The Wandering British Major

Perhaps the bit of fouling-up that disturbed me the most resulted from the confused orders of a wandering British major who one moment was attached to a British unit and the next to an American one. None of his reports ever reached me until it was too late for them to have any value. I was constantly making an all-out effort to get to a bombed-out building only to find that he had already been there on one of his peregrinations. One day at the request of SHAEF I made the long trip to Colleville-sur-Mer near Omaha Beach. It was a particularly trying journey and I resented the time consumed. When I at last reached my objective, a Romanesque church in need of immediate attention, I found that my friend had already administered first aid. A fine portal remained unharmed and some of the elements of the solid stone architecture had not fallen as had the tower and the vaults. My predecessor had planted a huge sign, of his own device. It looked like a billboard and warned: ALLIED FORCES: It is Forbidden to Remove Stone or Other Material from the Site of This Church. HISTORICAL MONUMENT: CIVIL AFFAIRS. The posting of a sign always gave a feeling of accomplishment (J. Rorimer, 7).

Church at Colleville-sur-Mer, 1944 (Photo JJR)

Church at Colleville-sur-Mer, 1944 (Photo JJR)

On the way to Omaha Beach today, I started getting antsy. Looking out the bust window, I could tell we were approaching Colleville-sur-Mer, and I began scanning for church steeples. I broke the silence of the somber bus tour group and requested that we stop, doing a spontaneous show-and-tell with my grandfather’s book, passing it to the tourists seated across the row. Seeing this monument today was another victory for Monuments Girl!

Church at Colleville-sur-Mer, 2014 (SSR)

Church at Colleville-sur-Mer, 2014 (Photo SSR)