Archive for D Day

trip to the past

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2019 by xi'an

When visiting my mother for the Xmas break, she showed me this picture of her grand-father, Médéric, in his cavalry uniform, taken before the First World War, in 1905. During the war, as an older man, he did not come close to the front lines, but died from a disease caught from the horses he was taking care of. Two other documents I had not seen before were these refugee cards that my grand-parents got after their house in Saint-Lô got destroyed on June 7, 1944.

And this receipt for the tinned rabbit meat packages my grand-mother was sending to a brother-in-law who was POW in Gustrow, Germany, receipt that she kept despite the hardships she faced in the years following the D Day landing.

Juno Beach [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2019 by xi'an

La Rochambelle 2015 [10K – 38:28 – 73th & 4th V4]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2015 by xi'an

stade1Another year attending La Rochambelle, the massive women-only race or walk against breast cancer in Caen, Normandy! With the fantastic vision of 20,000 runners in the same pink tee-shirt swarming down-town Caen and the arrival stadium. Which made it quite hard to spot my three relatives in the race! I also ran my fourth iteration of the 10k the next day, from the British War Cemetery of Cambes-en-Plaine to the Memorial for Peace in Caen. The conditions were not as optimal as last year, especially in terms of wind, and I lost one minute on my total time, as well as one position, the third V2 remaining tantalisingly a dozen meters in front of me till the end of the race. A mix of too light trainings, travel fatigue and psychological conviction I was going to end up fourth! Here are my split times, with a very fast start that showed up in the second half near 4mn/km, when the third V2 passed me.

cambes

20,000 pink ladies [10k: 37’26”, 43rd & 3rd V2]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2014 by xi'an

caen44

This year was a special year for the races of Les Courants de la Liberté, in Caen, as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing on the nearby D-Day beaches. The number of women running the Rochambelle race/walk against breast cancer was raised this year to 20,000 participants, an impressive pink wave riding the streets of Caen, incl. my wife, mother and mother-in-law! And even one of the 1944 Rochambelle nurses attending the start and finish of the race!

While I had no particular expectation for the 10k race, it went on so well that I ended up with my best time ever on this distance (my previous record was in Ottawa in July…1989!). The weather was perfect, cool and cloudy with a tailwind most of the way. (The low intensity training in Edinburgh and the Highlands may have helped.) I had a bit of an issue at the beginning passing the first rows of runners who were clearly in the wrong league but stuck with a runner most of the race, which helped with the middle hardest k’s (with a maximal 3:58 on the 8th k!), and  finished by motivating another V2 to keep up with, very glad to see my finish time. I actually ended up 3rd V2 just ahead of two other runners from this category, but there is no podium or reward for this in this race, given the large number of races to accommodate (ultra-trail of D-Day beaches, marathon, half-marathon, 10k, rollers, kids,…)

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June 7, 1944

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2014 by xi'an

[I wrote this post a few years ago, but the 70th anniversary of the D-day brought back those memories and I thought it worth re-posting…]

This is the day I almost got un-born, not that I was born at the time (!) but my mother, then almost seven, came close to dying under the Allied bombs that obliterated Saint-Lô (Manche, western France) from the map that night, in conjunction with the D Day landing in the nearby beaches of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. (The city was supposed to be taken by the end of June 6, but it was only on July 19 that Allied troops entered Saint-Lô.) Most of the town got destroyed under 60,000 pounds of bombs in an attempt by the Allied forces to cut access to the beaches from German reinforcements from Brittany. (Saint-Lô got the surname of “capital of the ruins” from Samuel Beckett after this bombing and it took many years to reconstruct.) My granparents and their three daughters barely went out of their house before it collapsed and had to flee the ablaze Saint-Lô with a single cartwheel to carry two suitcases and the three girls. Several times did my grandfather hide them under his leather jacket for power lines were collapsing around them…
They eventually (and obviously) made it alive out of Saint-Lô, only to be rounded up with other refugees by German troops who parked them in a field, most likely to be used as hostages. Taking advantage of the night, my grandfather managed once again to get his family away by crawling under the barriers on the darkest side of the field and they then reached (by foot) a most secluded village in the countryside where my great-grandmother was living at the time. From when I was a child, I have heard this story so many times from my mother that it is almost pictured in my brain, as if I had seen the “movie”, somehow.

June 7, 1944

Posted in Kids with tags , , on June 6, 2009 by xi'an

This is the day I almost got un-born, not that I was born at the time (!) but my mother, then almost seven, came close to dying under the Allied bombs that obliterated Saint-Lô (Manche, western France) from the map that night, in conjunction with the D Day landing in the nearby beaches of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. (The city was supposed to be taken by the end of June 6, but it was only on July 19 that Allied troops entered Saint-Lô.) Most of the town got destroyed under 60,000 pounds of bombs in an attempt by the Allied forces to cut access to the beaches from German reinforcements from Brittany. (Saint-Lô got the surname of “capital of the ruins” from Samuel Beckett after this bombing and it took many years to reconstruct.) My granparents and their three daughters barely went out of their house before it collapsed and had to flee the ablaze Saint-Lô with a single cartwheel to carry two suitcases and the three girls. Several times did my grandfather hide them under his leather jacket for power lines were collapsing around them…
They eventually (and obviously) made it alive out of Saint-Lô, only to be rounded up with other refugees by German troops who parked them in a field, most likely to be used as hostages. Taking advantage of the night, my grandfather managed once again to get his family away by crawling under the barriers on the darkest side of the field and they then reached (by foot) a most secluded village in the countryside where my great-grandmother was living at the time. From when I was a child, I have heard this story so many times from my mother that it is almost pictured in my brain, as if I had seen the “movie”, somehow.