Friday, April 13, 2007

PLYNKES AND SICKLY'S NORMANDY LANDING

Well Sickly has recently uncovered some heretofore unknown snapshots of one of his and Plynkes' earlier top-secret missions to the continent. So Plynkes swiftly confiscated them and decided to publish them on his blog. They pertain to an enterprise that we undertook in the Year Four, before the Breton Undertaking that has previously been documented here.

British Naval Intelligence tasked us with investigating a disturbing French secret project. Strange objects had been seen in the skies over Normandy. It was our job to find out what those scheming Froggies were up to.

(Clicking on some of the pics will give a bigger version. On others it won't. Why not let's make a game of it, eh?, rather than moaning about it. Might be fun to find out which get bigger and which don't. Also most of these shots were taken by Sickly on his little disposable, so the quality ain't always of the best. Never mind, eh? Can't have everything.)

Our first stop after crossing the briney to Ouistreham was at Pegasus Bridge. Here we immediately encountered a strange object in the sky. However briefly, we spotted the new top-secret French Aeronef. What manner of a thing could it be? We would have to delve deeper into the Norman countryside to find out...

(Seriously, we have no idea what the hell that is. Any ideas?)

The much-renowned Café Gondrée, famous to today's youth for its appearance in the video game "Call of Duty" (2003). I think something important also happened here in 1944. No photo of Pegasus Bridge itself, Sickly? Nice going, you bloody idiot!

The church at Ste-Mère-Eglise. Poor old John Steele of the 82nd Airborne. Those French ingrates still haven't cut the unfortunate fellow down, though Madame Dubois does take lunch up to him every sunday.

An American tank in the Cotentin, unsuccessfully attempting to intimidate the French into joining the Coalition of the Willing.

Some kind of Jerry gun at Utah Beach. On the extreme right looking rather cool in denim is Plynkes. Somewhat unfortunately the camera has caught him in a pose which makes it appear that he is interfering with himself. Actually he is reading a plaque all about US Navy ships. Well the judge believed it, so why shouldn't you?


Pointe-du-Hoc. Plynkes, again looking dashing, is pictured here contemplating the article he has promised to write for German Architecture Today Magazine.

Hmmm...

"Following on from the Deutscher Werkbund movement and the Bauhaus, came the Festung Europa style, which was very popular in continental Europe during the 40s."

This sign amused us no end, prohibiting as it did camping and picnicking beyond the barbed wire. What is not immediately obvious from the picture is that about one foot from the fence is the cliff edge. Oh, how we laughed at that one.

Omaha Beach. Enough said, really. We've all seen that film. And Sickly himself makes his first appearance in these pictures. Doesn't he look wee? Well it was the Year Four. He's grown a lot since then.

Still Omaha Beach. More of that delightful Festung Europa architecture for my magazine article.


Here Sickly reconstructs what would in all likelihood have happened if General Eisenhower had sent Plynkes and Sickly to capture Omaha, rather than the US 1st Infantry Division.

A German 352nd Division's-eye-view of Omaha. Frankly it doesn't look any more appetising than a US 1st Infantry Division's-eye-view to me.

These odd-looking memorials are everywhere in Normandy.

The US cemetery on the bluffs above Omaha. I've been to many such places and frankly, I'm sick of them. They are almost unbearable to visit. There are always more graves than you can count. So many. But you have to go. You just do. It would be a disservice to those men not to.

The Longues Battery. Duelled with French, American and Royal Navy cruisers on D-Day (including, I believe, HMS Ajax, of the Battle of the River Plate fame). Is that a 150mm gun in your bunker, or are you just pleased to see me?

The highlight of the trip for both Sickly and Plynkes. A drawing at Longues-sur-Mer of a horse with a big winkie. Tee-hee-hee!

The forward OP at Longues, as seen in the film "The Longest Day."

A Jerry's-eye-view from the same. Achtung Sickly! Feuer!

We had some fun at Longues with a German film crew making some kind of documentary (it was after all, the Year Four, so an anniversary year). They kept trying to Shush! us, and then Shoo! us, so their man could do his piece to camera. But we weren't having any of it. We baited them with comments about them still thinking they ran the place, and other stupid things along those lines. Childish? Yes. Rude? Yes. Fun? Definitely!

The Bayeux museum. An M-10, is it? Not quite up to speed on me Tank-Destroyers, I must own.

Um, I said I wasn't up to speed on Tank-Destroyers and you go and give me another bugger. Um... A Hetzer? Is that right?

Ah, I know this one. A Churchill of some description with one of them fancy-ass bunker-busting guns, of that I am fairly sure.

Having totally failed to uncover any more evidence of French flying saucers, we decided to spend our last afternoon in Normandy at the beach.

Sickly's subtle protest about his school history teacher Mr. "Hitler did a lot of good things" Smith. Like Plynkes, Sickly is a craven coward, so organised his protest on a foreign beach, hundreds of miles from his school. Good lad.

The traditional British beach passtime of castle-building. Do foreigners do it too? Not sure.

Actually, it's more of a sand neolithic-temple-complex than a castle, but it's all good. Mostly Sickly's work, but Plynkes helped a bit.
(The keen-eyed will spot a couple of remnants of the famous Mulberry Harbour in the background.)

The other age-old British beach passtime, the Sand-Winkie! So far we have left them in Normandy, Brittany and Cardigan Bay. Always great fun, especially watching the locals' reactions to them.

Ah, the cross of Lorraine. Plynkes feels rather conflicting emotions regarding this symbol. On the one hand we have the gallant Free French, and that nifty song from "Escape to Victory:"

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

Aux Armes, Citoyens!
Formez vos Bataillons!
Marchons! Marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!

Hurrah! Vive La France! Etc...

On the other hand it is something of a Gaullist symbol. Boo! Hiss! Come on, Foxy, my son! Get him! Call yourself a top assassin?

Hmm. I never did like the ending to "Day of the Jackal." Oh well. Never mind, eh?


***

Finally we have a pic not at all related to our Norman trip, but it was found amongst the Normandy pictures and I really like it. Very moody. Sickly looks like some Viking from an Icelandic saga, or somebody from Die Nibelungen having a thoroughly miserable Teutonic time of it. Or perhaps some kind of 9th Century Barnes Wallis or Guy Gibson, bristling with ill-will for the dam he is posing in front of.


1 comment:

Merlin Douglas Larsen (a k a "the Mad") said...

Thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks for taking the time to blog such a fun set of piccies and commentary. I have a soft spot for Normandy: the beaches of WW2, but especially Bayeux: I have seen the Tapestry, but missed out on all the D-Day stuff ::sniff:: You've helped me make up for that at least a little bit.