Postcard from... Normandy


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The Independent Online

Normandy has been invaded. Every time you turn a bend, you almost run into a military vehicle. Some are smart new French armoured cars. Most are old American jeeps and trucks, driven by Dutch or Swiss enthusiasts.

For several days, the sky has been full of different types of aircraft practising for tomorrow’s D-Day celebrations. A Spitfire flew over my little house in the hills yesterday – at least I am pretty sure it was a Spitfire. I spent part of my childhood mis-assembling Airfix kits of World War Two aircraft. There will be up to 10,000 official visitors, in addition to 3,500 journalists, at today’s “international commemorative event” at Ouistreham (Sword Beach). This is almost exactly half the number of British (and a few French) soldiers who came ashore there 70 years ago.

The D-Day anniversary coincides with another piece of news concerning our Norman cousins and invasions: and it is one that is even older.

Under President François Hollande’s plans to redraw the political map of France – to reduce bureaucracy and save money – Normandy is set to be governed as one unit for the first time since William the Conqueror’s Duchy of Normandy was itself conquered by the French  810 years ago.