I know it is the 13th June but we have only just started to recover… so goodness knows how the stars are – the veterans! I have heard all the serving parachutists and Army boys were complaining of being tired too!
What a week we’ve had!
Harry Kulkowitz came and stayed with us in our home for the 7th year… he landed on Utah Beach 6th June 1944 and went right through to the Battle of the Bulge, lied about his age and joined up with a whole host of other New York Jews who all joined up enmasse. Harry was a radio interceptor, trained in England and came across the channel by boat.
We were asked by our Mayor when we first bought our house in this village if we would take a veteran in as English speakers so obviously we were delighted – Harry was billeted with us and as we tease him we can’t get rid of him! I think over the 7 visits we’ve had all 3 grand children, his sister, his 2 daughters and each time his son Mark who owns and runs the Mad Batter & Carroll Villa in Cape May NJ. see this link http://www.philly.com/philly/green/96201444.html
He came this year with his son Mark and his youngest daughter Tessa.
Harry is rather frail now – he’s having memory problems but quite frankly when he is stimulated he is a lot better, but there were a couple of occasions when he was completely exhausted so we had to help him stand on parade and one time in a wheelchair… but take into account jet lag as well he did remarkably well!
For this post I’m mainly going to add photos so you can all see for yourselves the respect and the love that is shown to the veterans. This year we had 600 paratroopers come down over Ste Mere Eglise – French, German, US, British, Belgium and Canadian. 10 planes. The men all here for a week to see for themselves the 6th June celebrations… it was just wonderful to sit on a table with Americans and Germans side by side bantering and showing huge respect to the old boys.
Our weeks was as follows:
Harry arrived 3rd June – slept 15 hours and then on the 4th June it all kicked off…
4 p.m. ceremony in Carentan to be awarded the Order of the Senate – effectively as he is already a knight of France holding The Legion d’Honneur this senate is equivalent to being made a Lord!
6 p.m. Houesville for ceremony to mark the passing of Reg Alexander a Screaming Eagle that came to Houesville for over 25 years died in January. followed by Vin du honneur in the Salle du Fete
8 p.m. Banquet with 2 star general and 200 or so serving soldiers – we left around 1 a.m.
5th June the 600 parachutists, big event in La Fiere followed by a birthday celebration here for a little boy born on 6th June (cake & champagne) followed by another banquet this time in Ste Mere Eglise – 600+ people to include soldiers and local people – huge firework display at the end – got home around 1 a.m. again.
6th June we tried to keep it calm – so it was just a visit to Utah Beach and the museum there – dinner at The Mayors house, 5 course meal – home for around 2 a.m.
7th June Went to Grandcamp Maisy for lunch and met the 2 star General in the same restaurant then on to Coleville sur Mer where Harry was invited to fold the flag at taps. Got home for 7 p.m. and straight out to dinner with a local French Army Officer – another 2 a.m.
8th June party for Harry at our house 35 for 4 course dinner – very late night – 2 a.m. with Harry, Mark & Tessa due to leave at 6 a.m. – luckily Mike woke up!! They got off OK we’re left with a mountain of washing up!
We also had a British Veteran staying at our Utah Beach house – he was a Scots Guard and came through Normandy in a Churchill Tank… delightful chap and with his son researched one of the battles he was in – traced a house that he almost demolished, returned to the spot and apologized to the owners… still the same family to this day!
We met another British Veteran – another Harry – Royal Navy his job during the invasion was dropping off the lads as close to the land as could get… he was escorted by 3 ex Royal Marines that all served together one of whom was the first 4 British Legion chaps to pay respects to the fallen coming through Wootton Bassett from Afghanistan. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/5771032/Wootton-Bassett-A-very-British-way-of-mourning.html