Normandy

choeur gothique

I really loved exploring this beautiful gothic abbey at Mont St. Michel in Lower Normandy, France. I love architecture, and this place was absolutely sublime! It is a certainty that I will one day revisit Mont St. Michel for a much longer explore, perhaps even making it an overnight stop.

Greater love hath no man than this…

During my tour of the battle sites around Normandy, France, I had the honor of visiting this beautiful 11th century Norman Church, in the village of Angoville.  My tour guide, one of the fine folks of Overlord Tours, told an amazing tale about the church’s WW II history.  During the D-Day invasion, the commanding officer of the 2/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) sent a Lieutenant, together with two medics, Privates Kenneth Moore and Robert Wright, to set up an aid station in this very church.  For three long days, fighting raged in and around Angoville, with most of the wounded, from both sides, being treated by the two Privates.  Three times, the church changed hands, but the Privates continued treating the wounded.  The first time the Germans recaptured Angoville they stormed the church.  Upon entering and finding American medics treating both Germans and Americans wounded in battle, the German commander ordered that the church and its occupants be left alone.  The Germans never entered the church again.

According to a brochure I found in the church, the church stands today as a “symbol of man’s humanity in the midst of man’s greatest horrors -war.  Eight men and one child found refuge in this church during those tumultuous days, and evidence of their suffering is still present today in the blood stained pews and bullet marks about the church.  After sixty years, the church remains virtually unchanged .”

Gunner, Shot, Tank!!! Fire!!!!

The Medium Tank (M4) was the primary tank produced by the USA for its own use, as well as that of the Allied Forces, during World War II.  Production of the M4 exceeded 50,000 units.  Interesting,y, the M4 was not dubbed the Sherman by U.S. forces, but rather by the United Kingdom, who named it after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.  The Brits regularly named its American-built tanks after famous American Civil War generals.  I found this Sherman tank at the impressive Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mère-Église.  By the way, if you look beyond the main gun, you’ll notice a church tower with a white parachute canopy hanging from it.  Some of you may recall the famous incident involving 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) paratrooper John Steele, whose chute caught upon spire of the church.  Steele hung there for two hours, watching the raging battle below, before he was captured by the Germans.  You can see a re-enactment of that incident in one of my favorite War movies, The Longest Day. Red Buttons played the role of John Steele.

Above all

This chapel, upon the hallowed grounds of the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France, above the beaches of Omaha, was one of the most beautiful chapels I had ever seen.  Because it was a very small space, and because of the circular architecture, I chose my fisheye lens to photograph it.

…beyond the call of duty

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

The American Cemetery, at Colleville-sur-Mer, France

 

(Creative Notes:  I shot this with the Nikon D700 and the Nikkor 28-300 F/3.5-5.6 G ED VR lens.  Post processed the image to the moving Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams.)

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