Saturday, 8 June 2019

Courage, Commitment and Bravery … D-Day 2019




The moving commemorative events held this week on the 75th anniversary of D-Day … were only the start of the end ... 
50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day 1995:
Lancaster Bomber dropping poppies in front
of Buckingham Palace





... it was another 11 months before Victory in Europe could be formally acknowledged, when Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered its armed forces.






Military Cross
One hundred years ago today my father was born, twenty-five years later he was on shores of France … he fought for Britain, the free world, his life and for others to live … he was awarded the Military Cross …


… like many, my parents, did not talk about their Army experiences, but certainly their lives were affected, then they lived on with their families … until their time came.


Painted in the middle of the
Second World War
Navy, Air Force, Army personnel
depicted, but we must remember
all the others behind the scenes

I’m sure my family would endorse all elements of the 2019 D-Day Proclamation that ceremonially commits its 16 signatories:


“To work constructively as friends and allies to find common ground” even where their opinions differ and “to work together to resolve international tensions peacefully.”



The Proclamation was signed by:  


Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the USA.


… and states:



"Over the last 75 years, our nations have stood up for peace in Europe and globally, for democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.

We re-commit today to those shared values because they support the stability and prosperity of our nations and our people.

We will work together as allies and friends to defend these freedoms whenever they are threatened."


Allied Invasion Force on D-Day 1944

I, on my own behalf, and everyone who reads this blog would encourage us all to be humble, remember what they were willing to give – we have to preserve this brave and courageous generation’s legacy of Peace and Freedom.






Let Us Not Forget ... 






I'd like to add a note to this post:  One thing I've learnt is - we need to understand history, the different peoples of this world, their culture and customs etc - before we go expecting others to be like us ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

49 comments:

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I have no issue with remembering, Hilary, but I suspect that what they were "willing" to give overstates it somewhat. Most were conscripted and willingness had little to do with it. I had an uncle, deceased many, many years of course, who fought in the Battle of the Somme. He was eternally bitter about his experience of war and never once expressed pride in what he had done. To say that he fought willingly would have been a gross misrepresentation of opinions that he held. The experience made him a pacifist and for the rest of his life he detested the annual remembrances, which he concluded superficially glossed over the brutality of it all, and made war seem trite, almost akin to a group of "jolly good fellows" looking back on good times. I remember once, when a veteran of the Second World War was interviewed and described that action as "lively" he almost went into paroxysms when killing fellow humans was depicted as "lively."
One thing is certain, we have not learned the lesson of the past. Wars continue daily and we find new ways to despise, demean and slaughter each other. Solemn remembrance has meant little.





Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi David - I'm certain you're right ... and why we never discussed the War at home. Your salient note is what I'm sure many will agree with ... it must have been awful ... thank you for leaving this thoughtful and appropriate comment. Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Love that proclamation. And wish that the signatories (including my country) took a good hard look at it and themselves.
My father couldn't/wouldn't talk about war, other than to say that there are no winners. There are losers and bigger losers he always said.

Murees Dupè said...

My grandfather never spoke of his military experience either. It is so important to remember all of those brave men, and women who fought, and died for us to enjoy this freedom today.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
We must not forget, indeed. However, the remembrance definitely should serve to bring about clarity about conflict and its cost. Let us pray this 'new D-Day proclamation' holds at least as much water as the oceans and seas... YAM xx

Chatty Crone said...

We must NEVER EVER forget what these men did for us to have freedom. I thank your father for his part in the service. My hubs was in the Vietnam War or in that time period he served. sandie

Hels said...

The Proclamation rightly says "We will work together as allies and friends to defend these freedoms whenever they are threatened." Correct! But I hope defending freedoms is done by peaceful means, not by using guns and bombs against the "belligerent" nations.

My late father was in WW2 and came home a pacifist!

Jz said...

Their proclamation to God's ears...

Denise Covey said...

A very thoughtful comment from David, but isn't that the case in all wars? Unless you're a fierce patriot or a mercenary, wars are fought often by the unwilling or in the case of the 14-year old Aussie boys who died at Gallipoli looking for an adventure, those too young to know better. But I found the D-Day commemorations especially moving. However, most citizens of the world have had enough. Yet defending freedom is an on-going battle, unfortunately.

Botanist said...

Ali's grandfather parachuted behind the lines to support D-Day. She says he never talked about what he went through there.

Mike Goad said...

I was kind of surprised to find that the number of Americans drafted was so high: Over 16.5 million Americans served in WW2, 2 million in Europe. 10 million of those were drafted. The population of the US in 1954 was 140 million, so about 11% of all Americans at that time served. Over a quarter of a million women served some function in the US military. Whether or not those drafted served "willingly," most fulfilled their draft obligated service. All who served deserve to be remembered and honored.

My grandfather, who served in the Pacific, never talked about his service either.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – the Proclamation is worth knowing about … and to be remembered by us and our leaders. Your father was right … more losers at that time … now the fortunate rest can live on …

@ Murees – yes your grandfather was like many who never spoke about those days – and we are forever grateful they gave us our freedom as we know it today …

@ Yam – you’ve reminded us that we today need to remember the cost of conflict … and as you rightly say let us pray that the Proclamation is remembered by the leaders of the world, as they lead our countries forward …

@ Sandie – we must never forget all who served to allow us our freedom …

@ Hels – the Proclamation goes on to say “(even where their opinions differ and) to work together to resolve international tensions peacefully.” Like you said this part of the Proclamation needs to be remembered at all times …

I expect many came home pacifists …

@ Jz – I hope the Proclamation will be remembered by us all in conflict situations: to find common ground even where opinions differ and then “to work together to resolve all tensions peacefully.”

@ Denise – yes David’s comment was very thoughtful … and apposite. Thank you for reminding us about the boys who joined up because it was, to them, an adventure – sadly it was too real.

Your note about the world having had enough … sadly those who live in repressive areas or even whole countries … continue to suffer as conflict encompasses so many …

I only saw the commemorative events on the 5th, and missed those over in Normandy on D-Day itself 75 years later … I’d like to watch at some stage – as there’s so much to understand and learn about.

@ Ian – I’m amazed at how brave the airmen, parachutists and glider pilots were to fly in to support and then fight with their compatriots … I can understand Ali’s grandfather not wanting to talk about those times …

@ Mike – I don’t know the draft numbers of any of the countries – those in Europe would have had a total draft … everyone man, woman and child … all would have helped – understandably with a few dissenters … the horrors of war are still being played out – as my previous post about the refugee camps highlighted.

My uncle, like your grandfather, was also in the Pacific … all who served gave us our freedom … I hope our leaders can give all nations the freedom that we have today …

Thanks so much … we all have our own thoughts of those days when we have been able to live out our lives in a peaceful time … our forebears victory in Normandy was hard won; it took courage, sacrifice and ingenuity – and an unprecedented alliance of trust – we must continue to stand together … thank you - Hilary

Patsy said...

We watched as veterans left Portsmouth harbour for France, some by ferry and some by cruise ship. There was a huge public turnout to see this and appluad them, proving many haven't fogotten.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wish more countries had signed that.
Most people who were in the big wars never talked about them.

Jo said...

I fully endorse David's comments. War is disgusting and not to be celebrated. Why man must fight man I have never understood. Animals fight over territory but mostly not to the death, why must we. As for the "kids" at Gallipoli, they had probably been led to believe in the glories of war. Poppycock. In my case, my father basically never saw fighting, he was in Rhodesia training pilots for 3 years and then he was in transport command flying much needed foods etc. into Britain. I don't know if his planes were ever shot at. He never talked about it either.

Keith's Ramblings said...

Just the other day my mum told me about coming home from school one day in 1944 to find her mother sitting with an army officer who'd just told her that her son was lost in battle. From that day until the day she died, my Gran kept her back door unlocked just in case it was a mistake. It wasn't. His name is inscribed on the memorial at Southsea Beach. It was the first time I'd heard about it.

Jacqui Murray said...

Our news outlets made a big deal about this (at least, the one I watched). I was impressed with the history they shared, the events, and what D-Day meant for Western civilization. It is heartening that we remember our history.

Dan said...

We owe those brave men and women so much, more than we can ever repay. The least we can do is remember what they did for us and continue to maintain the world they fought to save.

Thanks for this post, Hilary.

DMS said...

It is amazing how long it took for the war to be completely over after it started to end. Almost a year! I can imagine for those who have been in war that it is not something they would want to talk about after the fact.
~Jess

Joanne said...

It's more important than ever to remember D-Day and learn lessons from past wars. Especially as these folks, now in their nineties pass away. We need to hear the stories and really listen. I fear that proclamations sound great but are tough to live up to. But we can always hope that somehow new generations take history to heart and truly work toward peace.

Mason Canyon said...

Very inspiring post, Hillary. I so agree with you.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

The proclamation may not have any "teeth" behind its noble words, but I still wish more countries had signed it. By its nature, war drastically changes anyone who fights, whether willingly or not, and most war veterans would say that the lesson of war should be... NO MORE WAR. Unfortunately, that lesson still hasn't been embraced universally.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy … I wondered if perhaps you’d been asked to take some photos – but I expect a few were taken. I saw something of the crowds … and really should watch both days through again … they always have interesting interviews and new bits of history. It’s wonderful to know the public most definitely haven’t forgotten … I’d have loved to have been down at Southsea …

@ Alex – yes I know – I think perhaps it was the major countries in Europe re WW2, the Commonwealth ones and the US – let’s hope the message has got through …

@ Jo – it was a Commemorative Event … and we do need to remember those who died – just desperately sad we need to. It was part of the fabric of life (both in 1914 and in 1939) … those young lads saw people going away – and there was an opportunity for them to have a change – a disastrous choice they made …

I’m glad your father was away from things in Rhodesia … but I’m sure his transport planes were shot at – even if they were escorted … those supplies were vital …

@ Keith – I suppose your mother felt at last she could talk about that conversation with your grandmother – how very sad. I’m glad his name, your uncle, is inscribed on the Southsea Memorial. We never talked about things at home … I garnered some things later in life … but I think you’ll find you are pleased your mother mentioned this particular episode … desperate for her.

@ Jacqui – I wish I’d been able to spend more time listening to both events – but I’d already fixed things to do. However I like your mention that you learnt about the history that D-Day meant for our Western civilisation … somehow we need to pass on those very relevant aspects of WW2 …

@ Dan – in recent years I’ve paid more attention to the logistics of the war, as too the stories that servicemen have told and am beginning to learn even more – but am just so grateful for them all.

@ Jess – yes I’d forgotten that D-day wasn’t just ‘it’ … and war was not over – the fighting went on in Europe til the following May 1945, but in some parts it went on until September 1945.

I, too, can quite understand why so many didn’t want to discuss anything about their involvement in those terror times …

@ Joanne – you’re right we need to listen and learn … while we need to understand the history – belligerent as it is. I hope the Proclamation will be remembered and highlighted at many international events in the coming years … we do need to work peacefully towards Peace.

@ Mason – many thanks … the courage and commitment of those millions of personnel must be remembered …

@ Susan – it was signed by those nations that fought alongside the UK on D-Day … but included Germany as she is now a full member of the European Union …

I would hope the Proclamation will be remembered as to the why it needed to be signed today … and will be remembered at future international events.

I totally agree there shouldn’t be any more war – but must say I don’t want to lose my freedoms … and am so grateful I live in the United Kingdom … and not in Russia, China, North Korea and others …

Thank you so much for your relevant, pertinent comments adding to this post – with thoughts for the coming week.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

From all the photos and the footage I've seen of D-Day, it must have been such a terrifying and disorienting experience. I'm so grateful to those, like your father, who had the courage to fight for our freedoms today.

Vallypee said...

A moving tribute to your parents and all who were involved. My parents also never talked about their war experiences, although I knew my mother suffered during the blitz. That was clear. Blessed are they!

Liz A. said...

My father was in a very different war, and he doesn't talk about it. Although, nowadays I'm more likely to ask, and it's distant enough that he'll talk. I think most want to forget war. And I think that's probably a good thing, so long as we can be in peaceful times.

Fil said...

It was such an incredible feat of bravery and must have been a terrifying experience amid the triumph for those who survived. We've driven past the beaches in Normandy several times and I am always struck by the enormity of what they all achieved, your father included Hilary. What an amazing legacy to leave behind. Great post - I hope that we will never see the need for anything like it again. Fil x

D.G. Kaye said...

Important tribute to D Day, Hilary. And just as important to remember our alliances so this war doesn't happen again. x

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

So many brave men and women we often forget all the brave women who served and in some cases died for their country.

Kay G. said...

My uncle was in World War II, in Patton's 3rd Army. He survived the war and lived to old age but he was never the same as he was before war. We all wish for no wars but we should still honor and remember all who have served in armed forces during times of war. My mother's first husband died in Korea when he was 21. I will remember and honor those who have died in wars or "conflicts".

Liza said...

Humbling post, Hilary. Thank you. My dad rarely spoke of his experiences, although I know he was in France.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth – I agree the uncertainty of it all must have been really worrying – what was going to happen etc. We had to defend our country as well as do what we could to repel the Nazis from Europe – and thus join with the country to help this necessary cause. Those young men and women did all they could (and more).

@ Val – thank you … like so many others my parents were in action … but my London grandparents went to Wales to work on the war effort – thus escaping the blitz, which must have been horrendous.

@ Liz – War of any kind is too terrible … and your father, like so many, either never did, or now on occasions felt able to tell some of their experiences. I can understand them wanting to forget those days … we are just lucky to be living in peaceful times.

@ Fil – I never paid much attention to the planning or logistics of the War – but recently I’ve been taught so much through these sorts of programmes and events.

I must go to Normandy sometime to appreciate the landscape, see some of the War Cemeteries, appreciate the villages and towns … now I’d understand so much more. Like you I sincerely hope we never have another War of any kind …

@ Debby – yes we most definitely need to remember and especially remember the allies who came to help us through the War …

@ Jo-Anne – yes there were women too … which I always try and mention … they were mostly European (ie living there) – because that’s where they were … but nurses, ambulance drivers from all allied forces did go over to help … my mother was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service …

@ Kay – thanks for your note on your uncle … he was part of the charade that Patton and the 3rd Army put on in Kent re a phantom army set up – keeping the Nazis guessing as to where the attack would come from. He then went in the planned launch known as Operation Cobra after the D-Day invasion … so must have had an awful time – but he came back; whereas your mother’s first husband didn’t get back from Korea. Both very brave men …

@ Liza – thank you … it sounds as though like others here our fathers kept their experiences to themselves … probably the only way they could go on into the future …

Thanks to you all – the remembrances of the sacrifices made are all humbling … let us today hope in the future for a more caring and peaceful world - Hilary

Debbie D. said...

I think it's important to have these commemorations, otherwise, past history will be forgotten. There are so very few WWII vets left to tell the stories. Their sacrifices must be honoured. They gave so much so we all can live free. Thank you for this, Hilary!

Nilanjana Bose said...

WW2 was one of the very few 'just' wars ever fought. However, the casualties were and are heart-stopping. I have visited the war graves at El Alamein and it is gut wrenching to stand there in front of row upon row of the dead, some of them barely older than boys, 20 years old.

It's sobering to reflect that we memorialise the martyrs but low grade warfare goes on endlessly round the world. And huge amounts of money are spent developing more and more refined weapons to kill each other. So very saddening that we so easily ignore the lessons from history.

troutbirder said...

I'm reasonably certain the American President who signed that state had no idea of what he was signing. I am certain that likely believed the the D in the massive celebration of D Day stood for Donald and the Allies were finally recognizing his greatness...:(

Kelly Steel said...

Inspiring post.

Rhodesia said...

Great post Hilary, well done. Sorry I am not visiting often, so much to do in the garden, trips away, visitors and another trip to RSA in October!!!!! Take care Diane

Tara Tyler said...

I'm glad I stopped by for this post. The significance of this time period should never be forgotten. You did a beautiful job with your personal and historical presentation, as usual. Thank you!

And thank you for always supporting me =)
You're a special lady!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debbie - there are very very few left now; and very few children of the WW1 era who could tell us things. They all gave us our freedom and our attitude for today to look after each other ... we must remember ...

@ Nila - yes we needed to stop the Nazis and their like in both WW1 and WW2 ... but the interlinking of different conflicts in other parts of the world - Africa and the Middle East, then too Asia was a step too far ... thank goodness they were stopped. I had a quick look at El Alamein ... I'd like to visit - but am fairly certain that's not somewhere I'll get to.

Your comment is interesting - thank you ... and so right - the first paragraph, as too here the 2nd one ... we do memorialise our historical figures (rightly or wrongly) yet warfare goes on with lots of money spent on things to kill other humans: it would be better spent helping everyone out of poverty ...

Somehow we need to move societies to not accept tyrants ... and to live in peace sharing our lives ... a change of acceptance and attitude is needed ... I hope leaders come through ... and we all learn to appreciate others ...

@ Ray - I won't pass comment except to agree with you ... the less said about the man the better - the Proclamation understands the world as it should be ...

@ Kelly - thank you ...

@ Diane - good to see you - and yes I know this time of year is always busy ... Spring, Summer and early Autumn are wonderful ... lots of light - theoretically good weather (as it tips it down outside!) ... and visitors. Then a trip to SA ... oh lucky you ... great to think about as time marches towards lift off!

@ Tara - Always lovely to see you and thank you for the compliment. We do need to remember our fallen, and our families who suffered so much ...

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting - always love seeing you here - I'm just glad last week was mostly dry for the commemorations - it's been very stormy this week. Appreciate you all ... Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

You must be so proud of your father. That's a beautiful medal. There were so many brave young men, weren't there?

Inger said...

I saw so many touching moments with our veterans, now in their mid-90s, at the ceremonies. I wanted to give each one of them a hug.

Marja said...

oh that awfull war. We are very grateful for the soldiers who fought for us and sad at the same time. I remember my mum telling about the canadian soldiers staying at their house. None of them returned after going to Arnhem (a bridge to far)

Elsie Amata said...

Thank you to your father for his service. It will never be forgotten. The Military Cross is such an honor and a true testament to his bravery and his character.

Elsie

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary, Your father was a true hero. It is important that we never forget D-Day, and I agree that more counties should have signed the Proclamation. I once interviewed a man who lied about his age at 17, so he could enlist in WWII. He proudly boasted about all the men he had killed and it made me sick to my stomach. I wish I had proof that he was lying, as his joy of killing was anything but heroic.

Julie

Lynda Dietz said...

You know, we look at documentaries and we read accounts of war, and yet only those who have served can truly understand the horrors and the feeling of duty involved. Many thanks to your dad and others who served—willingly, conscripted, or something in between. They did what they had to and carried the weight of those memories for the rest of their lives.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - yes ... though I sadly know nothing about it ... it was just never mentioned. Yes ... certainly people really do come to the fore in times of war - but D-day was just so dreadful, yet today we are free - thank goodness.

@ Inger - it's amazing to think people are still alive who were there on the beaches in those early (end) days of the War. The BBC does put on very good tv ceremonies (commemorative events) for us to be able to watch and get the added history, and/or poignant stories - as you say ... yes one could just hold them all tight, whispering words of thanks and love ... thanks for these thoughts: so appropriate ...

@ Marja - yes you and your family must have felt the War so badly being in Holland. How terribly sad to know about the Canadian soldiers - that area was so well fortified by the Germans ... just desperate. We had Canadian soldiers here in Eastbourne - not sure how or where they went in WW2 - but must now find out. A bridge too far ... as you say. It looks like the 2nd Liberation War in April 1945 ... just before the Nazis fully surrendered in May 1945 ... was where those poor Canadians were deployed.

@ Elsie - I hope our children and descendants will never forget. I really should find out more about the MC - but just family never let those sorts of things be talked about ... he obviously did something pretty extraordinary ...

@ Julie - he certainly seems to have been and I know he never forgot those experiences, and had long lasting consequences. But he did what many others would have done I'm sure ...

I just hope the Proclamation is understood by all the peoples of the countries who were freed by the extraordinary courage of these brave servicemen who gave of their lives, and those who survived like my father ... who should understand the terrible things the free world was having to deal with - and then kept it free.

Julie, that interview must have been horrendous ... regrettably there are still people out there - when killing is just killing for killing's sake - one can't easily comment on it ... sick to your stomach (and mine) is definitely one way ...

@ Lynda - you're right ... I remember War as a kid - as dare-devils who always won in the films and tv programmes that came out ... but how different life must have been in those times ... the fighting, the lack of food, the hardships of travel, fear of death or injury etc

The servicemen and women did what they had to do ... willingly, conscripted or helping out - and having those memories must have been quite terrible.

We all need to understand and relate to what they did for us.

Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts reminding us of our families and the horrors of War ... Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

Great post and facts. Let us never forget.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Hi Hilary! I think my comment went into the spam folder. :(

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chrys - yes we must never forget ...

@ Holly - lovely to see you ... I couldn't find another comment ... but pleased you've read the post and visited ...

Good to see you both - cheers Hilary


I'm going to add this para at the end of the post:

One thing I've learnt is - we need to understand history, the different peoples of this world, their culture and customs etc - before we go expecting others to be like us ...