After a preparation of several months, here we are: 75th Anniversary of the landings in Normandy! Like every year, UNIVEM held its Dog Green Camp in the field next to the Vierville-sur-Mer castle. First vehicles went by road on the 27th May: Jeep, GMC CCKW, DUKW, and the International M425 with its trailer! Tents and sanitary facilities were then installed. Next days, other vehicles came by trucks: Half-Track, Scout-Car, Sherman tank,… but also a lot of Jeep on car carrier trailers!
The camp opened to the public on the 31st May and met great success thanks to the quality of the vehicles, the camp atmosphere but also the rides in Half-Track, Jeep or GMC.
The camp had an international dimension, with groups that came from a lot of countries: France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, Swede, Germany,…
June 2, a stock exchange took place in a nearby field, and brought with it a lot of visitors, but also a lot of collectors with some rare vehicles.
Big moment of the day: the presence of a veteran, Henri Breton, who participated in the Battle of the Bulge in the 3160th Signal Battalion. Emotion was deep for everyone.
June 3, a first convoy “On the traces of the 29th US Division” (split in two smaller convoys of thirty vehicles each, with a gap of one hour between each) was organised through the countryside. Several things were planed during the 50 kilometer route: Pointe du Hoc, German cemetery of La Cambe, lunch at the Castle of Colombière which was an American Headquarter in June 1944, Omaha Beach Memorial Museum, then comeback by the the Monument Signal which faces Omaha Beach.
To liven up some evening, movies were showed on a screen fixed on a GMC.
June 5, after a rest day another convoy “Our English friends”, was planed with several steps: Overlord Museum in Colleville-sur-Mer, Arromanches, Longues-sur-Mer Battery and finally the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer (unfortunately, this last step was cancelled due to too much public).
June 6, a small ceremony was held a 6:00 in front of Omaha Beach, and then, a human chain was formedon the beach, where thousands of men landed 75 year ago.
At 10:00, a big parade took place on the boulevard de Cauvigny, along the beach. Vehicles had to be prepared very early in the morning in order to cross the D514 road which separate the camp from the access to the beach, the road being closed to trafic from 6:00 due to security reasons because of all the Heads of States that came for the official ceremonies! A dozen of rare trucks from the Netherlands which came to the Dog Green Camp the day before made the initial convoy bigger and the 80 vehicles met a great success.
From 12:00, a concert was given by the History Swinger, an orchestra from Switzerland. In the afternoon, an American fanfare paraded along the beach. We even saw some planes in the sky, thanks to the official ceremonies that took place only some kilometers away: Patrouille de France and even a group of 13 Dakota!
June 7, a ceremony was held at the 29th US Division stele, with the presence of veterans.
Then, while the Sherman was doing a demo, Paul Wirth, a 2nd Armored Division veteran, who landed on the 6th June 1944 in Vierville-sur-Mer was passing by. So he was offered a ride on the Sherman. A highly emotional moment!
June 8, a commemoration took place at the First American Cemetery with the presence of several members and vehicles of UNIVEM and a convoy of… 200 Harley-Davidson!
June 9, last day for activities: head to Trévières for a ceremony at 11:30, then rides that were really appreciated by the public.
Back to the camp, dismantling of tents begins and some members are leaving. June 10: the convoy of Jeep, GMC CCKW, GMC DUKW and International M425 takes the road to Satory. Half-Tracks and the Sherman will be transported on a trailer next day. So ends this wonderful stay in Normandy celebrating the allied landings in 1944. This year had a particular meaning: it was probably the last big anniversary where the presence of veterans was possible… Bravo to the organisation and to Philippe and his team that managed to handle this in a masterly fashion. We can’t wait for the next event!
Thanks to Pierre, the photographer and Daniel for there pictures. Merci également à Pierre le photographe et Daniel pour leurs magnifiques clichés.
It is possible to find the ones from Daniel here: here.