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French villagers oppose British D-day memorial on their land in Normandy

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French villagers oppose British D-day memorial on their land in Normandy
Photo: AFP
13:54 CET+01:00
The residents of a French village have opposed a new memorial to be built in honour of the WWII British soldiers who took part in the Normandy Landings, saying it will destroy their protected, agricultural land. *French language learner article.*

*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.

A heated debate is brewing in the small Normandy village of Ver-sur-Mer, the village which was once the site of one of the most pivotal days in 20th century war history, the Normandy Landings.

Last year Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May agreed that on June 6th, 2019 they would meet in Ver-sur-Mer to cut the red ribbon at a new memorial to British soldiers who disembarked on Normandy’s beaches 75 years earlier to the day.

But with the inauguration deadline just six months away, the building permit for the memorial site has yet to be authorised.

A sketch of the planned memorial. 

This is largely due to opposition by a handful of Ver-sur-Mer’s residents, who feel their commune shouldn’t have been chosen as the memorial site as they fear it will mean their protected, agricultural land is turfed over and destroyed.

"It's not that we’re not grateful to the English, we will be until the end of time for everything they did," Maxi Krause, a local resident who organized an opposition march made up of just three protesters to “inform the public”, told France 3.

“There’s already the British cemetery in Bayeux with a huge grassy area all around it where they could add the engraved names (of British soldiers that would be honoured in the prospective Ver-sur-Mer site)."

Opponents to the memorial are equally apprehensive about the planned construction of a parking lot for visitors and the sale of their municipal stadium to be incorporated into the memorial site, a project which in total is budgeted at €20 million, all paid for by British taxpayers.

Also of concern to them is that the memorial bus routes will go through their village rather than bypassing it, bringing with it more traffic and commotion but not necessarily more money, as visitors will only be on short stays.

As a result of the complaints, a public inquiry has already been opened, with the scheduled verdict set for February 2.

British association Normandy Memorial Trust was entrusted with buying the land in Ver-sur-Mer to honour the 20,000 British soldiers who disembarked on the beaches of Normandy on June 6th 1944.

Not all opponents are completely against a memorial being erected, but most feel the location should be changed.

Ver-sur-Mer is situated on the eastern end of Gold Beach, one of the code names given by the Allies to the areas where they disembarked in Normandy.

D-day, the largest seaborne invasion in history, saw as many as 19,000 troops on both sides die during the landings.

French vocal to learn

Le Jour J: D-day

ériger : erect/put up

le débarquement: landing

reconnaissant: grateful

l'échéance: delivery date

appréhensif: apprehensive 

gazonner: turf over

une site classé: protected area

les riverains: residents

contourner: bypass


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