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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 21 No. 24
Thursday June 9, 2022

D-Day In Bernay

Azra and Claude Cardine

     Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité On June 6
     On June 6 we recall D-Day in France during World War II when the Allies landed and it was the beginning of the end of Nazi rule of Europe.
     We especially recall three years ago when on June 6 more than 40 DC-3s that had first accompanied the landings in 1944 returned to the skies above the coast of France to mark the 75h Anniversary of the landings.
     Many of those DC-3s were pressed into air cargo use immediately after the war by enterprising people that bought them up at USD$1500.00 a piece and formed airlines with names like Seaboard World, Flying Tiger Line and others.
     Once again as we salute all the brave soldiers that served, it can be said air cargo saved the day which is why so many DC-3s are still around.
     In Yellowknife, Canada where Buffalo Airways is still flying supplies and people around in DC-3s, Buffalo’s Mikey McBryan assembled a team that completely rebuilt a derelict DC-3 (that had flown above Normandy June 6,1944) and made it air worthy again to celebrate the aforementioned 2019 75th Anniversary.
     You can pick up that story on Plane Savers-to our mind one of the best exciting builds and comebacks recorded of an old airplane ever.
     We have family in France and often journey to Bernay in Normandy.
     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 and is a place 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.
     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 and Bernay AeroClub

     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, our cousin Claude Cardine lives quietly with his wife in a beautiful Chateau built in 1745.
     Today at 81, Claude and Madame Azra Cardine are stylish French people who class up just about every place they visit.
     For his part, Claude most enjoys haunting 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 Normandie 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 brave selfless 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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