48.8799° N • 0.1713° E

D-Day in Normandy: Meeting Joe, who fought for Europe’s freedom.

On the anniversary of D-Day, Yldau and Fabian had an incredibly emotional encounter with Joe, a British veteran of the Second World War, who took part in the operations. They met Joe at Villa l’Estran, a beachfront house which was used as a communications centre by the Germans during the war. Joe  and two other English soldiers had sneaked in with the help of the resistance and had been hiding for 2 days in a room under the roof when they finally got the order to disable the communications system. This happened 74 years ago.

Today, the house is the property of Hervé, who has spent his holidays in Arromanches-les-Bains ever since his childhood. One day in 2004, Hervé saw a man standing on the dike and looking at the Villa. Hervé approached him and learned about his amazing story.

It was Joe, returning to Normandy to celebrate the 60thAnniversary of the landing. Ever since, Hervé’s family invites him to come and stay at “L’Estran” every 6th of June, to commemorate D-day together when, in 1944 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Western Europe from Nazi control.

During the three months of battle which followed the D-Day 80 000 soldiers and 20 000 civilians lost their lives.

Joe survived it all. Freedom was – and still is – his raison d’être.

His message to today’s youth: expand your horizons and live life to the fullest!

Today, more than two million people from all over the world visit the landing beaches every year. The sites have been enhanced with EU support and Normandy has applied to have them listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Commemorative celebrations are organised around the 6thof June, with re-enactments of the battles, exhibitions, festivals, balls and fireworks.

Traces of the war can still be seen on land and at sea: military cemeteries, German fortifications and bunkers, sections of the artificial harbour the Allies installed at Arromanches, and many others.

This year, Normandy has alsofor the first time organised a World Peace Forum around conflict resolution and the preservation of peace.

Yldau and Fabien took part in the forum alongside politicians, diplomats, journalists, UN and Amnesty International representatives, former child soldiers and political science professors

They also visited the “History through their EYES” exhibition which tells the stories of ten young men and women whose lives were changed dramatically by the Second World War. The aim of this EU-funded exhibition is to create a better understanding of the war and its consequences, and this way to showcase the importance of peace, freedom and democracy.


Read more about:

The D-Day and the Battle of Normandy:

The Agenda of the D-Day anniversary celebrations:

The Word Peace Forum:

History through their EYES:

The Liberation Route:

See also

TOP 5 things to do in Antwerp, Belgium

We asked you what to do when in Antwerp with Louis, you voted, and we collected the TOP 5 things to do in Antwerp, Belgium (this includes: eating some delicious Belgian fries).

The Golubac Fortress, Serbia

We visited the Golubac Fortress, a medieval fortified town on the south side of the Danube River, 4 km downstream from the modern-day town of Golubac, Serbia.