After a great night sleep I set off excited by the journey ahead; and to finish by seeing my friends at their house close to Bournemouth where I am currently staying (thanks Bonnie and Steve! – you have fed me well).
Today was a day of being attacked by wasps: I was stung at the top of my chest when one flew into me, another bounced off my eye just after I managed to close it in time and another wouldn’t leave me alone at lunch!
I was in Cambridge the day before I started this trip; Hitler wanted to make Cambridge the centre of his empire, therefore it was spared of any air raids and hence suffered no bomb damage. These thoughts reminds me that my late Nana (on my mother’s side) spent some of her time during the war stationed in Cambridge as part of the WRAF (Women’s Royal Air Force). I remember that she used to point out things she remembered around the town as she mentioned she was stationed in St. John’s College. I wish she were around to witness me doing this trip too.
I managed to stop for an early lunch in Winchester, which used to be the capital of England many years ago. I visited the gorgeous cathedral there, despite the £8 entry fee. Stopping for a late lunch (yes that’s two lunches!) in Ringwood, I managed to get a lock that was a quarter of the weight of my one (thanks Mike from the shop who will hopefully read this – tweet me!); also I replaced the battery in my speedometer so I now know how fast I am going.
D-Day boats crossed the channel from ports across the south coast close to where I am. Mine clearing over the channel and paratroopers above land were sent in the night ahead of the boats and infantry. Many regrouped in Carentan where I hope to reach tomorrow. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to hold it together the night before of heading into enemy territory. I am nervous about cycling around it, let alone being shot at!
The allies also set aside many deception tactics to confuse the Nazis. Feeding snippets of information to the Germans about a seriously big attack towards Calais; this caused many enemy resources to be sent away from the actual landing spots in Normandy. Dummy boats and tanks were inflated in Kent to fool enemy aircraft. I even heard a story that a fake soldier’s body was floated across the channel with documents and a briefcase to indicate this fake landing. Phoney radio transmissions were set up to pretend like a large army was being mobilised elsewhere. This mis-information was so impressive that Hitler was supposedly not woken when the D-Day started as the Germans thought it was a diversion from the real attack. Resources were not even sent to the Normandy area for quite some time.
Personally I am looking forward to the ferry tomorrow morning from Poole to Cherbourg, with approximately 40 miles of cycling along the coast after docking; hopefully reaching Utah beach to see any remains or memorials that might be there.