WW2 75th Anniversary - seeking suggestions for March / April 2020 in Western Europe

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by DaveB, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Pretty much as per the title, I am booked to spend March & April in Europe - for the first few weeks I have a place to stay in the Normandy region. I will be visiting some sights / sites that I missed the last time I was over there and just generally touring around on day trips.

    I haven't thought past that and I was hoping to be able to attend some sort of 75th anniversary thing, but by then most of the liberation was in Germany itself and I don't know if they're big on celebrating it all.

    A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be in London for ANZAC day (25 April) and I wangled tickets for Westminster Abbey services with Will & Harry (& Meaghan).

    I wonder if anywhere in WE would have enough of an interest in ANZAC day - i suppose that the WW1 battlefields would make more sense.

    For March 2020 so far I have:

    7 March 1945 - Remagen / Ludendorff Bridge / the US Army also takes Cologne, Germany

    20 March 1945 - Patton's troops capture Mainz, Germany

    22-23 March 1945 - US and British forces cross the Rhine at Oppenheim

    24 March 1945 - Operation Varsity, an Anglo-American-Canadian assault under Montgomery crossed the Rhine at Wesel

    April 2020 ???
    CL1 likes this.
  2. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    If you don't mind heading back across the border DaveB maybe look into visiting The Netherlands.

    Many places there (e.g. Arnhem) will be commemorating liberation in April.

    Kind regards, always,

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  3. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    April 2020: Belsen Liberation
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    April 2020: Belsen Liberation - hmmm, I will put that on the list of possibilities

    The Netherlands sounds like a good idea - Arnhem etc might work out as I'm looking at staying near the border
    CL1 likes this.
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Might be worth seeing if anything will be happening in the Channel Islands. Close to Normandy so you could do a day trip by ferry, English speaking and one of the last places to be liberated. Nice to visit in any case.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    A visit to the Arnhem area can easily be combined with the Rhine Crossing sites at Wesel & Xanten and Rees!

    If you are looking for a local guide, I know one ... ;)
    CL1 likes this.
  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Cheers Robert - I might pop over to the Channel Islands, they should be interesting.

    Thanks Stolpi - I will keep your suggestion / offer in mind. I am sorting out where I'm staying while I'm over there then I will overlay that with how far away the things I want to do are and if they can be achieved as day trips or overnight stays etc.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I wonder what happened to DaveB .
    Not been here since March 10th.
    DaveB likes this.
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    .. have not heard of him either ... caught in the lock down I suppose :blank:
    DaveB likes this.
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Hope he's not stuck abroad, funds running out, hotels closing and desperately waiting for a government rescue
    DaveB likes this.
  11. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hmmm, sorry all

    I made it across to France where I was booked to stay on a horse farm not far from Villers-Bocage for a few weeks then over to Germany for a few more weeks then back around through the Alsace region into France before flying home. None of the plans were that rock solid but were coming together as the dates came closer.

    I was operating off my laptop which was relatively slow & clunky plus getting the internet / phone plan I needed took a bit longer then I was expecting to get sorted. I had a week or so of driving around the Normandy countryside and into Caen & Bayeux to photograph some war graves I had missed the previous time I was over there.

    But then C-19 joined the party with gradual restrictions on museum openings etc and then inter-country travel until eventually all non-essential travel within the country was banned so my Renault PoS rental car was just sitting there idle while I wandered around the farm.

    I only got stung a few hundred US$ to move my flight booking forward to the 20th of March at 0700 to Doha then direct to Adelaide - I stayed the night before in the world's daggiest airport motel (IBIS CDG). I ran out of time to refuel the car and then by the time I got lost getting to the rental car return at CDG time was short so I dumped the keys on the driver's seat (*), grabbed my crap and bolted down to the check-in area.

    To find I was the only person checking in, I thought I had missed the flight but apparently the other passengers to Doha had already gone through all of the check-in rigmarole. Then the nice lady asked me in broken English why I was travelling to Doha, I replied that I was only passing through there on my way to Adelaide in South Australia

    No I wasn't - that onward flight had been cancelled but I hadn't been informed and no alternate plan had been made. After getting a couple of supervisors involved and a few frantic internal phone calls being made I was placed on a connector to Melbourne and then a few hours to wait before I could catch a shuttle to Adelaide. But in between landing and leaving Melbourne I had to gather my checked bags, clear customs & quarantine and get across to the domestic terminal and check-in again etc.

    I eventually got back to Adelaide, but as I do not have a domicile I am renting a nice apartment via AirBnB while keeping myself in isolation and trying to stop from going stir-crazy.

    Stay tuned for the next installment in Dave's daft dalliances

    (*) what about the rental car you say. I sent the company (Keddy - a subsidiary of Europcar) a couple of emails to keep them informed of what I going to do without any response received by the time I dropped the car off at CDG

    A day or two after I got home my CC was billed AU$66 which I surmised was for filling it with fuel, but which also indicated to me that they had accepted the vehicle back. My original booking was for 2 months at a monthly rate but as I dropped it back after only 20 days I was pleasantly surprised to eventually be billed about AU$700 which works out to 20 times a reasonable daily rate.
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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    To have had a real WW2 experience trip you should have driven to a beach, dumped the car there along with any baggage and waded out to a fishing boat.:smug:
    DaveB likes this.
  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Hi Dave - Sorry to hear your trip to Europe fell through ... but it is good to hear that you made it back (just) in time ... without catching a virus I hope.

    Wish you more luck next time.
    DaveB likes this.
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for the update.
    Good to read you made it back to Oz.
    DaveB likes this.
  15. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Thanks Robert, that actually gave me a rare chuckle (*). And thanks to all for caring - it actually feels good.

    In between the rushing around, the uncertainty in getting back here, the jetlag, then getting some accommodation organised followed by two weeks of self-isolation with it's inherent boredom & lack of freedom of movement I am struggling to sleep like a normal person. I'm pretty much like a vampire at the moment, up all night then sleeping all day.

    Which is why I chose to rent a place to stay by myself for at least a month - I could have stayed locally with family but all they need at this time is Bigfoot crashing around their house at 3AM

    With this setup I can turn all the lights on, make a cup of tea and play on the internet until I get tired enough to try to fall asleep again.

    (*) Put your tin hats on - war story follows:

    I have already had the last days of Saigon experience when my tour was up in Afghanistan. Myself & my Corporal had been operating a detachment at Tarin Kot (our parent unit was in Kuwait) for the previous 6 months but transport aircraft were reluctant to land in late February as the dirt strip was freezing overnight, then thawing out and turning muddy each morning. This morning we were promised a RAAF Hercules at first light, only to be greeted by the sight of our aircraft doing a flyover at the last moment.

    Luckily enough our mate from the Australian Army MCO and his Dutch counterpart were there to see us off - and on the other side of the strip a Dutch bug-smasher (twin engine turbo-prop 10 seater) was starting it's engines to get out of there before the sun hit the rest of the strip and turned it all to slush. They sprinted across the strip, while we half-heartedly sauntered behind (carrying about 3 tons of gun, ammo, body armour & the last of our personal kit), they had a quick word to the aircraft Captain (in Dutch, obviously) and waved us in while waggling two fingers (two minutes). To further set the scene, at the time I was in my mid 40s, not very fit and slightly overweight with Troy being half my age - I think we made it there in a dead-heat. We threw ourselves aboard in a shower of mud (with a bit of pushing / dragging from the crew), the door was shut and they commenced taxi. We had 60 seconds or so to don our helmets, make sure our body armour was actually on properly and clear our weapons before being thrown into seats and strapped in. By which time we were on take-off roll. (Next thrilling installment - Dave & Troy make it to Kandahar - still in Afghanistan)

    (Ironically our replacements arrived a few days prior to this - until then it had been my job to manage the movement of freight / passengers out of TK)

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