The 75th anniversary of D-Day
In 1944 France was an occupied country. Hitler and his forces had made their way steadily through Europe by the early 1940s. His intention, of course, was to cross the channel to England.
The Allied Forces made the biggest invasion in history on 6 June 1944, attacking en masse to take the occupying forces by storm. Made up of US, Canadian and British forces from land, sea and air, 160,000 personnel landed and began to dismantle the German war machine.
The Brits landed at Gold and Sword beaches, the Canadians at Juno beach and the US forces at Utah and Omaha, all on the Normandy coast.
6 June 2019 will see the 75th anniversary of this truly significant historical event.
SorryMate’s Solicitor Liz Hoskin will partake in the anniversary celebrations
One of SorryMate’s solicitors, Liz Hoskin, will be riding through Normandy to take part in the anniversary celebrations and to visit some of the remarkable sights and museums along the way, and staying at a campsite on Utah beach itself.
There are reminders of German occupation throughout the area, from concrete bunkers with bullet pockmarks to mass graveyards, poignant reminders of those many who lost their lives in the conflict.
Liz will be riding with Bike Tours for the Wounded, a not-for-profit organisation which enables wounded, sick and injured service personnel and veterans to ride pillion to take part in the anniversary and to visit the sights. This year they will also be joined by some U.S. veterans for the first time.
Please click here for more information about Bike Tours for the Wounded. To find out more information about the D-Day Normandy Challenge, please click here. For more updates and news on our charity work, click here.
An update and photographs will follow after Liz returns from her trip!
SorryMate’s Liz has always dreamt of taking a Harley Davidson down route-66.
As far as ‘bucket-list’ activities go, riding a Harley-Davidson along Route 66 is every biker’s dream. For one SorryMate employee, this route was no exception. Liz, one of SorryMate’s best solicitors, fortunately, had the opportunity to visit the famous route. The trip was done through an organisation called Bike Tours for the Wounded, which SorryMate supports.
What is Bike Tours for the Wounded?
Bikes Tours are a not-for-profit community company which provides unique opportunities for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to ride pillion on motorcycle tours. Each pillion is offered a funded place, the money donated by the general public, supporters, and fundraising activities throughout the year.
Who went on the tour?
A total of nine beneficiaries flew out with us to Las Vegas on 17 August, together with the riders. At the time of the flight, only two of whom Liz already knew. It was fairly frantic for Liz getting to know them all at Gatwick Airport!
What motorcycle did Liz ride?
After a long flight from Gatwick to America, it was straight onto the motorcycles. Liz successfully managed to complete a few things off her bucket list. Including,
- Ridding a Harley Davidson for the first time
- Ridding a bike in a feet-forward position
- and using an open face helmet for riding
The motorcycle itself was a massive clunky 1600cc machine. It was quite a bit of a shock to the system for Liz to try something so different, especially after a long haul flight.
How long was Liz riding for each day?
Liz was riding for a total of ten days through a small part of the United States. During these ten days, she was riding an average of 200 miles per day. If that doesn’t sound gruelling enough, some of those days were spent travelling through the desert. Temperatures could reach up to 45 degrees. In addition to this, Liz also met America’s famous busy interstate roads, forests and violent thunderstorms.
However, there were, of course, some very beautiful spots. There were the iconic long straight seemingly never-ending roads, lovely long sweeping bends (particularly in the Angeles mountains, perhaps the best riding road ever) and some sharp twisties too.
What was Liz’s most memorial part of the trip?
Liz was riding between the two towns of Alpine and Blythe in California. The group decided to stop for lunch at a small place called Julian. The town had a population of about 1500, so it’s very small by American standards. During lunch, the group had been told the story of John Baca.
Who is John Baca?
As a young man, John Baca was in and out of trouble. Like so many others, he joined the US Army. John was in the Cavalry out in Vietnam in February 1970. Whilst leading his team through enemy territory, a grenade was thrown into the middle of the patrol.
Fully aware of the danger to his comrades, Baca covered the grenade with his steel helmet and then threw himself onto it. As the grenade exploded, the lethal fragments were absorbed by his body. Despite being able to see his own intestines through the wound, his first thought was that his mother would be cross with him. He had just spoken to her earlier that day called to tell her that he was fine and well.
John made a long and painful recovery and continues to give his time and energy to work with veterans and the homeless in the US and in Vietnam. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The whole group were given memorial coins to remember this story of bravery.
This wasn’t the only story which stuck with Liz
Whilst travelling along Route-66, Liz noted that a lot of sections of the interstates between Las Vegas and Victorville were donated to those who have served. The first interstate was“Dedicated to the veterans of World War I”. This went on right through to the final sign which relates to “the global war on terror”.
Bike Tours for the Wounded visited two different legions
Bike Tours were the guests of two different legion posts. The first, at Heber-Overgaard, was a large ramshackle building. It was very lively with music and dancing. Regular visitors include a WWII veteran in his mid-90’s, who has only very recently swapped his motorcycle for a trike. He did this because it is easier to carry his wife’s oxygen tanks that way….
The second legion post the group went to was at Holbrook. It is very different as it was dark with a cramped basement room. However, it was also lively and the group were treated with such respect and hospitality throughout our journey.
Bike Tours for the Wounded aims to kick-start recovery for ex-service veterans
After the tour, Liz asked one of the pillion passengers, for his summary of the event and its benefits. The veteran she spoke to is currently attending the Naval Service Recovery Centre due to hip and lower back injuries sustained in 2015. He is an artilleryman in 29 Commando Regiment.
He described the tour as a much-needed chance to take his mind off the daunting prospect of medical discharge from the Army. It was also a chance to challenge himself mentally. The trip is a high-adrenaline setting, but also within breathtaking scenery. and with great camaraderie with the whole group.
A much-needed break
Bike Tours for the wounded aims to help veterans and servicemen/women. The tour is intended to ease the veterans’ problems for at least a short while. The long term aim is that it will kick start their recovery. For many, it’s a much needed mental and physical break. Serving isn’t an easy task, nor is the transition back to being a civilian. Many veterans often feel isolated after serving. However, Bike Tours for the wounded gives veterans a chance to get out, make friends and enjoy life.
SorryMate‘s Liz and husband, Mik set off on a motorbike challenge to do America’s world-famous route 66 in order to help wounded service personnel.
What is Bike Tours for the Wounded?
Bike Tours for The Wounded, also known as BT4TW, is an organisation which provides the opportunity for the wounded, sick or injured a chance to experience the famous route 66 as a pillion. The amazing tour makes several stops at some of the most iconic attractions in America’s ‘Mother Road’.
Liz and Mik will first make a small detour
Liz and Mik will first be heading to Normandy next month for their first challenge. Following this will be their challenge in America in August. The couple will be doing it to support Bike Tours for the Wounded. Liz is looking forward to help in their own way.
Liz stated that: “The aim is to support individuals with their rehabilitation, through a unique programme, enabling them to ride pillion on motorcycle tours in the UK, Europe and the USA“
The not-for-profit organisation aims to provide the opportunity for 52 servicemen
Bike Tours for The Wounded is an organisation which aims to offer funded places are offered to individuals from all ranks Each year. The organisation strive to provide the opportunity for 52 servicemen, servicewomen and veterans. They offer three different trips: D-Day sites at Normandy, Route 66 or an amazing tour of the Wild West.
Bike Tours for The Wounded relies heavily upon the numerous fundraising activities, and generous donations from the general public. The motorcycle trip has been proven to be extremely beneficial to those who have taken part in varying stages of their rehabilitation process.
Liz stated that “This is only possible because of supporters and volunteer riders. We’ll ride to Normandy on our own motorcycles, and then ride Route 66 with hired Harley Davidsons.”
SorryMate love to support multiple Bike charities
We absolutely love to support many different motorcycle charities and events. If you would like to read more about what we do, click here, to find our charitable updates.