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Showing posts from November, 2005

Windy Day at Angel's Rest

I went back out to the Columbia River Gorge for another hike. Not having any particular place in mind I took the first exit to old highway 30 and looked for a hike I hadn't done before. Immediately I came upon Angel's Rest and favorite of my friend Shyam at work. He and his family hike extensively and Redington and I met them in the gorge once a few years ago.

This Google Earth shows you where the hike takes you on top of the gorge. (Click photo to enlarge)

Angel's Rest from Google Earth

The drive out was one of the windiest in memory. You can see in the next photo the whitecaps in the Columbia river. The wind was whipping water off the wave tops where they would drift as gossamer rainbows in the afternoon sun.

The hike is about 2 1/2 miles and winds up through the trees. At first the wind wasn't too apparent.

Near the top though the gusts were reaching 40 miles per hour. Dead trees were swaying from side to side leaving me wondering if they would snap. The wind created an…

Normandy: Visiting Redington at his new home in the UK

The week of Oct 24th I went over to the UK to visit Redington during his Autumn break. His school is year round and he has three extra one week breaks scattered through out the year. I was anxious to see how he was getting on and very excited at the prospect of seeing him again.

This is the first of a set of seven posts on our Normandy trip. I apologize for the length. We did a lot in one day. I hope you find it interesting.

For the vacation Redington suggested we visit Normandy and see the D-Day beaches and museums. He is a huge military history buff. The days before the visit I had bought a copy of Stephen Ambrose's D-DAY. Redington began reading chapters on the way to Normandy. He would finish the book by the end of the trip. It provided some illuminating context for our travels. As you will see we visited exactly places described in the book and read stories from both the defenders and attackers what happened in that exact location.

Redington lives north of London in the town of …

Normandy: The Pegasus Bridge

We rose early in the morning in Abbeville for another 2 hour drive to our first destination in Normandy. This was the Pegasus bridge. This bridge was on the Eastern flank of the invasion and would serve as the pivot for invasion forces as they swung to the north. Holding the bridge was crucial to prevent the Germans from flanking the invasion. A group of English commandos flew in via gliders. They landed in a field nearby and successfully captured and defended the bridge until reinforcements came from Sword beach. This operation was one of the few operations that went as planned on D-day.

The bridge over a canal was a counter weighted draw bridge. It has since been replaced with a larger version and moved to the neaby site of the museum. This area is near the city of Caen on the map below.

Map of Normandy

Here we see part of the bridge's enormouse counter weight behind the Bofur's gun used by the British troops.

The bridge's counterweight

Here is Redington walking on the bridge…

Normandy: German Radar at Douvres

After the Pegasus bridge we drove to a German radar installation at Douvre de Delivirande between Caen and the coast. The exhibit was closed but from outside the fence you could see the rather sophisticated German equipment. While British radar played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain, German radar technology was much more advanced. You can learn more about the history of radar at this link.

Radar Dish at Douvre

A bunker to protect the troops stationed here.

Mobile Radar equipment

Normandy: Sword, Juno, and Gold Beaches

After visiting Douvre we drove toward the beach. This was eastern flank of the invasion so we were in the area of Sword beach. From east to west the beaches were named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. They were fought by nations in this order repectively, English, Canadian, English, US, US.

The first town we encountered was Saint Aubin sur Mer, a small French resort town. Though the weather was not spectacular and it was out of season there were a few people out enjoying the day on the beach. Families exploring tide pools, children digging in the sand, people in wind driven sail-carts. This was Sword beach that in 1944 was smothered in furious noise, fear, and carnage. The contrast must strike everyone one and as Eisenhower said in some similar location 20 years after the invasion this was what they fought for, peaceful, civil, mundane, life.

The seawall at Sword Beach Saint Aubin sur Mer

Here there wasn't much evidence of the war except a small monument at the parking lot and thi…

Normandy: The Guns of Longue sur Mer

After Arromanches we headed to the popular German battery at Longues sur Mer. Protected on a high bluff over the ocean it consisted of four 5-inch guns with an observation post for directing fire, and numerous defensive facilities. Much of its effectiveness was disrupted by allied bombing that severed the communications between the obeservation post and the batteries themselves.

This Google Earth image shows the imposing layout of the defenses and gives some perspective. (click to enlarge)

Longue sur Mer as seen from Google Earth

I also dug up from the web an old plan of the original layout (in French) showing mine fields (mines), barbed wire (barbelas), trenches (tranchees), tobruks (tobrouk), shelters (abris), and munitions storage (soutes).

Original Longue Battery plan

Here is a small excert from Stephen Ambrose's D-Day about Longue.

Excerpt from D-day about the Longue battery

Here is the layout of the four guns of Longues as Redington I visited them.

The concrete was barely touched by…