Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy Landings (D-Day).

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When winters long, dark fingers loosen their grip on the Spring evenings, it is time to plan a motorcycle trip. Last week I joined a few friends on an organised tour of Normandy, visiting the 5 beaches the Allies invaded, Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah; the Batterie de Merville, the Pegasus Bridge and the Gondrée Café (arguably the first French house to be liberated); the terrifying vertical cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, the battlefield of the Falaise pocket and Sainte-Mère-Église, one of the first towns liberated in the invasion.


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I packed the bikes panniers, strapped down my bags, filled the tank and set out for the mobile tea shop at junction 18 on the M4 to meet my friends, before carrying on as a group to our hotel at Folkestone. The journey to the hotel was long, but safe, so we ate at a Gurkha restaurant with much back slapping and good fun, finishing with a relatively early night, to be up early for the long ride to Normandy the next day.

The next day we set out to the Batterie de Merville, where the allied forces, depleted in numbers, still scored a massive victory against the Nazi killing machine. We visited the museum there – the first of many for this trip – then off to the Pegasus Bridge, where another strategic victory was won. We met Madame Gondrée there at her beautiful cafe – she was a 5 year old little girl when the bridge was liberated and could still remember the Gestapo in the house across the way. The Gestapo had taken her in a few days before the liberation, feeling that something was afoot, but she kept quiet, which was important as her parents had two British airmen hidden in their pantry, a few hundred yards away.

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We set out for Arromanches where a quickly built, Mulberry harbour had been constructed to service the allied forces and then a quick scoot to Pointe du Hoc where Hitler constructed a battery in his Atlantic wall, designed to keep out the Allied Forces, but failed to do so.




After a nights sleep in Caen, we set out to Bayeux War Cemetery. To see all the pristine gravestones and the young ages shown of all nationalities laid to rest in this peaceful place is one of the moments of my life I will never forget. A few days later we were in the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer and once again, the moment overwhelmed me as I took in the thousands of grave markers of the brave young men who gave their all for us, to live in the freedom we are privileged to enjoy today. 


How privileged we are.


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 I hope this gives you a small taste of my trip to Normandy and I thank you for taking the time to read this. We had a great 1600 miles of riding and were privileged to visit the museums and memorials in Normandy, my favourite being the museum at Sainte-Mère-Église, which I first visited forty years ago on a school trip. The museum had grown massively since last time, but it still had the feeling of respect that I remembered.



My poor Honda had taken a hammering, and it really was whistle stop tour we did, much more than I can tell you here. in this, my brand new Loose Gravel blog. If you liked it, please tell your friends and subscribe for updates and I look forward to meeting for a brew soon.

Stay Loose


Ian ‘Ianto’ Gravell is a disabled adventurer and author. When he’s not writing or editing, he loves to ride motorcycles for fun around the globe to unplanned destinations.

Keep tabs on his adventures in his blog and his newsletter



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