Motorcycle trip to northern France to remember D-Day landings

Somerset County Gazette: GORDON Kemp who is organising a trip to Normandy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. PHOTO: Geoff Hall. GORDON Kemp who is organising a trip to Normandy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. PHOTO: Geoff Hall.

A MOTORCYCLE trip is being organised for later this year to northern France to celebrate the connections between the West Country and the Normandy Landings.

Gordon Kemp, a former traffic police motorcycle officer, has been running motorcycle trips all over the globe since 1982.

The trip coincides with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and there are still a few places available for anyone interested.

Gordon said: “I’m really interested in modern history, and there are so many local connections to both the first and second world wars here in Somerset that many people just don’t know about.

“There are many D-Day casualties buried in the cemetery near Musgrove Park Hospital, which was used as an American army hospital and was occupied by the US Army Medical Corps.”

Gordon is being helped with the planning by Ted Curtis, a local Second World War historian and motorcyclist.

Gordon said: “I’m really interested in modern history.

“I’ve been over to Normandy before and found it fascinating.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in the first and second world wars at the moment which has been growing as the anniversaries get nearer.

“My father was in the Second World War and he shared some of his stories with me.

“I think that’s the most important bit – sharing the stories so they’re remembered.”

The trip, which already has 40 motorcyclists signed up from Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, leaves Taunton on June 5 before travelling to Dunkeswell airstrip.

“The airport was one of many airfields the American Screaming Eagles took off from on the start of what would become ‘The Longest Day’.

“We’re hoping the local re-enactment group will see us off and we can meet up with a man from Churchinford who was born on DDay and is called Bill D-Day Parks, who will be in France taking part in the celebrations,” Gordon added. 

As well as travelling along the Normandy coast, visiting Sword, Juno and other landing beaches, there will be visits to museums and war cemeteries.

Gordon said: “Whenever I visit a cemetery I try to find someone with the last name Kemp or Gordon, and I get the others to do so.

“I’ve seen grown men shed tears when they find their name – it makes it more relatable.”

For more details about the trip email gordon.kemp@virgin.net

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