If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cambes en Plaine

Just down the road from where we are staying is a war cemetery, in the village of Cambes en Plaine. This afternoon, as we had an hour or so to fill, we took a stroll down the unmade road to pay a visit.

On 9 June 1944, the village was liberated by the 2nd Bn The Royal Ulster Rifles, and those who fell in the operation were buried here - just over 200 young men, by my count. There are many of these small and unassuming cemeteries throughout the villages of Normandy, and visiting them is a humbling and moving experience. The silence and feeling of peace is overwhelming.

Next door to the war cemetery is the cemetery for the village. The gates were locked owing, as the notice from the Mairie said, to vandalism. But it was possible to look over the hedge and into the cemetery, and see many graves, carefully-tended, laid out almost haphazardly beneath a grove of trees. On a quiet and still afternoon, with the sun beating down and only the distant noise of traffic to disturb the silence, I reflected that there are surely worse fates than to be laid to rest in such a peaceful and well-tended place.


  1. "Please don’t lower your voices as if your in some kind of pain.
    I can’t tell you how pleased we are to see you come back here again.

    There’s no need to stop yourself laughing, we all of us like a good joke.
    We used to laugh quite a lot in those days, despite all the noise and the smoke.

    We’re glad that you come here to see us. We like to see friends old and new.
    So laugh and talk as much as you like we wish we could come to see you.

    So please don’t lower your voices. We’re aware of the pain that you feel.
    It’s no worse than ours, I can tell you, and yours is the one that can heal."
    George Sewell

    Did you go to the German Cemetry at La Cambe? The children from Germany tend the graves and stay with French families. lt is a place of hope.

  2. I like the poem very much - thank you for taking the time to post it. I haven't been to La Cambe but I will look out for it next time.


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