Normandy Chateau Housed Famous Journalist Camp

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VOUILLY, France—Some of the biggest names in journalism camped out in tents in front of a medieval chateau while covering the epic battles of the 1944 Normandy campaign.

In the weeks following the D-Day invasion, a chateau in Vouilly was the scene of the First Army’s U.S. press camp.  Famous names lived in tents in front of the chateau while covering the battle:  Ernest Hemingway, Walter Cronkite, Robert Capa Andy Rooney, Ernie Pyle, to name just a few.

During the recent 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, chateau owner James Hamel hosted members of the press, saying that his family owned the castle since 1934–until the Germans confiscated it after France fell.  “My mother was forced to live in one part of the chateau, while the Germans occupied other parts,” he said.

The journalists slept in tents, while First U.S. Army commander Omar Bradley made the chateau his headquarters for a short time.  A plaque attached to the front of the chateau says the press camp existed from June 10 to Aug. 10, 1944.

In the chateau’s large dining room, Bradley gathered journalists for press conferences.  In the library, the chateau has pictures of the famous journalists and a tactical map of the Normandy landing sites, plus airstrips and other then-sensitive information.  “Sometimes, [the military] would cover up parts of the map during press conferences,” Hamel said.

After the war, Hamel, who was a young boy during the occupation—and too young to remember much–said journalists would return to the chateau.  “[Journalist] John Morris spent four days here for the 70th anniversary,” said Hamel, who holds a copy of “The D-Day Visitor’s Handbook” in front of chateau (above photo).

Chateau Remains Quiet Place to Stay

Vouilly, situated in a strategic valley, was the site of a Roman camp.  The first castle was built in stone around the time of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, according to the chateau’s website.

The chateau is a quiet place to lodge near La Cambe German cemetery, the airborne drop zones/Utah Beach and other D-Day sites.

Other facts about the chateau:

  • The chateau’s rose garden, created in 1750, features two pavilions.
  • The chateau, now a hotel, features four spacious rooms and free Wi-Fi.
  • The chateau is close to good restaurants in Isigny (about 7 kilometers away from the chateau).
  • The closest point to the English Channel is Grandcamp Maisy (12 kilometers away from the chateau).

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