Normandy villagers protest British D-Day memorial because it "cuts the view over the sea"
Several residents of Ver-sur-Mer are against the memorial because of the influx of tourists it will trigger and the impact of it on the environment.
Residents of a coastal French village are protesting a decision that will see a monument erected to honor the soldiers who laid their lives down on D-Day during the Allied invasion of Normandy, which eventually triggered the liberation of German-occupied France, and later Europe.
The Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, were arguably the most significant point of World War II and would eventually shift the tide in the Allies' favor by laying the foundations for their victory on the Western Front.
But the human cost of the operation — which was the largest seaborne invasion in history — would prove heavy.
According to the Daily Mail, 22,442 troops under British command, including those from the US and Canada, died during the fight to drive German forces out of France. To commemorate their lives, Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are set to lay the foundation stone for the monument on the 75th anniversary of the landings this coming June.
The project is expected to cost £20 million ($25.85 million) and will see three 440-kilo, 9-foot statues of advancing soldiers and a long wall inscribed with the names of all the dead placed on 47 acres of land overlooking Gold Beach close to the town of Ver-sur-Mer.
It's a move which has been praised by Prince Charles, who said it was "a long overdue British memorial... to the service personnel who gave their lives in the summer of 1944." Britain is the only country involved in the D-Day invasion of France to not have a memorial at Normandy.
However, some of the residents of Ver-sur-Mer had a different view. The Mail reported that they are concerned the memorial will see a massive influx of tourists to their small town — which has a population of just over 1,500 according to a 2014 census — and are worried about the environmental impact of a mooted car park.
Speaking about the project, Maxi Krause, a retired professor who helped stage a protest against the memorial, was quoted saying, "We owe the Allies, including the British, boundless gratitude. It’s not about that. There is already a British cemetery at Bayeux with an enormous lawn around it where they could have put the pillars that they plan with the names engraved on them."
"This project is so monstrous. It’s like a supermarket from the point of view of its size," she continued. "There’ll be a wall more than seven meters high and 30 meters wide looking on to the sea. That cuts the view over the sea. It’s completely stupid. We are one of the only villages on the coast that is not spoilt by tourism."
However, it seems like the town's mayor, Philippe Onillon, is a supporter of the memorial. He is said to be confident of getting approval for the memorial by April 15 at the latest.
Onillon said he believed the majority would favor the project because "it's always the opponents who come forward" and that "there was no reason to worry" because "it will be a magnificent landscape of lawns, trees, and flowers."