07 July 2011
Another early rising before a day of travelling, one by one all 25 participants turned up in the dining hall to make their sandwich for lunch, as we would be out all day.
Leading up to the exchange the Southend participants have been meeting once a week to conduct research and prepare resources for the trip. One of the things we looked into was Southend’s connection to World War 2 and the role that it played during the D-Day landings.
Today we travelled to Caen Normandy memorial centre for history and peace, to find out more about pre, during and post war, but also to understand further the context behind the history of CORE. (More on this to follow)
When we arrived in Caen we were struck by the enormity and symbolism of the building, and the 15 flags outside, of different nationalities. Presented with audio handsets to guide us around the museum (like a personal tour guide) we ventured into the first section that explained the context leading up to WW2.
As we walked around one thing that really struck a chord with me was the enormity of the loss of life, the atrocity of the events that took place and I learnt more about boats docking from Southend Pier (then HMS Westcliff) during the D-Day landings. There were personal accounts from survivors of concentration camps recalling their experiences that brought out a lot of emotions.
By the time we broke for a picnic lunch outside the museum, the fresh air was much appreciated, as what we had discovered was a lot to take in.
Shortly after we visited a British Commonwealth cemetery with thousands of graves.
‘I couldn’t believe that the average age (from what we could tell) was about 21, but I saw a few that had men as young as 17, all the boys who have come to France would have been fighting on the front line’. (Andy Williamson, Southend participant)
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