Familiar view - revisited

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by harkness, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    31st July 1944. Vehicles of 8th Rifle Brigade at the crossroad in St Martin des Besaces, heading for the newly-captured bridge over the Souleuvre:


    The photo even made the Illustrated London News:

    Besaces_Illustrated London News_1944-08-12.jpg

    Hotel on the left, garage on the right. Now, with the newly-released film footage from IWM, we can explore further:





    23H Sherman with 3rd Mon passengers:


    Even shots from inside the Hotel:


    From my collection:



    Hotel and garage are bottom right:
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
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  2. PaulE

    PaulE Senior Member

    An iconic location that has hardly changed , last time i was there i was talking to two old French girls who lived on the other side of the road when they were kids and remember it all !!
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  3. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Brilliant! It would certainly be a sight to remember.
  4. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Here, you can also spot the distinctive curved ''Restaurant' sign on the left:


    4jonboy likes this.
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Brilliant images. I assume they have updated the Hotel facilities and rooms more frequently than the Restaurant sign. :)

    Edit: what a shame. I've just checked Streetview - not sure how up to date it is - but the Hotel looks derelict. Hopefully a Phoenix will/has risen from the ashes.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  6. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    One would hope so! It's undergone quite a few changes over the years. Here it is in its 'pre-Restaurant sign' period:



    Quite a difference between the two 'phases'.

    Attached Files:

    stolpi likes this.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  8. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    I guess they lost loads of business when the nearby Autoroute opened. The Restaurant opposite (ref Streetview) also looks as though it could do with a tidy up.
  9. PaulE

    PaulE Senior Member

    It still looks the same now in 20188
  10. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    What a great series of photos!
    Have been there myself in 2014, in relation to an 8th Rifle Brigade veteran's story (part his memoirs, which I am trying to find a publisher for). The following happened near the very hotel shown above:

    "But the following morning something quite extraordinary happened. It was about eight o’clock and we began to hear a roar of motor engines on the road behind us. We did not think it was the enemy, we hoped it was not, but it certainly was not tanks. It was something else and they were coming very, very fast. We were absolutely amazed by this, but not so amazed as eventually were the Germans because it turned out be a section of the Household Cavalry in armoured cars, and they belted past us at a tremendous leg, heading straight for that fatal corner. One felt like running up and say ‘Well, don’t go down there, there are Germans, they’ve got a gun, they’ll blow you to pieces!’ But they went straight on and so fast they go that the leading vehicle went straight over that corner and down the other side, which is the thing that we had not dared to do, the second vehicle - by this time the Germans had pulled themselves together – was hit by the anti-tank gun or tank or whatever it was and burst into flames, but had the sense to pull himself off the road into the ditch. And the third vehicle went right through and across the road before the Germans could reload and he went down the other side of the road, down the other continuation of the road that we were on, in pursuit of his leading vehicle. Well now, this was performance of the most utter gallantry. I had never seen anything like it before and I have not seen anything since. It was sheer charge of the light brigade."

    And even better, I think the armoured car which was hit can be seen, still smouldering, on a film held by the IWM (from which I assume some or all of the photos above were also taken). See photo below (screen shot from film, I still need to order a decent copy), showing burning vehicle on right and the hotel in back ground.

    13g - Household armoured car.jpg
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  11. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    A bit clearer:



    Brigadier Roscoe Harvey:

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  12. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Wow, that's great! Could I be right that this scout car probably was hit while crossing the (former) railway line, which used to lie some 140m before the cross roads and hotel (coming from the north)? In other words that the German gun which is referred to in the story above in my posting #10 was located on or next to the railway line. The latter can be seen quite clearly running top left to middle right on the aerial photograph in posting #1. I also expect this to be the case as in the photo with smouldering scout car a cross roads sign can be seen, and not a railway crossing sign...
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  13. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Just realised that this is in the same village as the Museum La Percee du Bocage. Although I haven't yet visited this Museum I understand it contains quite a lot of material relating to the 11th Armoured Division.
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  14. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    I have been there. A great little museum!
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  15. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    Me too.

    Here's a photo taken inside. A 're-creation' of the photo taken in Le Beny Bocage on 1 Aug 1944 (the day after the 'Hotel' pics) which is on the wall behind. Sgt John Sear, C Sqr, 23rd Hussars, with some of the local inhabitants, embraced by Léone Marie (left) and Madeleine Touyon. The modern pic is John Sear junior with the same two 'girls'.

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