CARABELLE & THE FORGOTTEN COAST, FLORIDA
Updated: Aug 15
While in the 'Forgotten Coast', we had time to pay a visit to Apalachicola's plainer, less interesting sister, Carrabelle (a great name for a filly on the racecourse, Sandie suggested. Better than 'Apalachicola' - the race would be over before the commentator got it right: Ed.). This small town, which would blend in nicely in Cape Cod, on the mouth of its eponymous river, is more about boating than people - in fact we hardly saw a soul. You could drive through it in the blink of an eye.The most interesting thing about it was its gloriously long beach. It was here that the US Forces, for years, trained for the D-Day Landings on the beaches of Normandy; these brave young soldiers were to leave the safety of the Florida beaches to for the infamous Utah, Omaha, Juno, Sword and Gold Beaches. However, it seems bitterly ironic that over 800 American soldiers were cruelly and unjustly to die in the top-secret Operation Tiger on 28th April 1944 on Slapton Sands in the UK in a D-Day rehearsal that went disastrously wrong. It was one of the biggest fiascos of the War when the US Forces headed out into the English Channel to turn around to land on the long Devon beaches, 'defended' by the Brits. However, the Allied Navy failed to give the US boats the cover they planned and an enormous flotilla of German vessels appeared and picked off the landing craft at will. And it got worse. Through a terrible mix-up, British troops then fired live shells on the surviving forces as they came back ashore and hundreds more US troops were killed by friendly fire. All this remained a carefully guarded secret for decades.
But, as we leave to head East, our memories of this coast are only happy ones. George's Island was a delight, with its endless beaches, sand-dunes and seaside homes. We particularly liked the name of one new house, which boldly, simply -and honestly - displayed on the plate out front - "Daddy's Money". Perhaps that was the old man's condition of funding it.
It was a privilege to be accepted into the Apalachacola community for a few wonderful days, to explore this small fishing town, to savor its delicious oysters, and to meet and talk to the likes of John Lee (a great friend of actor John Hurt) in his eclectic Tupelo Honey store. To visit this town is to be taken back to a bygone American era. It was moving to visit the shady graveyard where they give you a leaflet guiding you round the graves of the most interesting citizens, interred below ground, with a brief life story of each.and so many very young children in their pathetic, tiny resting places.
Carrabelle Beach - scene of D-Day Landing training
Recording the role of the US Forces in WWII.
An auspicious sign - a white squirrel in Carrabelle (apologies for picture quality, taken on I-phone - the bloody thing kept running away)
The tomb of a distant forefather
The irrepressible John Lee in his store
John Lee's unmissable store in the main street
Cheers! Merry Christmas to you!