In 2008, I spent a week on holiday just outside of Bernières-sur-mer, the seafront of which forms part of Juno Beach, the Canadian landing point on D-Day 70 years ago today. During that time, I also visited Sword and Gold, the British landing points, and Omaha, one of the two American beaches (and the bloodiest). My visit to the latter of these in particular led me to making my first real attempt at writing poetry, ‘At the beach’, which you can read here.
By chance, a couple of weeks before the trip I’d picked up in a charity shop a copy of “Not in Vain” by Ken Bell, a Canadian photographer who landed on Juno on D-Day. For this beautiful book of photographs, Ken revisited in 1979 some of the locations he’d photographed in 1944, taking new pictures to show the contrast created by 35 years of peace. It turned out that Ken’s exact landing point was Bernières-sur-mer and I resolved to seek out during my trip some of the locations photographed so I could create 2008 versions of these pictures.
In the end, I managed to track down four of these – three in Bernières-sur-mer and one on the way to Ouistreham. Today, the last major event to commemorate this historic moment, seems a good day to publish these.