I left Paris early in the morning in late May 2019 and headed out on a day trip to see the WW2 beaches scattered along the Normandy coast. Our tour guide was a fountain of knowledge on the area, and it’s history dating back to William the Conquerer.
I had gathered an interest in seeing the area where the D-day invasion happened after being transfixed for hours back home watching old black and white footage on the History Channel.
In fact, by the time we arrived at Marineküstenbatterie (MKB) Longues-sur-Mer) (part of the Atlantic wall defenses) to start the tour, I was fizzing and charged towards the old pillboxes, much like the heroes who stormed the beaches which flanked the battery.
After taking the obligatory pictures of concrete bunkers and ship-sized naval guns (requisitioned from the Kriegsmarine), and holes made by really big shells, i learned that the area was defended by around 180 German soldiers, over half of them aged over 40.
Of great interest (to me anyway) was the artificial Mulberry harbours, used by the allied invasion force to transport supplies onto the coast. The day was still and warm, and the sea was the complete opposite of what lay in waiting for Allied troops on June 6, 1944.
We made our way through the charming story-book villages adorned with flags of servicemen (mostly U.S) who played their part in the liberation. Their smiling faces resurrected for the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord.
On reaching Omaha Beach, we ventured out on to its golden sands and was blown away by how normal the place felt. The beach could have been back in New Zealand, mostly deserted, save for some kids and their parents splashing in the waves.
In my mind, the whole place was in black and white, and I half expected to be welcomed by a plethora of memorials and battle-damaged wrecks. Instead, the area actually seemed to have an overwhelming sense of peace about it, almost like the ghosts had moved on.
The spirit chaser in me had other ideas, however. I pulled out the iPhone and made some recordings of general beach sounds, in a vain attempt to catch some kind of message from the afterlife.
Oddly enough I did seem to pick up a faint sound of airplane engine noise at the start of one recording. It was odd in the sense there were no aircraft (to my knowledge) in the vicinity of the beach at that time.
Playing it back, I’m convinced I can hear the noise of engines I would associate with ‘warbirds’. My guide could hear absolutely nothing, and neither could guests that I played the sound to on my radio show.
Perhaps it’s one of those Yanny v Laurel things.
On to Pointe Du Hoc (via a cider tasting session), where I took some pictures inside some more German bunkers, which were overrun by U.S Army Rangers who scaled its perilous cliffs. In one of the bunkers I snapped a picture, which on later examination appeared to show an image of a ghostly alien looking thing.
On further inspection, I think this was a classic case of pareidolia, and I was more than likely looking at a congealed fungus.
After visiting the Operation Overload museum (with 1000 Americans), and carrying bags full of keyrings and other tat, we made our way to a local cafe. Sitting opposite me was a man I could have sworn was the late, great, cop-turned-actor Dennis Farina.
Dennis was coincidently the host of the Unsolved Mysteries reboot that aired a few years before his death. I took some photos of the individual concerned, and convinced myself it was evidence for time -travel.
No better place for it really.