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The Anglo-French Relationship

Nick DanzigerNick Danziger.
The photojournalist Nick Danziger has taken a series of pictures on the theme of the Anglo-French relationship for the Today programme. To mark the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Nick's collection opens with Normandy Veterans.

View Series 1: the Normandy Veterans gallery.
View Series 2: the Military gallery.
View Series 3: the Moulin Rouge gallery.
View Series 4: the Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair gallery.
View Series 5: the Millau Bridge gallery.
View Series 6: the Nyetimber Vineyard gallery.

View a gallery of larger images.

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Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery
War veteran Alan Moore & his wife Susanne War veteran Geoffrey Sneezam from 1 Commando Arromanches Beach, Normandy
Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery
Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches Beach, Normandy French gardener Sam Amicel at Ranville cemetery British war veteran Ken Brighton at Cambes-en-Plaine cemetery
Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery
Miles Hunt, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission War veteran Tommy Parry & his French wife Renee Madame Arlette Goudré-Pritchett who runs Café Gondre at Pegasus Bridge
Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery. Click here to visit the Anglo-French Relationship gallery
British Army cemetery, Ranville, Normandy British Army cemetery, Ranville, Normandy The village of Ranville, Normandy
Copyright of Nick Danziger/NB Pictures

Picture 1: Alan landed at Arromanches with the Royal Ordinance Army Corps in June 1944. "I didn't get to see much of France, just a church and a big hole in the middle of the road," says Alan. "I just wanted to go home to England - and I have now been here in France for 57 years!" He moved to Germany in 1945 where he was wounded and lost the sight of an eye. Alan met his wife Susanne on her birthday whilst he was on guard duty. His regiment was staying in her father's workshop. After the war, he returned to England but only for two months as he then returned to France to find her. "She accepted to be my wife; I had to ask her with the help of a dictionary," Alan says. "I was demobilised in '46. I came back to get her. She wanted to see what it was like in England - it was difficult to get visas in those days, I paid for the trip to England and she paid for the return trip." Susanne had this to say about Alan: "I have never managed to fatten him up. The British are more cautious, reserved, and they are more respectful of the Highway Code. There were six marriages to British soldiers from the street, but four couples have left for England."

Picture 2: Geoffrey Sneezam arrived with 1 Commando on 6th June 1942, but 15 minutes after arriving, got the signal to retreat. He was on three boats which all sank in the English Channel. He and his late wife called their house 'Little England'. "It was my wife's insistence on calling our home 'Little England' after part of the village in the West of England in which I owned a little house," Geoffrey Sneezam says. Before he signed up for the war he was working in a bank in Sudbury, "I was not glad about the war, but I was glad to get out the bank," he remarked. He met his wife when he travelled on a bus from Dieppe to Ranville. The bus arrived late and they congregated at the local town hall where he was assigned a house at which he could be a guest. His wife was the daughter of the owner of the house and already had three children. Once they decided to settle in France, Geoffrey Sneezam said he wanted something new. "I don't miss anything about the UK. France is so different from England - people say it's the wine and food - I like the countryside."

Picture 3: Gold beach at Arromanches in Normandy, where many British troops landed in the war.

Picture 4: The remains of Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches beach. The objects in the distance are what's left of the floating harbour constructed to give the town protection from the waves. They were also used to unload supplies from ships and had to be able to be driven over by trucks carrying equipment. Cement-filled block ships called Gooseberries were used as breakwaters on all beaches. Great concrete boxes called caissons were sunk inside the ring of Gooseberries to form a solid wall.

Picture 5: Sam Amicel is a 32 year old gardener for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. He said: "It's a strange and emotional place - they died during the war to save us - it's still emotional".

Picture 6: WWII veteran Ken Brighton lives locally in France. He says he has some family in England but couldn't go back to the British way of living: "the food!" he exclaims. His French wife died last year so now he does all his own cooking, some French food and some British. "I still do the Yorkshire puddings on Sundays. The French way of life is a bit smoother, not accelerated. I can watch the BBC with satellite; what more could I want?"

Ken came out of the British Army in 1947 and began working on the graves at Bayeux. "It hit me pretty hard - a lady came in with her child who had never seen her father - we had to sit them down on a seat. Even coming out of the British Army it hit me very hard."

In 1951 he switched to horticulture and subsequently became head gardener. He says that there are 12,000 British war graves in France covering nine hectares, and tended by two Englishman and 11 French gardeners. "It feels like a corner of England. A flutter of pride every time you go in. Hard to let go… sorry to retire."

Picture 7: Miles Hunt started working for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1976. His father worked for the commission in 1965 - before that he was a bus driver. Miles now has a family over in France and says that his children are European.

Picture 8: Scouser Tommy Parry was in the Scots Regiment, Fife of Forfar Yeomanry, part of the 11th armoured division. He saw action on the four days between 20th -24th June during the battle for Normandy. He only knew one word of French when he landed, "Oui". He also jokes with his wife Rénée that he knew one other phrase, "Voulez-vous couches avec moi." "Liar," says Renee laughing, "You were so shy." They met when Renee was working in a local café, The Majestic, during the last week of April 1945. They had dinner together with another British soldier Johnny Blondel and Madeleine, a friend of Renee's. They married on 27 October 1945 and have two children Claudine and Martine. Tommy was demobilised in England in 1947. Renee wanted to remain in France. In France, Tommy took odd-jobs including one as an iron worker. He eventually went to work for what was then the Imperial War Graves Commission. "I live in France but my heart is English. There was camaraderie at the time that no longer exists. I like the French lifestyle; you eat well, I have a cordon blue chef at home! But with a bit of whisky." "Every year we went to England and I would listen to the BBC and Alastair Cooke. I like lemon curd but you can now even buy that at the local Marche U. I like fried eggs, tea and I love pickled onions and marmalade. I support Everton and Auxerre." They have lived in the same house for 40 years. They have a budgerigar and have made their home a corner of old England.

Picture 9: Madame Arlette Goudré-Pritchett runs the Café Goudre at Pegasus Bridge. She has collected memorabilia from times gone by and decorated her café with them.

Picture 10: British Army cemetery in Ranville, Normandy where there are 12,000 headstones of British service personnel.

Picture 11: An up-close picture of the headstones in the cemetery in Ranville, Normandy.

Picture 12: The village of Ranville, Normandy where paratroopers landed. There is a memorial to those soldiers on the village's church tower.

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Gallery 1: Normandy Veterans

Gallery 2: Military

Gallery 3: Moulin Rouge

Gallery 4: Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair

Gallery 5: Millau Bridge

Gallery 6: Nyetimber Vineyard


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