Jeeping in Normandy

There were numerous introspective moments for John Carroll during the commemorations on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

French registered Jeeps

80th ANNIVERSARY

Nailed on the wall inside my shed is a load of those quasi-American D-Day licence plates that date back to 1994. This means I have been visiting Normandy for at least 30 years in various Jeeps, some of which would be more popular with military vehicle enthusiasts than others, but were always driven from northern England to the ferry in Portsmouth. Inevitably, whatever I write now is influenced by those previous visits on both ‘big’ anniversaries and other years.

Undoubtedly the biggest – and most poignant – change is that the passage of time means the number of veterans has dwindled to the point where the Normandy campaign is on the verge of passing out of living memory. By comparison, at the 50th anniversary, Queen Elizabeth II came to Arromanches and, under the auspices of the Normandy Veterans Association, hundreds of veterans who saw her as one of their own marched onto the sand and formed up in front of her. It remains one of the bravest things I have ever seen.

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