Camp Arizona, Normandy: Where Collectors Pay Tribute to WWII American Soldiers

By David Vives

We are nowhere near Phoenix, or the United States. But we can’t really say we’re in France either.

This is a country of collectors; 500 of them, coming across Europe, to the small town of Carentan.

Singers in Normandy
Trio singers at Camp Arizona, Normandy, France, on June 7, 2019. (David Vives/NTD)

“Five Airborne Americans landed on my husband’s grand-parent’s house during World War II. Here in Normandy, WWII is engraved in every person’s history,” said Sylvie Caillard, the camp manager.

Machine guns, rifles, tanks. These old machines are not always easy to maneuver. You’d better be a mechanic to be able to deal with old cars running out of gas. It’s not easy to find spare parts for an old navy car, but at Arizona Camp, everybody seems to speak the same language and is ready to give a hand.

There are a lot of American uniforms. Even inside, you can find the French, the British or the Dutch. The role of the American soldier is performed playfully, but also with a lot of respect.

Camp Arizona-
A collector dressed as an American soldier near a WWII machine gun on June 7, 2019 at Camp Arizona in Normandy, France. (David Vives/NTD)

“They weren’t professional trained soldiers like they are today. Those were just people with a six weeks’ training that were sent to war,” said David Benley, a collector who travelled there from Manchester.

The camp functions as a living memory; 75 years after WWII, here, the war appears vivid to the soldiers who lived there.