Friday, October 30, 2015

Calvados and beyond

While in Rome ... my s-in-law's application of this is to buy the local products, including the brandy.   Peter spotted a small war graves cemetery at the same time Judy spotted a sign for Clavados at a farm gate.  It was our lucky day, the driveway to the farm was beside the cemetery.  

You can see the farm where the clavados is produced in the background of the tiny cemetery below.  It is the smallest in Normandy containing 47 British, one Czech and one unidentified grave. 


A sign erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission explained the cemetery is undergoing an upgrade, hence the dead grass. 



The next day we visited the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Bayeux, where there are 4,648 burials, mostly from the Invasion of Normandy.  Most were British but there are also Canadians, Polish, Czech and about 400 are German.  Opposite the cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which commemorates more than 1,800 Commonwealth forces who died in Normandy and have no known grave.  In a weird way it has a look of an English garden, with pretty flowers and immaculate lawns.  There is not religious symbolism, its a place to simply reflect on the fallen. 


Maybe it's the simplicity of the layout that evoked such an emotional response in me.  I don't think anyone could spend time there and not feel the sadness.  The three of us, without any discussion, wandered off in three different directions, each lost in our own thoughts.  From a school sports field not far away there was the occasional sounds of young, enthusiastic, happy voices.  There could not have been a better sound track, a poignant reminder of the youth of many of the dead.  


Headstones carry the persons name and are engraved with their cap badges. Many headstones have family inscriptions to their loved ones.  Even the graves of unknown soldiers have the simple but beautiful inscription of "Known unto God." 


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tend the cemetery beautifully.  Perhaps a better word is reverently.



Earlier in the day we had visited the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy.  I found this to be a bit heavy going although I do think it is an outstanding museum telling the storiy of the D-Day cross-channel attack and the series of battles in the two months following.  A movie (English and French versions play at different times) brings to life the course of the invasion and following operations.  It was difficult to take photos with all the reflections because of the exhibits behind glass.


 

A contrast of technologies between the above and the below.  I wonder how much notice these two were taking of their surroundings and if they learned anything. 

5 comments:

  1. One of the inescapable things one notices in France is the huge number of war grave cemeteries everywhere. They should act as a reminder of man's inhumanity to man and be a lesson for us all but, sadly, we never seem to learn. Oradur-sur-Glane is, for me, possibly the ultimate in such reminders.

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  2. Graham has expressed my sentiments perfectly. I was about to write similar words.

    We never learn...and that is such a sad, sad thing. I often wonder if humans do wish to learn and improve....

    You've captured the mood through your photos, Pauline...and the reverent silence that surrounds..

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  3. A place for quiet and sadness. As for learning, if we had, we wouldn't still be warring now.

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  4. Visiting war cemeteries certainly jolts us to the reality of the horrors that took place.

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  5. Lets hope they were researching what they were looking at or taking photos.

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