A touching tale from Lac de Maine, Angers, France

12 Nov

In 1994 we were motorhoming in the Loire valley in France, fifty years after the Normandy invasion by Allied Forces.

Next to us on the campsite at Lac de Maine, Angers, was a delightful, elderly French couple who spoke no English. The gentleman was obviously still very fit and was interested in our bikes, particularly my French mountain bike. In the late 50s and early 60s he had been an Olympic level racing cyclist. It was difficult for me to comprehend a lot of what he said due to his cleft palate.

In our chat, we were asked about the Normandy invasion and we said that we had visited the museums on our way to Angers. In passing, I mentioned that my father and uncle were born in Canada. The old lady immediately became very tearful and hugged me, kissing me repeatedly on both cheeks. She clung to me for quite some time. I was shocked and puzzled and wondered if my poor French had been misunderstood somehow.

It turned out that during the invasion of Normandy, she had fled Caen with her mother. Shot at repeatedly on a straight road by German fighter planes, they had dived into a ditch and pretended to be dead near a culvert. They were rescued by Canadian soldiers. Fifty years later she expressed her gratitude to me, a token Canadian. I felt that it was I who had rescued her ,which was most humbling to say the least.

This is just one reason why we should remember the acts of protection shown in war and the shear sacrifice of those who gave their all.

  This was the trusty steed at the time. Five berth with an “origami” bed made from many cushions and drop down/swing out plywood supports ! Great fun though. We carried the bikes vertically hung on the rear on a home made carrier. We towed a little Suzuki Alto Auto using a tow dolly on the front wheels. The 2 litre petrol engine on the Talbot did 24 mpg average but did not like very hot weather. The fuel used to cavitate in the line to the carb (remember them?) . I had to build a heat shield from bits of tin and wire with aluminium foil added. It did the job ! The cab corroded and had to be resprayed but eventually rain poured in via the accomodating seam across the roof. Elle est morte !!!! Lovely van to drive. Light handling and I had a decent gearchange once the linkage was lubed and all tightened up. This may have been a rare good ‘un……………

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