D-Day, 70 Years Ago

"D-Day"June 6th 1944 saw the largest amphibious military assault in history. I saw someone say that they were humbled to hear the veterans talk of their D-Day experiences, and humbling is indeed the word…

Many of the men were call up troops – not career soldiers, but men who had been taken away from their civilian lives to fight in the war.

On that day they arrived in Normandy, many of them suffering from sea sickness, many of them filled with terror, all of them wondering if they would be among the thousands they knew would die.

Many of them indeed did not come back, and when I saw ‘many’ I mean many thousands, either killed as soon as they left the boats, or got to the beach, or got to the cliffs. As you read this article, imagine yourself in a cramped basic military craft, buffeted by the waves for mile after mile, approaching the beach knowing that a wave of guns waited for you.

It was a huge turning point in the war, and if we can’t remember what others did on the 70th anniversary, I’d call that a sorry state of affairs.

Some people say we are wrong to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, that we are wrong to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I say ‘nonsense’.

It’s not a celebration as in ‘party’, it’s a celebration as in ‘marking’ and ‘remembering’.

The size of the operation was staggering. All the intelligence efforts to trick the Nazis into thinking the invasion would come on a different day at a different place. That took massive risks from spies, huge effort from code breaking teams.

Then the operation had to be prepared for, gathering 150,000 troops and the ships to carry them without the enemy knowing, and that meant deceptive set ups across the south coast. That ‘backroom’ operation was just as vital as the men splashing towards the beaches on June 6th.

Wade up to the beach they did though, if they hadn’t already been killed. I do find it hard to actually imagine myself in that position – I’ve had an easy life, there is no doubt. It’s one of the reasons I often write about appreciating the abundance we have around us, and today is a day for such appreciation.

That abundance comes on the back of efforts like that of the troops 70 years ago, which didn’t just last a day. Tomorrow, we’ll be back to ‘normal’, looking forward to the football maybe, or the next Star Wars film maybe. 70 years ago though, the troops kept on fighting. The next day too, and the next, and the next, you get the idea.

Take a few seconds out of your day today, and think about the D-Day landings back in 1944. Think of how scared the men must have been. Think of the ones whose lives ended that day.

If you think we shouldn’t be marking events like this, I’m not one of those that say ‘keep it to yourself’ – I say tell me if you want to, and I’ll be telling you why you’re wrong.

D-Day 70 years ago.

Ok, that’s it for today, do let me know what you think.

‘Til next time,
Health & happiness,

Do leave a comment!

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  • Thanks for posting this Gordon.
    We should remember what sacrifices have been made for us. My Dad (in the Royal Engineers) took part in the Normandy invasion. He was never one to talk about his wartime experiences – if he said anything it was usually a funny story to amuse us as children and nothing about the horrors of war. However when I was older he did once tell me that they were on the boats for 3 days waiting for the go ahead to make the crossing. He also said he lost a lot of good mates that day. (My Dad passed away in 1999, aged 86). Alayna

    • I never heard anything from either of my Grandfathers about the war, so have no way of relating to it in a perasonal way.
      That’s why I think it’s important for people like me without any personal connection to remember what these people did. They fought for people they never met, people like me, and we need to remember what they did.

  • Very important poignant post! My grandfather was in the Marine Corps, but I never heard him tell any stories of D-Day. He did tell about how he was transferred off one of the ships in Pearl Harbor two weeks before the battle there – amazing. But I agree with you, D-Day was definitely a HUGE turning point in the war – one we would all be wise to remember. Thank you for your post!

    • Thanks Kristen,
      Hard to imagine what it must have been like to actually go through it.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  • Great insight. Many people are quick to forget where came from not knowing that our past dictates our future. It is important to remember such days and the values that come along with them.

    • Indeed so, Billy, and you are right that’s it a good reminder of values. Well worth anyone’s time to contemplate.

  • This reminds of the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. When I first watched the movie, I could not help wondering how the soldiers would be able to survive a beach assault that was heavily fortified. The image is still fresh in my mind as I read your post. Hopefully, there will never be another world war again.

    • Yes Boon,
      I found myself thinking about how the individuals felt in the boats as they approached – packed together, many of them sea sick, knowing full well the horrors that were waiting for them.

  • Indeed, it was a great sacrifice, but not one that many of the participants wanted. Moreover, I doubt we’d be able to muster the same degree of compliance today. It troubles me that we live in a civilised society that still glorifies war. Of course these people showed courage but I look forward to the day when we have no need for such celebrations.

    • I suspect the day when we no need such events is a long way off. Human nature dictates that the power hungry will take whatever they can unless they are stopped.
      I see anniversaries such as Friday as less of glorification, more remembering. Remembering the civilians ripped from their lives and put in a horror scene, which for many ended in death a long way from home.