Day 5 - The German and American cemeteries, the Ranger Museum and Pointe du Hoc. Approximately 35 kilometers.
Day 5 was packed with a lot of activity, so we didn’t do a lot of riding (only about 35 km). We started the day with a van ride from our hotel outside Bayeux to La Cambe, the site of the German cemetery.
This cemetery was actually an American cemetery until 1947. The sign in front of the cemetery testifies to this fact. On it reads:
“The German Cemetery at La Cambe: In the Same Soil of France
Until 1947, this was an American cemetery. The remains were exhumed and shipped to the United States. It has been German since 1948, and contains over 21,000 graves. With its melancholy rigour, it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. They too have found rest in our soil of France.”
The German cemetery and the American one (now in the vicinity of Omaha Beach) are very sobering places. They represent the very real cost of war in more quantifiable terms. And yet, despite these reminders of such horrible events, wars continue to be fought. If there is a bright spot in all of this, it is the community of lomographers from around the world who want nothing more than to share their respective cultures with the rest of the world. In short, I believe that people don’t want to kill eachother, they want to share their experiences – what’s best about their town, their lives, their heritage. Lomography is living proof of this.
After the German cemetery, the van transferred us to Grandcamp-Maisy, where we would begin riding after a brief stop at the Musee des Rangers, where we saw a film about the rangers who scaled the cliff at Pointe du Hoc.
Now it was time to ride on to Pointe du Hoc to view the German bunkers overlooking the American landing sites at Omaha Beach.
Some of these bunkers had been destroyed in Allied bombing raids, yet others appeared largely intact.
Next, we rode to Omaha beach where we stopped for lunch before continuing to the American cemetery, finishing what was a very emotional day, before riding back to the hotel.
For some wonderful photos of the American cemetery and Ste-Mere Eglise done in infrared, you should check out the wonderful French lomographer @realrampage. They are located at the following link:
Also, while you are there check out all his other photos. I think you will enjoy them very much.
After spending a day looking at so many graves, my wife and I were sufficiently depressed and decided (in the ultimate test of nearly 24 years of marriage) to go back to the hotel early on our own. We thought it would be nice to go at a more leisurely pace and stop and take photographs. Of course we hadn’t even left the cemetery and I got us immediately lost! Fortunately, we were able to quickly get back on our route, I admitted being wrong (yes I know it’s hard to believe – me being wrong that is), and now we still plan on celebrating our 24th anniversary of wedded bliss. Oh, and we got some nice photographs too.