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  • Des & Sandie Nichols

CARABELLE & THE FORGOTTEN COAST

Updated: Oct 26, 2020


It is time to leave Apalachicola. Today we head west along the coast road to Destin, just under 3 hours away.

Yesterday we had time to pay a courteous visit to Apalachicola's plainer, less interesting sister, Carrabelle (a great name for a filly on the racecourse we thought. Better than 'Apalachicola' - the race would be over before the commentator got that 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 did not see a soul. You could drive through it in the blink of an eye. We found the most interesting thing about it was its 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 our memories of this coast, the Forgotten Coast, are only happy ones. George 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. So many very young children in their pathetic, tiny resting places.

So now it is Destination Destin. We shall settle in for Christmas and New Year while we plan our next moves. A New Year beckons... stay with us, please. It is lovely to share these days with you.

Carrabelle

Carrabelle

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)

Apalachicola Cemetery

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!


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