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63rd Anniversary of D-Day

eebee's picture

This is a nod of thanks and memorial to the poor souls who either perished, or lived through the nightmare of the pivotal battle to liberate France at D-Day on 6th June 1944.

 

An article in my homecounty's newspaper, the Dorset Echo, has a little write up about the many boats that left Dorset's Weymouth Harbour to cross the English Channel:

 

"The harbour of Weymouth was crowded with ships of every size, shape and description, most of them flying the stars and stripes.

"On the evening of June 5 the harbour came alive. I could see one ship signalling to the other that this was it.

"We would hit the beach the next morning at 6.30am, June 6th 1944, to be called D-Day."

 

This is spine-tingling to me, as I was born in Poole, near Weymouth, and my Great Uncle David was one of two out of his whole regiment of 40-odd, who survived D-Day. Naturally, when he was alive, he didn't want to talk much about that day. In my early twenties I lived in Normandy, France. During a beach trip one day I saw these ugly, barnacle-ridden slabs out just past wading-depth in the ocean off the beach of Arromanches. Naively I proclaimed "The beach would be so much prettier without those ugly things!". When I heard that those were the very same D-Day landing platforms that had been used in 1944 and had been left there ever since, my attitude quickly changed to "What a beautiful, chilling sight". I don't know how hard it would be to try to shift those puppies, but I'm so glad the French decided to leave them there. Also still in tact up on the cliffs are the foxholes that housed various German weapons. Even as a head-firmly-stuck-in-the-sand 22 year old, I found it impossible not to be moved, feeling surrounded by the whispers of so many young men, on both sides of the war, whose lives ended abruptly on that windy beach. In Normandy back in the 1980s, many an elderly person would come up to me and, to my bewilderment, shake my hand, uttering in a garbled Patois, a very passionate 'Thank you' to the British, American and Canadians who helped liberate them.

 

Saving Private Ryan didn't seem to impact me as much as others I have spoken to who have seen the movie. I believe this is because I caught hints of the horror when visiting these sites in Normandy 20 years ago. The French have indeed succeeded in creating some WWII monuments, which will crack even the most emotionally-reserved visitors. Flags of Our Fathers, however, is a movie that came closest to making me feel immersed in the crazy terror of such WWII battles. These movies never fail to get my mind off of any trivial problem I'm stuck ruminating about!

 

 

Comments

eebee's picture

Mulberries Crucial to D-Day Success

Here's more from historic-uk.com, about those floating temporary docks. They were hollow concrete caissons, floated out on wooden rafts, then flooded so that they'd sink and stay put. The codename used for this type of dock was 'Mulberry'.

So after your FNS in Paris, shoot on over to the Normandy coast and check it out.

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