AzAmazing Evening marks Henry’s heroism and the D-Day sacrifices

//AzAmazing Evening marks Henry’s heroism and the D-Day sacrifices

The sands of Normandy saw some distinguished action on Friday, the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The Queen joined Presidents Obama, Hollande and Putin at Omaha Beach where the liberation of Europe began with the landing of Allied troops on June 6 1944. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were among those attending a remembrance ceremony at Juno Beach to mark Canada’s involvement.
There’s an armada of cruise ships in the area, carrying a few surviving veterans along with hundreds of passengers wanting to pay their own tributes.
I am travelling on Azamara Journey, which spent the day in port at Cherbourg, on the tip of Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula and within a few miles of the heart of the D-Day action.
We have our own veteran sailing with us. Now 91, Henry Ochsner was a member of the Second Battalion of the US 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment when he was dropped into combat 70 years ago.
He was guest of honour at the AzAmazing Evening Liberation Party held in Cherbourg’s restored Gare Maritime. The splendid Art Deco building was opened in 1912, just in time to welcome Titanic, en route from Southampton.
Laid waste under German occupation in the Second World War, it is now back in use as a cruise terminal and maritime museum. Azamara took over the splendid first floor passenger halls for the party and laid on an absolute treat.
There was music from a uniformed uniformed big band and the delightful Three Belles (below); locals in authentic period dress added to the atmosphere like a puff of Gitanes, a sip of Pernod, or a whiff of garlic, and there was enough wine, cheese and galettes to sink a battleship.
After a moving welcome speech, the Mayor of Cherbourg had everyone on their feet for a standing ovation when he presented Henry with a commemorative bronze medal.
“We will never forget the men who chose to make the ultimate sacrifice to put an end to the darkest period in our history,” he said. “Your sacrifice allowed us to work for peace.
“We are proud of your presence in Cherbourg on this historic day. Thank you for our freedom,” he added.
After such an emotional evening, it seems churlish to strike a sour note, but I feel I have to. The red, white and blue theme of the evening was carried through with countless displays of American Stars and Stripes and French Tricoleurs.
A few Canadian Maple Leaf flags looked as if they had been added as an afterthought and the only Union Flags on display were a handful draped around a bicycle on display at the end of a counter top.
The few British passengers who are among those making the 11-day “Memories of World War II” cruise would have been justified in asking why they were not better represented.

By | 2014-06-08T09:51:01+00:00 8 June 2014|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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