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   Vol. 18 No. 59
Wednesday September 18, 2019

A Postscript To D-Day
Postscript To Day-Day
     As a postscript to that big D-Day gathering earlier this summer when more than 40 DC3s returned to the skies above the coast of France, we journeyed to Bernay in Normandy and relived some WWII memories through the eyes of a child.
     One of the great things about reporting on aviation in air cargo is the places you visit and the people you meet.
     Bernay is a small town of just 10,000.
     Bernay is filled with beautiful fifteenth- to eighteenth-century homes. The downtown area in particular is exquisite for its period architecture.
     One is struck by the lively local population and wonderful markets on summer weekends. The cozy pubs are filled with warmhearted, friendly people.
     You also get a sense, looking at the beautifully aging buildings and the unique architecture, of the fragility of this town; that a 40-foot rig full of cargo highballing down the road through Bernay at 60 kilometers would cause the buildings on main street to collapse onto the road itself.
     Of course, no big vehicles are allowed, but you get the picture.
     To their credit, the French know what they have and are out to protect not only the heritage here, but also their unique and envious lifestyle.
     Based in a former sixteenth-century abbey house, the Municipal Museum of Bernay is home to a fine art collection ranging from antiquity to the 20th century.
     Bernay’s Musee includes archaeology, Egyptology, French, Italian, Flemish, and Dutch paintings, and a superb collection of ceramics from Rouen considered amongst the finest in France.
     Near the museum, the eleventh-century Abbey Church of Our Lady, a superb example of the Romanesque style, is simply stunning.
     Picturesque forms line the streets of Rue Thiers and Rue Gaston Folloppe, accenting the old half-timbered houses in Bernay.
      History is alive in Bernay.
     Although Bernay is located in the coastal area of Normandy, which in contemporary history is much remembered for June 6, 1944, and the allied effort to free Europe, its rich and full history dates back to Roman and Norman times.
     Joan of Arc is buried in Rouen, less than 20 miles away from Bernay.

Anne Le Flohic and Bernay AeroClub

     In Bernay there is a small private airfield that opened in 1934, seven years after Charles Lindbergh electrified France and the rest of the world when he flew from New York to Paris.
     Today operated by the Aero Club de Bernay, the airport once served as base for the German Luftwaffe, which built a hangar here and some barracks that are still in use for aircraft and related storage.
     Bernay Airport is quiet except for some occasional private flights and of course an active flying school.
     Anne Le Flohic is the sparkplug and bright light chairwoman of the Aero Flying Club in a place that recalls the early days of aviation, right down to a big friendly golden retriever that greets everybody heading into the pilots’ lounge.
     In Bernay, we spoke to Claude Cardine.
     Today at 78, Claude Cardine is a stylish Frenchman who classes up just about every place he visits. He haunts the local auctions and doesn’t remember much of the Second World War except what his parents told him when they lived in the town of Brionne.
     What he does remember are the squadrons of fighters zooming about the sky above and bombers that were sent to destroy the bridge that spanned the river Risle near Brionne.
     “The aircraft came in waves again and again and my mother and father and my siblings were aware of the conflict although we were safe and never felt threatened.
     “I remember one day the bridge on Risle was gone and some homes in the town of Brionne were destroyed,” Claude ventured.
     “There are many examples of death and destruction in Normandy during that time, but I guess that’s war.
     “It’s an indelible memory even for a three-year-old boy,” Claude smiled.
     “I’ve gone back to my former home in Brionne and thought of those days.
     “This is a magnificent place.
     “We have a very active aero club for private fliers and training for the next generation of aviators here in Bernay, where I live today with my wife Madame Azra, and where we raised our two children.
     “Every once in a while there’s an event with formation aircraft at Normandy that reminds me of those terrible times long ago.
     “I also think about all of the people who sacrificed themselves so that Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, and the colors of the flag of France, could continue to lift our lives, ensuring that our children were born into freedom,” Claude Cardine said.

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