A pocket guide to the Beach to Bridge 2016
Why are we here?
71 years ago, soldiers received a booklet called: The pocket guide to France. This was to help them understand what important role they were about to play in history, whether they would make it off the beach or not… An excerpt from the first page:

You are about to play a personal part in pushing the Germans out of France. Whatever role you take – rifleman, hospital orderly, mechanic, pilot, clerk, gunner, truck driver – you will be an essential factor in a great effort which will have two results: first, France will be liberated from the Nazi mob and the Allied Armies will be that much nearer to victory, and second, the enemy will be deprived of coal, steel, manpower, machinery, food, bases, seacoast, and a long list of other essentials which have enabled him to carry on the war at the expense of the French.
We are here because we are about to embark on a great journey! A journey that took the liberators almost a full year. From the Normandy beaches to the Netherlands. We are here to never forget what the meaning of peace is and to remember… Remember the ones that have fallen but also the ones that made it off the beach and all the way to Berlin. The world fought for its freedom then and is doing that now. Let us all hope that we have learned from our history.
The Longest Day, Day 1
Starting from Cherbourg, one of the main objectives for landing on Utah Beach we have about a one hour drive to Utah Beach through beautiful country side and past the Batteries de Crisbecq. Passing this you have an excellent view over the ocean, like the men manning these bunkers back then. What a sight it must have been seeing all these thousands ships coming in through the fog.
The official start of the event is from the Utah Beach museum at 09:50 which is, as said before, about one hour drive from the hotel in Cherbourg. If you decide to have a nose around in the museum, which I strongly suggest, you might want to leave the hotel no later than 08:00 o’clock.
From the museum the official start of the event gives you your first challenge right away, the first navigation section. Nothing too serious but you will have to pay attention as these maps in France do tend to miss some roads every now and then…
Coming out of the navigation we join the Voie de la Liberté starting at Utah Beach and this will take you past “Dead man’s corner”. This whole area is well known from the TV series “Band of Brothers” as Easy Company landed on Utah and had the objective of liberating and holding Carentan, just south of Dead man’s corner. These crossroads were so named because an American tank coming from the beach was hit by a mortar here leaving the tank commander hanging from his hatch for several days. The Germans left him there on purpose during heavy fighting for several days and they were the first to name these crossroads.
Through Carentan we swing around the Passe de Carentan, a swamp land between Utah and Omaha beach with Carentan in the middle. Making it a stronghold for the Germans and a very important objective for the Allied Army. Our first coffee halt is at the very start of Omaha beach and you will have an amazing view from the terrace of Hotel de Casino. Just before the TC we pass by “Pointe du Hoc” but we have decided not to make the same mistake the Allies did. This point did not prove to be as big as a threat as they thought as the Germas had removed the guns after heavy bombing by the English in April. It is quite a walk from the parking to the Point so we will not visit here. After the TC however, we have built in a 30 minute break in the timeshedule at the Colleville Cemetery. The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres (70 ha), and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 and three American women.
From the cemetery we drive towards our lunch halt in Ouistreham, close to the start of last year’s event. How long you plan to stay at the cemetery is there for your decision as long as you leave lunch at your scheduled time! On our way to lunch we pass by a small town called Creully. The story about Creully is your road book and you will find more info like this in the road books to follow! Just to give you some background info during the day.
The first regularity of the event is about half an hour after lunch and is set up using tulips to not make this first one too difficult. There should not be any real surprises or tricks but that may just be me…
We are coming to the end of day 1 and we have seen beaches, countryside, hills and flats but we have not seen so many apple orchards yet. One of the most well know export products from Normandy is their Calvados, made from apples, so before we go to the hotel we will take you to a Calvados Chateau for a tour and a tasting. All in all this makes for a long day, The Longest Day in fact. Which is appropriate for the obvious reasons…

A pocket guide to the Beach to Bridge 2016
Day 2
I hope you have enjoyed your stay at Dormy House as much as we have during our recce’s. The view over the town and bay are magnificent aren’t they? With a 09:00 o’clock start and a 16:45 finish it is not a very long day but with 1 regularity and 3 navigation sections it is a day to keep you on your toes!
Are you awake yet? We start the day with a regularity section just 5 km’s away from the hotel so you will not have a lot of time to plot this one. Do take your time to plot as this one has a few tricks up its sleeve and changing speeds in the speed tables… Short but sweet!
We are heading away from the coast in the direction of Paris today so we leave WW II territory behind us for now, so no war today.
It was a difficult day finding appropriate locations but we managed to find some nice cafés and a wonderful lunch where you will possibly not want to leave again. The first TC we found is in a bar with the Love Boat theme from the 70’s. They even play this song on their website…
The navigation section after lunch finishes in Lyons en Foret. The number 4 most beautiful town in the whole of France. I do not know who elected them on that list but it is indeed a nice historical town to see. We leave the forest behind us and drive into the Vexin region. Beautiful hills and views in every direction and a more relaxed drive than this morning. The final navigation section of the day takes us through the Granary (graanschuur) of France so the height of the grain determines the difficulty of this section.
A final short coffee break before we head to the hotel and relax by the pool, on the terrace or in your own bath!
Not a long but indeed a busy day that ends in Chateau de Montvillargenne. In 1900, Baroness Jeanne Léonino de Rothschild began the construction of the Chateau de Montvillargenne, very near to the chateau owned by her mother. To honor her family name, Jeanne had the coat of arms of the Léoninos – still visible today – carved on the facade, along with that of the Rothschilds, which has since disappeared. The architecture of the chateau is a successful combination of regional and foreign styles such as Norman half-timbering, British windows, roofs from Wurtemburg and balconies in the style of the Bearn region. Some years after Jeanne’s demise in 1929, the chateau became the World War II headquarters of German troops. The West Wing, destroyed by Allied bombing, was rebuilt by the Mother Superior of the nuns of the Sacred-Heart, who transformed the chateau into a convent after the War.

A pocket guide to the Beach to Bridge 2016
Day 3
From Gouvieux to Dinant in Belgium today and just about the same amount of km’s as yesterday (290 km) but a slightly later finish because we are visiting 2 museums today. But as we have a full schedule there is not so much competition today. 1 regularity and 1 navigation section only.
The first of which is about one hour away from the hotel so we take the most direct route there (not using the motorway!). In the forest north east of Compiegne we will visit the Clairiere de l’armistice. A place full of history… It was here in the Forest of Compiegne and in the personal train carriage of General Foch, that the Germans signed the Armistice agreement in the presence of the Franco-British delegation headed by General Foch at 5.15am on 11th November 1918. This signing put an end to 52 months of fighting. WW I came to an end…
When the time came for the French to sign their Armistice agreement with the Germans in WW II, Hitler had this train carriage taken out of the museum de l’armistice, on the same spot it is today, and rolled out to the exact spot it was on November 11th 1918. De Gaulle was even placed in the same chair that Foch was in and Hitler had him sign their surrender to even the score you might say.
In a short visit you will learn all about the history and importance of this place.
A short drive to our first navigation section of the day which is through a “zone rouge”. An area of complete devastation in WW I and still, till today, there is high risk of finding missing people, weapons and bombs in the fields and forests surrounding. It is only till after lunch that the alert color goes from Red to Yellow (area of significant damage) so I suggest you stay on the tarmac as much as possible… Coming into lunch we drive most of what is called the “Chemin des Dames” again you will find the history of this road in your road books.
Crossing into Belgium after today’s regularity we pass by a small and ugly place called “Regniowez” and unwillingly this town, more specific its airfield, played an important role in the war. Hitler carefully chose this area to plan his attack and conquering of France because it is close to the border, well hidden in the thick forest and there was an airfield close by. Landing in Regniowez (France) he only had a short drive to Bruly de Pesche where he had the complete region cleared of all its inhabitants to make sure nobody knew he was there. This small village was to become the Wolfschlucht 1, the place he would live with his military staff and plan and oversee the conquering of France. You will learn more about this when we visit the town that they have made into a museum. It is as if the time stood still in June 1940…
We had planned a test on this airfield, now circuit, but the local municipality is renovating the site so we were unable to book this historical site.
Only one hour left to our Castel in the forest where we will spend the night in Castel du Pont à Lesse.

A pocket guide to the Beach to Bridge 2016
Day 4
We are in Belgium now, so we change to different maps for the navigation and regularity sections… the scale is the same but it takes a better eye to puzzle these…
And you will be confronted with that right from the start as we have the first regularity starting from the hotel gate! Since it is a marked map you will just have to follow the blue line so easy does it?! Or not… The end of the timed section is marked on the map but you will have had at least 2 timing points before you get to that point! And since it is day 4, you may expect codeboards (letters) along the entire route.
At TC 4.2 you may want to catch the owner who is an Austin Healy maniac. He used to race them and was a proud member of the Austin Healy club in the Netherlands. Lots of automobilia to be found in this small hotel! You may also want to use your time wisely and pencil in the route for the next navigation section because as said before, the maps in Belgium are never what they seem to be…
We are now heading into the Ardennes area of the Battle of the Bulge where lots of Tanks are still around. A small but nice detail is that all the American tanks in the area have their guns pointed into the same direction as from where the Germans attacked Bastogne after they lost it to the Americans. It was a long and cold winter in the Ardennes and the hills around Bastogne for the Americans were running low on just about everything and since they had not planned to spend the winter (Christmas) here they were underdressed as well. At the end of the day, just before we get to Spa, we stop in a small but very worthwhile museum with a real Tiger 2 Tank outside. December 44 Museum it is appropriately called. The owner will gladly tell you the story of how this Tank got there.

A pocket guide to the Beach to Bridge 2016
Day 5
The final day, the day we liberate The Netherlands…
The maps will even get worse today as they will have some “war damage” on them. You will see what that looks like…

Only 2 navigation sections today but you know what they say about the sting don’t you? It is always in the…

Before starting the second navigation section we visit one of three military cemetery’s in this Belgium and one of fourteen foreign cemeteries of the American Army. The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, covering 57 acres.
7,992 of our liberators lay buried here, most of whom lost their lives during the advance of the U.S. armed forces into Germany. The cemetery possesses great military historic significance as it holds fallen Americans of two major efforts, one covering the U.S. First Army’s drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg into Germany, and the second covering the Battle of the Bulge.
You may want to take some time to have a glance behind the huge facades. As the major road runs through the cemetery, you can cross this and marvel at the view over the landscape you will be driving your navigation section in. Toilets are available by the way, just follow the signs.

We will finish today around lunchtime (12:15) at Chateau Neercanne ON the Dutch/Belgian border but not before we have paid a visit to a very small village called “Mesch”. Mesch was the first town to be liberated on September 12, 1944. Farmers were working the field early that day like they always do when they saw soldiers sneeking through the orchards. They were American soldiers of the 30th Infantry division. “You are free” is what they tell the stupefied but very happy farmers…

Hope to see you next year when we will start from the “Ville Detruit” Oradour sur Glane!