On my visit to Bayeux in June 2014, a Bedford truck stalled during a Liberation Parade of Allied vehicles. The town came to gridlock. The parade halted. Vehicles and people backed up down the narrow winding streets. The centre of Bayeux was no different in June 1944 when the Allied troops rolled through.
After liberation, the task of solving the logistical nightmare fell to the Royal Engineers and Pioneer Corps. Roy Young served with 72 Field Company Royal Engineers. In 2004, he told his story to the BBC WW2 People’s War project. Construction of the bypass began on 18th June 1944.
Whilst at Bayeux, 72 Field Company RE undertook a number of roadwork projects. This included the construction of what is now called the Bayeux bypass. Bulldozers would first clear and level the road alignment. We would then lay rolls of Somerfeld track. This consisted of very strong mesh reinforced at intervals with steel bars. Our alignment still exists as a bypass today!
Roy Young – Royal Engineers
Traveling in 2014
That original bypass construction still lies under the current ring road. It’s said to have been the first of its type in France.
The route echoes the old medieval city walls and the roads and roundabouts bear names and dates made famous in the war.
- Boulevard d’Eindhoven
- Boulevard Winston Churchill
- Rond-Point Eisenhower
- Boulevard Maréchal Montgomery
- Boulevard Sadi Carnot
- Rond-Point d’Ornano
- Boulevard Fabian Ware
- Boulevard du 6 Juin
- Rond-Point Vaucelles
You can still follow the bypass around Bayeux. Travel by the military cemetery and war memorial and on out into the stunning Calvados countryside. This post makes up part of our travel diary from the 70th-anniversary of D-Day in Normandy 2014.