After a long but good flight from Vancouver to Paris the group arrived in Caen. With the afternoon off, some of us had naps and others explored a little of the city. Our hotel is across the street from the race track that Canadians fought across, namely the Black Watch Regiment. Tom Irvine’s (Quebec Command rep) father was one of those soldiers.

As we had our meet and greet dinner this evening it struck me that how incredible this trip is going to be. We are Canadians from coast to coast enjoying our meal not far from where Canadians in July 1944 had rushed across more than 1000m of open field and race track so that we could even be here. The race track is still here today, as you can see in the picture below children use it for walking and running.

Off to Juno Beach and the “The Longest Day” tomorrow.

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Photo above: A race track Canadian soldiers fought across during July 1944 WWII.

Picture below: The fighting in Normandy was fierce. The city of Caen was bombarded and reduced to rubble.

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Photo above: Caen in July 1944 and Caen today.

Photo below: Gun fire at Caen, July 1944.

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Photo below: The 2013 Pilgrimage of Remembrance ended its first day in Caen in a hotel at Place Marechal Foch, across the road from a memorial to the First and Second World Wars. The monument is pockmarked by bullets and shrapnel from the fierce fighting to liberate the city in the summer of 1944.

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– Shaun

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