The BBC and D-Day
The longest day event was dramatically presented by the television coverage, but a telephone call to a colonel’s widow who still lives in Barfleur in their retirement home some years after his death reminds me of a tale to tell.
Don had landed a few days after with his REME mobile workshop which was to follow the advancing tanks and to patch them up as they went. No sooner had they set up shop then off they went again just behind the great advance, providing the essential back up. Years later, Don’s personal tour of the various landing points gave us an unforgettable experience.
By chance, we were there when the citizens of Barfleur chose to honour him – one of their eldest newcomers – in the Place Republique just by the war memorial. M. le Maire publicly honoured the colonel in the midst of a small congregation in the shadow of the portside church. A shambolic procession to the Town Hall where toasts were exchanged, and Don with his limited French thanked one and all.
The Lloyds chose this quiet Normandy fishing port after years of NATO duties in Paris and Brussels. Their home being on board ‘Wyncliffe’ – a traditional Scottish fishing boat moored alongside the Place de la Concorde in the very heart of Paris. NATO’s move to Paris gave Judy and me an opportunity to travel with them along the Seine into the complicated canal system into Belgium. The good life on board didn’t, alas, work amidst the industrial wharves, so a commute into Southern Holland became necessary. Eventually making their way to Normandy for a retirement home with an extensive garden which Gill still battles with, set in a marshland setting exposed to wind, rain and sometimes hot sun; but handy for the village.
Don spent his last days in a hospice close by with extensive views across his beloved sea towards his homeland.