the artifacts and memorabillia comes from veterans, relatives and military institutions.
All the artifacts and memorabilia comes from veterans, relatives and military institutions.

At Le Mémorial Pegasus, all the artifacts and memorabilia is donated by veterans, relatives and military institutions. The photographs are generously provided by the Imperial War Museum in London.

Although there is plenty to examine, on entering the museum you don’t feel overwhelmed by its contents. It’s well displayed and easy to understand. And just before I leave, I’m shown Hitler’s signed Christmas card to Sir Donald Bailey.

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The card wishes Sir Donald Bailey a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” and was discovered by Jacques Hale, editor of Christchurch’s University of the Third Age magazine. It’s now on display in the grounds of the Pegasus Bridge Museum and fits in nicely with the museum’s section on the Bailey Bridge.

The museum’s British director, Mark Worthington, does not know its origins and suspects it was an attempt to wind up the British.

The card was supposedly dropped off by the Luftwaffe in 1941 on the Experimental Bridging Establishment!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to get my forensic science kit out to determine its authenticity.

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Le Mémorial Pegasus: Bernard and Fay Robins

Bernard and Fay Robins
Bernard and Fay Robins

Meet Bernard and Fay Robins. I met the couple during a visit to the Mémorial Pegasus.

I have received emails this year from Bernard and Fay, who run a private “Para” project. Inspired by a family connection, in 2002 the couple decided to pay tribute to the Para killed in the Second World War. Both Bern and Fay share war grave photos of the Parachute Regiment.

They have taken details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission about these individuals so that relatives and friends can access information about them worldwide. By June 2013, they had photos of all but the 15 graves in Marseilles.

The couple have had some success in finding men who were missing and killed between 1942 and 1947. Bernard and Fay believe it is of the utmost importance to keep the memory of these brave men alive and I admire them for this.

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The Gold Beach bunker

A couple of nights ago, Maggie and I drove through Arromanches before we noticed the most spectacular sunset. Despite the cold, Maggie pulled over and we managed to take a few snaps for you to look through.

While photographing this amazing sky, we found a bunker only feet away!

Last year, a local woman told me that when she was young she and her friends were told stories about how teenage boys would go diving off the shores of Arromanches to retrieve alcohol that sunk to the seafloor on D-Day!

Longues-sur-Mer battery

Last year, Kate and I visited Longues-sur-Mer with an American tour group. Just outside of Arromanches enroute to Bayeux, if you’re in the area, stop off to take a look for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

I’d done some research about the battery and so I was excited to be going. Longues-sur-Mer battery was built as part of the German Atlantic Wall and boasts four massive navy guns – a very impressive sight. The scale of the guns really brought home the terror and destruction that they could cause. Each of the guns are protected by a 3-metre thick concrete casemate and has its own command post, shelters for personnel and ammunition storage.

This battery was a coastal fortification that had hardly been damaged by the allied bombing prior to D-Day. Looking at the thick concrete, it’s not hard to understand why. Being still intact when D-Day arrived, Longues-sur-Mer wrecked havoc on Omaha and Gold beach.

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