On 8th June 2014, more than 250 wartime vehicles took to the streets of Bayeux. The town, in the Calvados region of Normandy, was the first major sites liberated by the Allies in 1944. British troops landed on Gold Beach around 0830hrs on 6th June 1944.
The first of those men made it to Bayeux entered the Saint Suplice suburbs one day later. The reconnaissance patrol of 151st Brigade, 50th Northumbrian Division held out until noon the following day. It was then the tanks and infantry of 56th Brigade arrived.
Military vehicles on parade evoke memories of the triumphant XXX Corps
Exactly 70 years later to the day, I visited the town and watched as locals and tourists filled the streets. The mood was jubilant, commemorative but triumphant. This vehicle parade was not about the glorification of war, rather a simple thank you.
The focus of the parade was the British XXX Corps or 30th Corps. This included those men of the 50th Northumbrian Division who were first to arrive in 1944.
The display began at 1100hrs on Sunday 8th June 2014. Over 150 military vehicles belonging to private British collectors took part in the procession. All restored to their 1944 glory, some showed their age more than others. The rattle of 70-year-old engines, the smoke, and smell of oil as well as the odd breakdown added to the spectacle.
Normandy campaign vehicles on show
All the military vehicles on show were of the type used at the time of the D-Day landings. Restored by history enthusiasts at considerable costs, the show included jeeps, lorries, and amphibious vehicles.
As well as the vehicles, collectors, and re-enactors, a dozen British veterans took part in the parade. Tens of thousands of us enjoyed the afternoon. Old and young alike applauded and waved Tricolores and British Union Flags.
The Bayeux Liberation Military Vehicle Parade ran in partnership with the Tillysur-Seulles Battle of Normandy Book Fair. British collectors supplied all vehicles. Bayeux Intercom Tourist Office organised the event.