Friday, 6 June 2014

The 70th.




It may well be that you have had your fill of D-Day commemorations.   I had the TV on since early morn watching  the BBC's coverage of the events in France.  There can be no doubt that this British led operation was a historic event.  Had it failed, and it could have cost 40,000 lives, not 9000, it would have taken another few years before a second attempt could be made.  By that time Stalin may well have been in Paris!  General Bernard Montgomery, given little prominence today, was the man responsible for the operation.  This was the last great operation of the British during the war.  A second plan, at Arnhem, might well have shortened the war but that failed!  However this one worked, a beachhead was established, Canadian, British, American troops all took the beaches in front of them, in spite of some determined resistance in areas, and the difficulties many endured.  Also arriving were smaller contingents of Dutch, Polish and other nations who were determined to defeat an evil empire. How strange I always find it that people will spend money to watch Hollywood pap in which an evil force is defeated yet will not read about real situations in which a really evil force is opposed.  Fantasy horror is better than reality.  
My father was not involved in this event, although he crossed the Rhine some time later but only after waiting two days while the armour went over! However on our local memorial we find Flight Sergeant Dennis J Sims of 234 Squadron did not return while on low flying duties over the enemy coast.  Gunner Kenneth Puttick fighting alongside No 6 Commando is recorded as dying on the 7th. He is buried at Ranville Cemetery, Ranville being the first village liberated after 'Pegasus Bridge' was held. Nearby lies Private Arthur Graham attached to the 7th Paras.  His date of death is given as the tenth and he like many others died in the intense fighting that followed D-Day.  Few realise that more people were killed during the last year of the war than in the four previous years.
Watching the dignitaries gathering, some with military experience, some who endured the war, I appreciated the need for formality and organisation, not least of all security, but found the clean, smart people, cheery and happy all around somewhat at variance with the clips of war film shown.  The young men running up the beach had thoughts very different from those of us watching from the comfort of home.  We often sentimentalise such men rather than treat them as human beings.  We always refer to them as 'brave,' 'heroes,' and identify them as different from ourselves.  To some extent this is true, however they are men, not all were 'heroes,' few were 'brave,' all were under military orders, some would not be people we would want living next door.  Without this invasion however the world would not be rid of Hitler and his crazy gang.  The Nazi hordes enslaved their own people and such slavery can be found worldwide today in many nations.  Sadly all too often we do not see it!
Those men interviewed on TV today looked happy.  Many were happy to be there as such a gathering cannot occur again, the organisation behind it ceases to exist as the aged soldiers fade away.  Ordinary men from everyday homes did extraordinary things and freed the world of a tyranny.  We cannot forget this, and our prosperity today has a great deal to do with their action in the air, on the sea and on land that day 70 years ago.   


8 comments:

Lee said...

I thought it quite wonderful the Scotsman Jock Hutton, now at the age of 89took part in the jump with the Red Devils from around 5,000ft above Normandy; his way to commemorate the 70th anniversary. Jock was only 19 years of age when he was one of the first Allied soldiers to land in occupied France on D-Day 1944.

I never forget D-Day, 6th June...because 16 years ago on 6th June my older brother passed away.

Carol in Cairns said...

You did not mention the air support provided by the Australians.

Jenny Woolf said...

Sometimes when I read the tales of ordinary people and what they did, I just can't believe it. What a different life. I now understand a little bit my that generation felt entitled to grumble a bit about what the world was coming to! I think at one time they felt quite marginalised.

Adullamite said...

Lee, That is typical of the man.

Carol, I didn't!

Jenny, I think the sixties confused many.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

British-led? Considering Montgomery as being the man most responsible for the Normandy landings while not considering Operation Market Garden/Arnhem to be a major British operation, which is one that Montgomery really did primarily plan? I must say that I am very disappointed in you, my friend.

the fly in the web said...

I've had mother on the blower re the coverage of the commemoration...between the fizzing noises I gather she was not too pleased at the bigwigs keeping the old boys waiting, nor, amidst more fizzing, was she enchanted by the performance of a troupe of dancers...clearly the freedom to prance in tights was not what she underwent years of being bombed for...

She remembers seeing the lorries full of troops heading for the south coast...ordinary people proving that they are extraordinary.
Pity our modern masters only want ordinary people to be extraordinary when it comes to fighting their illegal wars....

Adullamite said...

Jerry, I said Monty planned both, and the European war was indeed British led.

Fly, I managed to miss that part as I got fed up with the toffs arriving. French organisation for you!

Kay G. said...

I was in England 10 years ago for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. I wanted to be there this year but we were not able to make it.
Like you, I want to watch every minute of it. (And some that I didn't have time to watch, I have recorded it and will watch it this week.) I am most interested in the veteran's stories of what they did in World War II. I know that many of them dislike being called "The Greatest Generation" (a term coined by an American journalist) as they like to say that they were doing their job and watching out for their fellow soldier, this was perfectly captured in the Stephen Ambrose book "Band of Brothers".