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,