A Battlefield study tour to Normandy, France, has proved “humbling” and “inspirational” for a group of young people studying in Cornwall.
Military & Protective Services Academy students from Duchy College followed in the footsteps of soldiers, sailors and airmen to look at the key locations involved in ‘Operation Overlord’, D-Day, 6th June 1944.
They visited the site of the British Airborne landings and the famous Pegasus Bridge, where students were given an introduction to the D-Day operation as a whole.
The first building liberated by the allies proved fascinating, before moving onto the Pegasus Bridge museum.
Merville Battery was up next before moving onto Juno Beach, the site of the Canadian landings and a tour of the museum and a German strongpoint.
Students discovered a former German radar station overlooking the town of Arromanches where they were given more detail about the defences including the complexity of the man-made harbour, floated all the way over from England in parts.
The students visited Omaha Beach, made famous in the opening scenes of the film “Saving Private Ryan”, where they had the honour of meeting a US GI who had landed in the First Wave on D-Day, a very humbling and awe-inspiring man.
They then practiced, some in period uniform, the tactics of getting over the 500 yards of beach. It was from here that the trip then visited the US cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer where 9700 soldiers, sailors and airman are buried.
Level 3 Military & Protective Services Academy student Lucy Evans said the trip was “absolutely amazing and I learnt so much”.
“I enjoyed going to the beaches, meeting the veteran was so inspirational and we were very lucky to meet him,” she added.
Fellow Level 3 Military & Protective Services Academy student Jon Colmer said he really enjoyed going to Normandy learning about everything that happened and getting a better understanding.
“It really made me think about the sacrifice people made for us.”
Before heading back to England the students conducted a short ceremony of remembrance in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CGWC) cemetery in Bayeux.
Level 3 Military & Protective Services Academy student, Christian Davies, said it was the first time “I had been abroad and I learnt so much in so little time!”
“We learnt all the important history that gives us the freedom we have today. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
Course Manager Jon Stone said the trip to Normandy was a chance for the students to learn about the significance of D-Day and see how the roles that they are looking to go into would collaborate.
“It was a great example of the complexity of Military operations and acts of individual courage,” he continued.
“The trip also showed the students the importance of STEM within the Military and Public Services. A very humbling and worthwhile trip, especially meeting US veteran of Omaha Beach on Omaha beach.”