D-Day in 1944 was a Tuesday, seventy years later it fell on a Friday.
A is for amphibious assault – 70 years ago it was one of the greatest manoeuvres in history that set off from the south coast of England …
- The launch of the allied invasion changed the course of the war and tested innovations in science and engineering for the first time – the planning had started in 1943 …
- … but the Germans had incredible defences, called the Atlantic Wall, all around Europe … but thankfully even they lapsed in their co-ordinations and had thought the invasion would take place at high tide …
A is for Arromanches – the village on Gold Beach spared the brunt of the fighting on the first day … so the installation and operation of a Mulberry harbour could proceed – which allowed the disembarkation of 9,000 tons of material per day.
|The Duchess of Cambridge sharing tea|
with some of the Veterans
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with veterans over tea in the village … an emotional memory jog for the second in line to the British throne.
|Bletchley Park and code workers|
B is for Bletchley Park – so long unacknowledged - and now famous as the home of the code-breakers. A colossal debt to the genius of Bletchley … the discipline, secrecy and patriotism shown and maintained during WWII and on for 30 years and longer as we find out more even 70 years later …
B is for Bayeux – the British military cemetery where wreaths were laid and the Queen paid tribute to the “immense and heroic endeavour” of the men at Normandy.
- It is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War where 4,100 allied servicemen are buried alongside 460 Germans.
|The five D-Day code namde beaches|
B is for beaches, the five main landing areas used on D-Day along the Normandy coast … where thousands stormed ashore to liberate Europe.
- All five landings were necessary to link up the allied forces, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. … going from east to west:
- Sword Beach (British) – stretched 8 km (5 miles); it was divided into several sectors, and each sector divided into beaches: a 3 km (1.9 mile) stretch of Sword was codenamed Queen Sector – Red, White and Green … which ‘explains’ why the Queen wore that bright green outfit at the international Commemoration, which all the dignitaries attended.
- Juno Beach – the Canadian Advance Forces … they suffered many losses as seen in their War Cemetery; their main drive was to secure each intermediary flanking beach and to capture the German airport, Carpiquet, west of Caen.
- Gold Beach (British) - was secured so an artificial Mulberry harbour could be deployed.
- Omaha Beach (USA), the most heavily defended beach … but after artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition … the Americans were able to continue their landings and clear out other defences.
- Utah Beach - the most westerly beach (USA) … had been affected by strong currents – useful as they washed ashore many of the underwater obstacles, but challenging as the Americans were further south than intended … but fate played luck on the Allies side and the landings were better than expected.
B is for bicycles – used by the troops for silent and speedy movement.
B is for breakfast … at sea after a rough crossing on D-Day … fried eggs and rum … you could move to S**S*** next or perhaps V****? Some very unhappy tummies that day – let alone all the other ghastly agonies that may have followed … and the “***” are code and don’t appear – you should be able to guess! Sorry!
C is for Commemoration: why is it so important to us? Because it is tradition that shapes a nation’s understanding of itself in the present day, defining us by the memories of our forefathers articulated by ancient prayers.
C is for Coincidence of the brothers: after a dreadful assault on Sword Beach, Kenneth Sturdy found himself in a ditch thanking his lucky stars he was still alive … to settle his nerves, he sought out a cigarette, nudged the chap next to him for a light … amazingly it was his brother, Norman – whom he had not seen for four years.
D is for a Diplomatically Delicate lunch at which President Putin was seated well away from the president elect of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko: see G
D is for D-Day – an exemplar as to the way the Second World War was fought. Officers and privates, men and women, civilians and soldiers “all worked with equal energy for victory”.
- D-Day was when it would be … D-Day -1 was the day before … D-Day + 2 was 8th June 1944 …
D is for Defiance, grit, camaraderie and ‘sheer hell and begone’ – the Navy Veteran who went AWOL, so he could honour the anniversary alongside his comrades … Bernard Jordan, now 90, hiding his medals under his coat ‘broke out’ of his care home and escaped to Normandy ... he was an ex Mayor of the town!
E is for Exclamation … 5.15 am on a bunker overlooking the Normandy coast, Major Werner Pluskat of the newly arrived 352nd Division is looking out to sea with his artillery binoculars. He steps back in dazed amazement … the horizon is filled with ships … where did this fleet come from?
- Pluskat calls divisional HQ … “there must be 10,000 ships out there. It’s unbelievable!” he cries … “Look, Pluskat, are you really sure? The Americans and British together don’t have that many ships.”
- An hour later, 6.30 am, a German infantry sergeant says “They must be crazy. Are they going to swim ashore right in front of our muzzles”?
F is for Funnies …” Donald Duck” was one of Major Percy Hobart’s “Funnies” … an amphibious swimming tank ...
- Major Hobart was a maverick in his day when he was in charge of tank brigades ...
- ….he was retired early in the 1930s because of his unconventional ideas ... about replacing manpower and horses with machines – he was languishing in Home Guard …
- … but the powers that be realised his unconventional approach could be exceedingly useful?!
- “Hobart’s Funnies” – worked really well – and were born:
- apart from the Donald Duck tanks ... also:
- the Crocodile, which had a flame thrower
- Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers “Flying Dustbin” – a Petard Mortar projectile capable of destroying concrete obstacles, such as road blocks and bunkers
- AVRE “Bobbin” a reel of canvas cloth reinforced with steel poles, which could be unrolled onto the ground to form a path …
- AVRE “Fascine” a bundle of wooden poles, or rough brushwood, lashed together with wires carried in front of the tank that could be released to fill a ditch or form a step .. metal pipes in the centre of the fascine allowed the water to flow through …
- and others – see Wikipedia or other sources
F is for Friends – Paratrooper Jock Hutton, 89, who once again 70 years later parachuted in to the French cornfields … suddenly caught sight of an old friend, Bert Marsh … “You old beast! I thought you were dead!” he shouted as the two men embraced. ‘Now get that beret on properly’.
- If they are like this now, just imagine what the enemy had to deal with seventy years ago …
G is for Global Gatherings … to Normandy’s beaches had come the greatest group of world leaders since the London Olympics.
- It included 7 monarchs, ten presidents, assorted prime ministers and ‘very important peoples’ from a couple of dozen governments and armed forces. (19 heads of state, including the Queen and US President Barack Obama)
- A monarch, who had served every moment of that day in uniform; who had heard her father broadcast to the nation that night;
- and who has always had a distinguished war veteran at her side, her husband: the Duke of Edinburgh.
H is for Hitler – 5.30 am news had reached the Berghof … the Fuhrer’s HQ in the Bavarian Alps – but no-one wants to wake him … 8.30 am, Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments minister, asks if the Fuhrer has been woken up … the answer … he always receives the news after breakfast.
- No-one wanted the responsibility of waking Hitler with news of what may be only a small scale attack … thank goodness that Hitler was such a dictator, who scared the living daylights out of his own staff too ..
|Floppy gun ...|
I is for Inflatables … or Invasion fakeries … a phantom army of camps, vehicles and planes was constructed … many inflatable mock-ups.
- Phony wireless communications were sent out from all over the UK to back up this false build up for a fake invasion … keeping the Germans guessing where the strike might occur.
- Fortitude South was the code name for this mythical army, supposedly under Gen. George S. Patton …
I is for imagination in 2014 – for us now to imagine what it must have felt like or been like at 18 in 1944, when it is now a completely different world … it is enormously humbling how incredibly brave those men were …
J is for Journal on D-Day – where a WAAF cypher officer in Hampshire says: “At 01.30 hours I climbed on the ops roof to see the most amazing sight I have ever seen.
- On the runway our fleet of tugs and gliders were taking off perfectly timed; above them at about 5,000 ft came a great formation of US Dakotas flying in V formation of three in a flight – the sky was full of twinkly green and red and amber lights, the air filled with the steady purposeful roar of their engines.
- Away in the distance came another fleet, and further off still a haze of lights betokened yet another. Our aircraft and tows circled below them before streaming off to the south. And as they went the first bombers came back …”
|WW1 recruiting poster for|
the land girls
K is for a Kiss – Arthur Jones, 88, a Desert Rat, asked the Duchess of Cambridge if he could give her a kiss … he said it was just lovely to be able to take the opportunity – he had lost his wife ten years ago and so doesn’t get many opportunities to kiss pretty ladies … he thought he might be taken off to the Tower of London … but I don’t think so … this is just a reminder that hugs and kisses are so important to the elderly – veterans or otherwise …
L is for Land Girls – Women’s Land Army Society was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture replacing men called up to the military … finally from 1995 onwards they were formally recognised.
|Aluminium milk bottle tops|
L is for Logistical Effort – the many who worked in the factories … making bullets, packing parachutes, manning the ops rooms; the engineers who made the floating tanks and portable harbours that helped secure the beaches;
- the children who collected aluminium milk bottle tops for scrap metal to be used in making the aeroplanes.
L is for Letters – the comfort of those sent and those received, yet the most poignant must be: “Darling, if you read this I’ve been killed …”
M is for Minesweepers – which began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn (6th June 1944) without encountering the enemy.
M is for Mulberry Harbours … Phoenix breakwaters were a set of reinforced concrete caissons built as a section of the artificial Mulberry harbours that were assembled in the follow-up to the Normandy landings.
- The Mulberries were created to provide the port facilities necessary to offload the thousands of men and vehicles, and tons of supplies necessary to sustain Operation Overlord and the Battle of Normandy.
- Patsy (she has a new book out) has given us a link to a 360 degree viewing site: Gold Beach, Arommanches
M is for “Merci” – so many French called out as they watched the Veterans go past … as they have done each year ...
N is for Nurses, Hospitals, Doctors ... a nurse recalls Le Chateau de Beaussy, near Bayeux that became a field hospital - it had a critical role as major surgeries were often performed there to make a casualty stable enough to survive the trip back to England.
As part of a team they were treating up to 200 casualties a day; it was exhausting work. There was no on/off rotation; everyone worked around the clock, sleeping when they had a chance ... often for one or two hours at a time and in a ditch, until tented accommodation was provided.
All patients, both British and German, needed rehydration, rest, morphine to keep them comfortable; while the new penicillin was being used.
N is for Newspapers … unbelievably, at about 8.15 am, one of a squadron Spitfires flying low … drops a bundle of the morning papers from Britain!
N is for a Novel … wading through the sea at Omaha beach is 25 year old counter-intelligence officer, Jerome D Salinger. In his backpack are six chapters of the novel he’s writing: The Catcher in the Rye … he brought the manuscript with him as a lucky charm – and as a reason to survive.
|Teheran Conference 1943:|
Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill
O is for Operation Overlord – the code name (Churchill’s inspiration!) for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during WWII.
O is for Operation Neptune, now more commonly known as D-Day.
O is for Ouistreham, Sword Beach – where Francois Hollande played host to an extraordinary array of global statesmen all united by their country’s involvement in the conflict that was World War Two.
P is for Pride – a day of quiet pride and poignant thoughts for those who never came home …
P is for Paratrooper, Jock Hutton, 89, who jumped one last time into the thick and tall green corn … to be greeted this time by the Prince of Wales. The height of the corn at that time had made it difficult for the medics to find wounded men. (also see F for Friends)
P is for Pegasus Bridge – just as 5th June turned into 6th June all those 70 years ago … 380 British soldiers faced the Nazis’ 21st Panzer Division, which had 12,350 men in the area, 127 tanks and 40 self-propelled guns.
|Pegasus Bridge with Horsas in|
- Gliders crash-landed just yards from the bridge at Benouville, now known as Pegasus Bridge after the Parachute Battalion’s winged horse insignia, reinforced shortly after by the Paras … and after a short fire-fight both bridges were taken.
- These Airspeed Horsas were specially designed to carry 25 men … one go … no return … (the Horsa name is after the legendary 5th century conqueror of southern Britain)
- (Capturing the two small bridges over the River Orne and Caen Canal … and holding them, would stop German tanks reaching the beaches where Allied troops would land the next morning).
P is for Protocol at the international Commemorative Event at Ouistreham, Sword Beach – which head of State, which Prince and which Queen should arrive first or last, and where should they sit … who is talking to one another …
|Chancellor Merkel, with President Putin and|
- President Obama was kept well away from Putin, except for the split screen tv moment … all were welcomed, some more vocally – even Angela Merkel, German Chancellor was cordially received … and Petro Poroschenko, president-elect (now president) of Ukraine was well received …
- The Russians had been a big ally for the west in the War and had lost millions of men (+/- 22 million I believe) … that we should not forget either …
|Meeting of the Supreme Allied Commanders -|
General Eisenhower with his commanders
P is for Plan … there was no Plan B – the success of D-Day stands testament to the imagination, boldness and technical ingenuity of the British and Allied leaders and armed forces.
P is for Parliament – Churchill addressed the House of Commons on 6th June 1944 breaking the news to MPs that the D-Day mission was underway.
Q is for The Queen – the only head of state old enough to remember D-Day – with six other monarchs, ten presidents and thousands of guests, including 1,000 veterans – gathered to honour those who took part in the greatest maritime invasion in history.
- A few words from the Queen’s speech: “The true measure of all our actions is how long the good in them lasts,” she declared.
- “Each year has compounded in Europe the benefits of our victory in the Second World War. Seen in that light, those heroic deeds will stand out as much in 700 years as they do after 70.”
- As we know the Queen is a great-grandmother also said “Everything we do, we do for the young” … this will be much quoted by future historians.
|Canadian Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer|
R is for remembering D-Day … at dawn on 6 June 2014, a lone piper stood on the sand at Gold beach and played a lament for the thousands of Allied Soldiers who died on D-Day 70 years ago.
- 70 years previously … Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat and his Special Service Brigade arrived in the second invasive landing wave, piped ashore by Private Bill Millin, Lovat’s personal piper.
We come to remember those who from the air, in the water and on the beaches made the supreme sacrifice.
|Royal British Legion's sea of flags|
R is for the Royal British Legion – which organised a sea of flags … over 25,000 flags … one for every man that stormed the Arromanche beach.
R is for Erwin Rommel – who apparently wanted to lose the war as soon as possible to save as much of Germany as possible, yet he’d reinforced Normandy with masses defences known as the Atlantic Wall ...
- … it is well known that Rommel left the theatre of impending operations to take his wife a present on her birthday, leaving no clear lines of command between Hitler and his Western Command.
- Interestingly Rommel’s present of handmade grey suede shoes from Paris … did not fit …
- … and on top of that he was under the delusion that the Allies will never invade while the Channel is so rough … fortune favours the brave here I’d say … weren’t we lucky that our antecedents were prepared to do this for us …
|Allies and French Reisistance|
S is for Secrecy – to alert the French Resistance that the invasion was beginning the BBC would broadcast a couplet from a French poem; one line at the start of the month of the invasion; the second just before.
- This was revealed under torture to the Germans, but a German intelligence sergeant actually heard the lines and excitedly alerted the army.
- The army’s response? “No serious power would broadcast their intentions to invade over the radio.” Thank goodness the German army did pay no attention to that broadcast.
- If you would like to read a story about the secrecy and its impact on a fellow blogger, please see here: Deborah Barker, Living Between the Lines, and her Chester Isermann post.
S is for Sacrifice – Standing on Gold Beach in Normandy where he landed as a Lance Corporal 70 years ago, Cyril Ager, 90, raised his hand to salute 413 comrades who lost their lives that day.
|Tenderness and Care ...|
T is for Tenderness – the way the elderly veterans were cared for by the young soldiers during this seventieth commemorative day ...
T is for the true stars … those who were on these beaches 70 years ago – the Veterans …
U is for umbrellas … those held over the Veterans as they waited for the global leaders to finish their lunch, and talks before the Commemorative Event could take place …
U is for Underground Defences … the Atlantic Wall of Nazi bunkers around the whole of western European aimed at any allied invading force …
|The Cross of Sacrifice|
U is for the Ultimate Sacrifice, the savagery of war that so many suffered … death, disability, shell-shock, family disruption, children without parents … on all sides and in all countries …
V is for Veterans – these men are “precious: they embody one of history’s greatest moments, and soon they will all be gone.”
- To witness those Veterans – many in wheelchairs – wiping away tears for colleagues lost was both moving and humbling.
|The Queen greeting the Veterans|
Elderly, wizened faces, heads held high … countless medals emblazoning their smart blue blazers … highlighting the self-sacrificial efforts made … impossible to enumerate.
- The Normandy Veterans’ Association has announced it is to disband in November this year. Its members have dwindled to just over 600 … prior to finally shutting down … the NVA is recording interviews with as many survivors of D-Day as possible, filling in any record before the event “passes over the horizon of living memory”.
W is for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which maintains the cemeteries for all Commonwealth war dead throughout the world; here there are six Commonwealth cemeteries … four are for British casualties: Bayeux, Ranville, Banneville-La-Campagne, St Manvieu – two are for Canadians: Beny-Sur-Mer and Bretteville-sur-Laize.
- I will write a separate post about how the War Graves Commission came about.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is at Colleville-sur-Mer.
|President Obama with the United States' wreath|
W is for Wreaths – one of the wreaths laid was by Peter Thompson, chairman of the Normandy Veterans’ Association, whose 19th birthday fell on D-Day. Before the NVA stood down, the veterans sang “We’ll Meet Again” and linked arms for” Auld Lang Syne” to absent friends …
W is for Weather … a truly British topic of conversation … but an essential component in the D-Day landings …
- Three groups of weather forecasters would put forward their individual views … then would follow the interminable discussion around the differences. A common forecast would emerge detailing expected cloud, wind and sea over 48 hours – the longest period possible to forecast nearly accurately …
- They said “no” to 5th June … but prior to midday on 5th June Eisenhower agreed to D-Day as the 6th June … they were ready … and even if the winds were down to Force 3 or 4, although the sea would be rough … the Germans however believed that the conditions were unsuitable … but Operation Overlord went ahead …
X is for X-craft – midget submarines which in late January 1944 in advance of the landings carried two secret swimmers into the beaches – with augers to collect sand samples to establish whether the beach could take the weight of tanks.
- X-craft played a role on D-Day … providing beacons to guide the armada inshore …
X is for facts … many horrific … on D-Day itself 4,413 British Allied soldiers were killed …
- The invasion lasted for 80 days – and cost 250,000 lives. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels.
- Nearly 157,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6th June, while more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August 1944.
- An estimated 360,000 French civilians were killed during the Second World War, the majority of these during the D-Day invasion and subsequent drive to the German frontier.
- On D-Day itself, 83,115 British soldiers landed in Normandy, including 24,000 on Gold Beach, 28,000 on word Beach and 7,900 by air.
The Allied D-Day in numbers …
- 156,000 troops in Normandy on D-Day;
- The armada comprised 5,000 ships with landing craft and 50,000 vehicles, supported by 11,590 aircraft
- The Allied casualty figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including over 4,413 dead.
- By June 11, with beachheads secured, more than 326,000 troops had crossed, 54,000+ vehicles and more than 100,000 tons of military equipment had been delivered to the beaches.
- World War Two dead … we must remember too there were many millions who died in other countries …
|An explanation for each recognised event|
in the theatre of war ...
Y is for the Young … our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and those to follow … as the Queen said: “Everything we do, we do for the Young”
Z is for Zero hour and one minute later …D-day + 1: = 7th June 1944 … all the beaches are secure – by the end of the day the Allies had disembarked more than 135,000 mean and had bridgeheads of varying depths along the Normandy Coastline.
- But on Omaha beach – the Americans were in a perilous situation as the Germans fought every inch of territory ... and by sunset a total of 10,000 had been killed, injured or were missing …
Z is not for Zee End of the sacrifices made … sacrifices are still made in the name of war – but the two World Wars and for this post the D-Day heroes …
- … Z is for Zee end of many who gave their lives, their family’s lives, their own abilities to free us but who were prepared to make that ultimate sacrifice … let us hope that present and future generations will remember to understand the momentous event that was D-Day – OUR FREEDOM … our ability to make our own choices … at least we can do that: many still cannot.
- Let’s not waste our antecedents’ sacrifice made so selflessly … the fight for freedom … raise our thoughts and minds in a solemn salute, a final poignant farewell … WE WILL REMEMBER.
Z is for Zenith … perhaps the single moment that represents our national achievement … the finest of British endeavours in peace or war, then it must be what was done by millions of our people (and Allies) of all ages and both sexes to make possible the triumph of landings in Normandy on 6th June, 1944.
|iphone photo of Ken Scott -|
at 98 - paying what he says
is his final visit to his fallen
friends - here he is lifted to
his feet for the last post.
How do you finish a post like this … with another story … amid the 4,000 graves of his fallen comrades, D-Day veteran Ken Scott struggles from his wheelchair to his feet …
- … wearing his original forage cap and a replica Second World War uniform adorned with medals, the 98 year-old former platoon sergeant with the Durham Light Infantry manages to raise a shaking hand to salute the Queen and those who gave their lives for freedom …
- … Supported on either side, his tears fall as the Last Post rings out across Bayeux Cemetery.
|A paratrooper in tears|
for his comrades ...
A few notes – this post is from a British perspective, but with some international aspects to remember in the scheme of things. I can’t seem to find out why the beaches were called Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah … perhaps the last two are obvious: linked to the USA.
It is long … but c’est la vie ...
Today another occasion occurred that triggered events leading to the First World War - the killing of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Saravejo - one hundred years ago: 22nd June 1914.
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
Gosh, Hilary that's not an A-Z it's an encyclopaedia!
I think it's important that we continue to teach children about war. One of the best tributes we could give those who gave their lives is to ensure future generations don't have to endure it.
This post brought a tear to my eye and gave me chills. When I was a reporter I had the privilege of interviewing a WWII glider pilot. He was overcome by emotion as we spoke, as was I.
Hilary, such wonderful and inspiring information here. I hadn't thought about the Queen being the only head of state old enough to remember. Thanks for putting this all together. It's a very moving post.
This is fascinating information; I will show it to my husband. God Bless each and every soldier who sacrificed in D-Day and helped in the victory. I have seen a couple tv shows about the men and women code breakers at Bletchley.
Hi Hilary, I have read it once and will read it all again - you have done an outstanding job with this post. It was a great idea to use the A-Z format and thank you for your link to my post. I think you have covered just about everything - an extremely moving post. Thank you.
Hi, Hilary. Wow, an information packed post in the form of A to Z. I'll have to show this to my hubby. He's big on history.
I had the experience of visiting the beaches at Normandy. It was a very sobering experience. The pain of war seems to still hang in the air.
Loved your N! That's amazing - and what a great reason to keep alive!
Thanks for a fabulous A-Z commemoration of a such a profound anniversary! Take care
While I'll never jump our of a plane, hope I'm still as able at aged eighty-nine.
Americans really had a large section of the beach.
Hilary, this is absolutely wonderful and amazing reminder of what sacrifices were made on D Day. Thank you for this!
Mary Montague Sikes
Wow, I think you just wrote a creative non-fiction picture book manuscript...The ABC's of World War Two.
@ Patsy - I needed to cover as much as I could to encompass the events - of 2014, as well as reminding us about the horrors of 70 years ago.
I agree we need to remind our children about War and its atrocities, as well as at times its necessity.
@ Janie - I can understand your emotion .. and many of the old timers have never really spoken of the time they spent at War ... the D-Day tv footage was exceedingly emotional to watch .. and I cried too .. and I cried writing this.
Your interview with the glider pilot must have been very very interesting ... and I hope you'll write about it for us ..
@ Mason - thanks so much I tried to include the salient bits covering many aspects ... and the fact about the Queen being old enough just to serve and to be involved in repairing vehicles ... while her father, King George VI played a significant role in keeping the morale of the country together .. was important to remember.
@ Terra - how lovely to see you ... and I certainly hope your husband approves of the post. Many sacrificed so much for us to be free ...
I haven't seen that much about Bletchley Park - but hope to visit the newly restored centre at some stage - I'm glad they've kept it and not razed it to the ground as was thought about!
@ Debbie - thanks for your story about Chester - that was amazing ... the secrecy held - and your life as such came about ...
Thank you re the A-Z format .. at least I can put in many snippets without it getting too formal - and it suits me ... there are things I'm sure I missed out - but I've covered quite a lot ... and the post seems to be approved of - that's the main thing ..
@ Susanne - thanks for your comment and I certainly hope your hubby approves .. I hope my history matches up here ..
@ Sherry - I need to go across to Normandy at some stage and now I've written this up and paid more attention to the privations those young men and women had to go through for our freedom - I knew - but the writing up of this brought it home ...
I'm certain the beaches and hinterland of the Normandy coastline would be sobering .. and so interesting you could feel the pain of war still hanging in the air.
@ Old Kitty - yes it was interesting to read about Salinger and his early chapters inspiring him on to come out alive ..
I'm glad you appreciate the post .. thanks
@ Alex - yes I've been gliding, but never jumped out of a plane - it didn't appeal ... but I too would like to be as able-bodied at 89: amazing man.
I didn't put in all the beach sizes .. but each nation was critical to the other .. and needed to be backed up ... and I kept most of the notes to the British aspect .. I'd have got too muddled and way too long to do much more ... so the Americans and Canadians all did their part, as the Brits and other Commonwealth countries did too ..
@ Monti - many thanks .. now I'm glad I've written the post, as I learnt so much ... especially about the sacrifices that were made.
@ Sharon - thank you so much .. it is certainly non-fiction and it has been creative in its setting down ... and I really appreciate that you think it could be made into a picture book .. a thought, to say the least ..
They gave so much for us those valiant men and women it's essential we keep acknowledging them .. it is a wonderful sunny summer's day here .. Hilary
This is a wonderful, yet powerful post. It is very close to my heart as my grandfather fought in WWII. Thank you for reminding us to think of those that had fought so bravely and who had to give their lives.
I love this post. So commemorative. Just totally awesome.
I always hate seeing the number of lives lost to save freedom for others, but I like freedom and appreciate their sacrifices.
LOL - inflatable tanks! I wonder what happened to them after the war?
Wow, what an incredibly awesome post! So much time and effort that you put into it. I'm learning more from you about European history than I ever did in school (and it's way more interesting the way you write it!) Thank you!
@ Murees - I'm sure many of us had relatives that fought in the War or who helped the war effort to a great deal ... and I know many came from South Africa too ..
@ Teresa - thanks so much .. it was very interesting and humbling to write up .. and like you I hate knowing men died and sacrificed their lives for us ..
@ Diane - my educated guess is they deflated?! And if they were of rubber, popped, or 'melted', or degraded as rubber bands do today ... I'm certain none remain - yet those guys with their balloon-animals could I'm sure make something similar ...
@ Beate - that's really kind of you - and though I hate to say it .. I am learning more than I ever did way back when!
Glad you all enjoyed the post .. thanks so much - cheers Hilary
The loss of life in World War I was pretty horrific too.
Great post Hilary and included several things I didn't know about. Matt and I both lived through it although I remember little or nothing. I have seen many of the war graves in France and they have an impact all their own. Quite horrifying. One wonders why humans are so stupid as to go to war.
This post totally reminds me of the Chris DeBurg song that will be PERFECT to pull up and listen to you YouTube after I post this. He mentions the Beaches of Omaha. And saying good-bye to the war, "Bye To It All" is (I think) the name of the song. From 1987, I believe. Beautiful soaring melody, and electric guitar in that.
Thank you for another deep and lovely share.
Wow, amazing post. Donald Duck tanks. What a funny name. I can't believe it's been seventy years.
Today things are changing into world plutocracy.
Only way to deal with that is to not buy into it which many do.
Staying independent as much as you can by growing own food having own wells, wind mills/solar power for electricity. Buying goods made by your neighbor instead of from china.
etc...Long live the Queen.
Hilary, you wrote a book here.
I will come back to read your interesting post.
Enjoy the summer.
This is truly amazing.
Thank you so much for your considerable research and stunning account of just what went on on D-Day and after.
Your account of this historic struggle to rid the world of Nazi evil is amazing.
I shall read this many times and marvel as to what we owe to those brave young men ~ Eddie x
Hilary, you've written your first novella!! Woah, so much research represented here. I shared a picture on facebook which showed the nurses arriving on the beaches to tend to the injured men. As the person who shared it said, these unsung heroes don't get much of a look in, but the war effort would have been much nastier without these brave women at the front.
@ Jo - I'm getting to WW1 and any loss of life is awful. I wasn't around and didn't take much interest .. which I obviously should have done - but I expect everyone wanted to forget. I certainly taught myself loads and I need to visit the War graves. The human race is certainly an odd creature ..
@ Jannie - how lovely to see you - and I don't know the song .. but I've just found to it .. and very appropriate lyrics and yes he does mention Omaha .. and the nurses ... whom I should have put in ..
Still you've given me an idea for another post linking in with something I wanted to write anyway ...
Thanks I'll be over to see how you're all getting on ..
@ Jeanne - I suppose they had flappy pant lines .. ie the skirt of the tank that would allow it to float into the coast before once again becoming a tank .. and 70 years does seem 'centuries' ago ...
@ A Lady's Life - thankyou for your thoughts
@ Julia - good to see you .. I and I hope it passes muster for you ..
@ Eddie - many thanks .. thankfully I don't have to write that coherently, but highlight a few aspects many of us might not have known, or thought of ..
I forgot the medical staff and nurses ... but I'll amend that in the next post or so ..
I really appreciate your comments ... and we do owe an incredible amount to our parents, grand parents or great grandparents ...
@ Denise - I had a note on the Nurses but failed to put them in for N - I regret that now .. I'll redress it in another way ..
The medical stations were set up pretty quickly and the staff and supplies must have been in the 2nd and 3rd invasion waves across the Channel ..
I certainly need to redress the medical omission ..
One of the advantages of this format of writing my A-Zs is I can squeeze in lots of info .. as long as I don't forget major bits .. like the medics/nurses ...
Thanks everyone .. so pleased you seem to have appreciated the post - cheers Hilary
Hilary, who needs Google?
You could start your own Google/Wikipedia website!
It's very interesting to read that JD Salinger brought the manuscript with him as a lucky charm...
...and the poor families left behind after reading one of those “Darling, if you read this I’ve been killed …” letters...
...the Cross Of Sacrifice is such a beautiful structure in honour of the Ultimate Sacrifices made by so many...
great post Hilary!
ha. i may need to use this as the study guide for this section of world history...wow...that is def an encyclopedia...pretty staggering to think of the effects of our wars...
I love the alphabetical theme, what a great idea! I also loved the Queen's quote about our actions - so true and something to consider always.
Hope your week is going well!
Hilary. it feels superfluous to even comment here. So much has been said already but this is definitely the best thing I have read about d-day. A virtual Tour-de-force!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
This is a wonderful post, like you always do.
Can you imagine working for Hitler? Even those he favored must have faced his wrath, I would imagine, at one time or another.
And the letter... 'If you're reading this...' I can only imagine the hurt those caused. :(
Absolutely brilliant post. Nothing quite like it. I always wanted to see Bletchley Park and learn more about those amazing young women. We need more stories like yours, Hilary to remind current generations about the bravery of the past generations which made our relatively free lives possible today
Oh my gosh, Hils. This is an amazing post. I'm bookmarking it to savor and savor. The Bletchley Circle...a 3-parter movie on Netflix. Four women who were friends during the war, all of them code breakers. The one is truly brilliant, and wants her friends to help her track a psychotic killer. Jen and I love it, and rewatch it when we want a compelling thriller. Knowing how it ends, I can concentrate on its excellence and the fascinating women...so well done. Gives me chills everytime!
p.s. That ann above is me, Hils. Ann Best. Now I've got Blogger messed up when I tried changed my email from gmail to aol. Oh well. Just know this is me. ((( )))
@ Michelle - now A for algorithms would floor me!! But thank you so much ... thankfully I could curate the information here ..
@ Brian - many thanks .. but there's a lot missing - still the thoughts are there to cross refer to elsewhere ..
@ Karen - this seemed to be another post where I could use the A-Z in the format I've taken to posting on occasions .. I can get more in. It's amazing how great leaders can hone in on the important words ... the Queen did that here ..
@ Bazza - thankfully many others wrote wonderful pieces and I was able to select items to give a superficial overview of it all .. but enough to make us sit and up and think ... so thank you ...
@ Rosey - thank you ... and the thought of working for any tyrant, or dictator horrifies me ...
So many of those letters must have been received ... all through the War, both wars ... to live in that period would so difficult, but to lose your husband or son .. so much worse ..
@ Nat - many thanks .. writing the post this way gives me a chance to bring more salient pieces of information in .. and from the ideas I hope others can look further if they wish ...
We are extremely lucky today to live in a democracy which pulled together and someone had an overall plan ... so many aspects to consider ... I wonder if anyone has written about leadership, egos and tying all the lose ends together so WWII could succeed ... compared to Hitler in his bunker ...
@ Ann - thanks I realised 'twas you .. I haven't heard of the film or programme you mention on the Bletchley Circle ...but I've an article here on the CodeBreakers at Bletchley ... so I suspect I'll do a post soon ..
It's obviously an enjoyable moving programme, especially if you and Jen enjoy it so much ...
Cheers everyone .. thanks so much -I really appreciate your supportive comments - Hilary
Lots of good information in here - this post must have taken a while to put together.
I'll bet those veterans loved sitting down with the Duchess of Cambridge.
Wow! Amazing information! I think it's so cool that JD Salinger kept his novel with him as a reason to survive.
With all that information, the thing that still rings in my head is that all this happened only 70 years ago.
I didn't mind the length. I gobbled up this post and all it's interesting facts and stories. You did a wonderful job of doing an A-Z about this important time in history.
As my father was in WWII, this post was very interesting to me and I believe it's important to remember and honor those who served in this war and others.
I loved all the information about the different military vehicles designed by Major Percy Hobart:~)
It is amazing, Hilary, how you dig out the most interesting facts about history -- things I never knew, like the aluminium milk bottle caps...who knew how these would be used! Clever.
This is wonderful post. I wish my dad were still alive and could read it. I know he would have enjoyed as much as I did:~)
Holy cow, what an amazing post. So much work went into that, and brilliantly done. Such a monumental effort and sacrifice that day. We should never forget.
And I am so enthralled with news of Bletchley. Amazing that the men and women who worked there could not speak of their contribution to the war effort for decades! Not even to their families. Their work did so much to end the war sooner than it could have.
It was such a monumental moment in history. And an incredible post by you, Hilary. Just wow.
You've done it again. Impressed the heck out of me. You deserve an A to Z Bonus for this.
What an amazing number of facts and images. Let us never forget the cost. You've done your share to ensure that we don't.
What a fabulous post Hilary - so much information ... it sent a shiver through me reading all the facts and figures ... and a smile for the 2 friends - exactly! if they're like that at 89 what were they like at 19!!
@ Lynn - yes a little while! But I know it'll be worth it as I learn so much ..
I'm certain the vets enjoyed their tea with the Duke and Duchess .. they moved around too ..
@ Cherie - lots of information .. but I thought the fact Salinger took his novel with him for good luck was so interesting ..
@ Holly - yes so many things happened relatively recently and we forget it wasn't that long ago ..
@ Sara - it was the easiest way to write the post ... as I can add in more snippets than I might just writing an article .. and the info stands out.
Like you my father was at Normandy ... and at that age it must have been very very difficult - and we do need to remember what those amazing fathers or grandfathers of ours did for us - so recently too ...
You can see where the War Games' weapons come from ... many devised by Major Percy Hobart ...
I remember collecting milk-bottle tops, and an elderly resident told me other stories which I've blogged about ..
I'd have been interested to see what 'my elders' would think of this post ... but in fact I'm not sure I would have written it if they'd been alive .. mind you my uncle was impressed with my blogging and my mother enjoyed my stories - sadly I'll never know ..
Thanks for being such an appreciative commenter ...
@ Luanna - I just collated information ... the armed forces who freed us were quite extraordinary in their dedication to make sure they had freedom, and thus their progeny too ..
Bletchley - I must write a bit more about that too .. the secrecy so many held their tongues is completely thankful .. we were so lucky ..
@ Mary - thanks so much - D-Day was a day in history that mustn't be forgotten ...
@ Lee - thanks to you too .. I'm just grateful I could curate the information into my own style for posting ..
The cost of life, the cost of damage, the cost of impediment and no doubt many more apart from the actual cost in dollars, pounds, or Deutschemarks ..
I hope people will be back to read as the years go on ..
@ Fil - good to see you - it really affected me writing it up .. and yes weren't the two friends meeting up again amazing ...
We were lucky we had such inspirational characters on our side and democracy prevailed .. thank you so much for your comments - cheers Hilary
I was most aware that your post would go into meticulous detail. Even I did not expect such an incredibly thorough article. The A to Z and beyond
What I consider the most profound part of the D-Day Remembrance was those honoured veterans who re- enacted their parachute, in tandem, seventy years on.
Thank you for this powerful tribute, dear Hilary.
With respect to the fallen and the survivors.
Such a sad and scary time in the world... War is never a happy thing, but especially when so many are caught in the cross hairs.
Lovely tribute, Hilary.
What a great story about the two brothers.
Thank you for writing this post, it was really interesting, and we always need to remember.
I'm watching the Bletchley Park series now and loving it. I loved the story about the brothers and the friends who hadn't seen each other in four years. I've sent a link to this post to my husband as he is a WW II buff and will love this. This was an amazing post Hilary. Thank you so much for sharing all of this information...
Thank you, Hilary, for that. It's a beautiful tribute of respect and honor to all who contributed. What got to me most was the returning veterans meeting old friends, and the respect and honor shown to them. I'm in awe of the men and women who crawled up those beaches under relentless gunfire, most of them dying, yet they just kept coming until the beaches were secure and the mission accomplished.
The scale of it all is staggering. The numbers - you just have to stop and really imagine the size of this - and coordinating it all to happen at the right time. I LOVE that they broadcast their intentions on the radio - what a neat "little" fact.
So much here. My brother-in-law will enjoy this for his collection of WWII stories. He has been studying it his whole life - it's his "thing."
You are amazing, my dear friend.
Tina @ Life is Good
On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!
@ Gary - many thanks .. but I forgot one or two things essential and perhaps I'll put them along with the War Graves post ...
Gary - I'm just so amazed at the effort those wonderful servicemen put in each year to acknowledge their fallen comrades .. and wasn't that chap brilliant for jumping yet again 70 years later ... "feet up Jock" .. that's what he was instructed to do ... and they landed spot on next to Prince Charles .. brilliant I quite agree ..
I was very emotional watching it all .. and as you say with respect to the fallen and the survivors ...
@ Crystal - War is dreadful .. but this was a poignant commemoration and brought home for those of us interested ... I was glad I watched - as at one stage I was thinking I'd miss it ... I knew so little, I have an idea now ...
@ Annalisa - wasn't that such an amazing coincidence .. the two brothers meeting in a ditch .. incredible set of circumstances .. and we do need to remember ..
@ Lisa - We must have had something on Bletchley Park here - but I've missed it completely .. I expect they'll do something else at some stage or repeat it ..
The friends who met up once again - is wonderful isn't it ..
I hope your husband enjoys it - it will be completely different to the type of technical and intellectual information he'd usually have been reading ..
@ Tina - thanks for taking time out to read this .. it certainly brought a great deal home to me about the War, that I had had no idea about .. or for that matter interest in - not because I didn't want to know .. just because it was killing and I'm not happy about that - however much the necessity .. thank goodness for the leaders who were able to put the plan into place and actually action it ...
The scale of it, as you say is quite staggering, and co-ordinating it to happen ...
Thank goodness the Germans didn't believe us Brits!
Considering there were other theatres of War going on too - Eastern Europe( Nazis v Soviets), down in the Mediterranean and Africa .. all needing to be co-ordinated ... without the ease of communication we have today .. it does beggar belief somewhat ..
I hope your brother-in-law appreciates the post ..
Thanks to you all for such lovely comments .. cheers Hilary
This post gave me the chills as I read. One second I smiled at the two "friends" and then nearly cried at the "letters." My dad landed on Utah Beach and returned there in 1994 on the 50th Anniversary. Such an emotional trip for him. He's no longer with us and it's sad to think none of these veterans will be around for another commemoration of this day.
its the quote by the germans...on them being crazy to swim up right into the muzzles that i keep coming back to...
hope your week ends well...
I'm late! I will have to read these again. That's so impressive about Mr. Hutton jumping at age 89. And I never thought of the Queen as the only Monarch who would remember D-Day. That's also impressive.
Wow Hilary, this is simply incredible. So much information, I am saving it as part of a study lesson for my homeschooled girls. Brilliant and it must have been so time consuming. Thanks.
What an amazing post - it's like reading an encyclopaedia! So much fascinating detail here - Hitler waiting till after breakfast to get the news, the paratroopers' reunion in the cornfield, the confessed code that then wasn't believed!! (I bet that was a relief for the tortured person, if they survived). The queen's green outfit is stunning. Thanks Hilary, I got behind as I've been very busy, but nice to catch up again.
An impressive detailed touching post
about D day. It touched my heart to read about the brothers meeting each other by coincidence and the old friends and the sergeant who raises his hand. So much bravery and sadness. Holland has a lot to be thankful to them as well.
Hilary, Leave it to you to go above and beyond covering this historical event in words and pictures. I will have to go back to re-read many of these fascinating facts. It was deeply moving to see the soldiers return seventy years later. Thank you for this historical masterpiece, Hilary! I could see this appearing on PBS.
@ Julie - I was emotional as I watched, read and curated for this post and thought about many things.
That's so lovely to know your father went back over to Normandy for the 50th anniversary .. and I bet he was pleased he'd made the effort and could commemorate his comrades then and now.
That's right - and it was so important to have this last commemoration ... some may make 75 years and one or two even 80 years after D-Day itself: 6th June 1944 ... we'll see ...
I'm glad you know your father went on his anniversary return trip - you must be so proud of him.
@ Brian - the reality of that day is not something I want to dwell on - but sadly was true ... and the soldiers instructions wade by, walk by - desperate to have to obey that ...
At least we're free and can enjoy our weekends ...
@ Joylene - no worries, one advantage of blogging .. the posts are there for consumption at any time ..
It was interesting to be reminded that the Queen was old enough to serve in the War, and would have remembered her father and mother dealing with the dreadful crisis occurring ...
@ Rhonda - I hope the girls can learn a lot ... and relate those times to today's world ...
I certainly didn't put the worst bits in ... dreadful days and nights ..
@ Juliet - Sadly I suspect the tortured person didn't survive - the prisoners treatment was just appalling ...
The Queen's green outfit is green isn't it!! There was so much to write about .. but I'm happy you appreciated it ..
@ Marja - many thanks - yes the Dutch, and the French played such an important role in bringing down the Nazis ... the Resistance fighters were a very brave bunch ...
It must have been such a difficult time for the Europeans in the west - and thank goodness for our leaders being able to get us all out of the War by ending it ..
@ Julie - I appreciate your thoughts .. I wish it was original .. but I'm glad to bring an overview of aspects of the War into one of 'my style' posts ..
Thanks so much everyone ... I'm glad I plucked up courage and wrote the post, even if I curated others' words - this format makes it easier to put together ..
Cheers and have good weekends ... Hilary
This is a very comprehensive post.
I agree with Patsy. Teaching the younger generations to prevent wars.
How interesting that the troops used bicycles...
Very nice selection of pictures, and the same applies to the interesting post you wrote about the queen. I read it a few days ago but I left no comment.
Sorry for this delay but my week has been hectic!
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn so much...
Wonderful post, Hilary. This sort of thing always makes me teary. Especially that coincidence of the brothers and the two friends meeting up. The greatest generation, those who fought and lived through in WWI and WWII...
It is a great moment, I agree, but in a sense, it was senseless and atrocious too.
Yes, it made our freedom possible, but at the cost of thousands of innocent lives on both sides, lost because of a few select people's greed.
What a brilliant post, Hilary. There are a lot of things in here that I already knew, but there are so many other things that are new to me... the personal stories, especially, that make the telling that much more poignant. Thanks for all the research you did to put this together. I think it's your best post ever.
You amaze me with so much research. What a post. I was especially touched by the brothers who hadn't seen each other for years. Amazing.
My father was an only child. He was stationed in Britain and helped with a few events to benefit orphans. My stepfather was in the air force and flew a spy plane over Japan. He had one gun with one bullet to take his own life if shot down and captured.
My mother's birthday is June 8.
As always, your post is informative and full of emotion.
@ Julia - life is hectic thankfully - so it's just lovely to see everyone, when they can get here.
Somehow we need to engage people to be diplomatic and not enter into Wars .. and solve things without bullying, but we need to understand the bigger picture - the communities and peoples ..
The main thing is a few things came to the fore to remind us or enlighten us .. thanks ..
@ Deniz - me too .. I tear up rather more often than I should and yes as you mention - those recent generations are great and have done so much for us all .. to live as we do today.
@ Misha - sadly yes - atrocities, but we needed to free ourselves from Hitler, the dictator, then Stalin .. and so it goes on ..
Always innocent lives are lost .. particularly in the two Great Wars;
peoples' greed leads to other monstrosities occurring ... we live in a difficult world with many challenges ... I hope we can start to resolve these ...
@ Susan - I'm sure through your radio hams and connections in that world - much would be known .. but as you say it's the personal remembrances that bring the full horror of the War and the fact we're still all the same ... people living lives ... despite being called up to fight ..
It was a very poignant day ...
@ Nancy - many thanks I pulled threads together - and then you comment and give us extra thoughts .. about your father and your step-father ...
I didn't go into aspects on the rest of the War ... but your step father's mission must have been very daunting .. and they were so young, with those instructions ...
Birthdays don't count in War do they ..
Thank you so much - I'm really grateful for all your comments .. all the best Hilary
Incredible post! I had no idea about Salinger -- that is so cool.
You've done a lot of research- very impressive! Have you thought of starting up a wikipedia page?
In New Zealand we have ANZAC day on the 25th of April to remember the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who died.
@ Milo - thanks .. one wonders how many other artists lost their lives, yet Salinger survived, which was very fortunate.
@ Sarah - many thanks - I wish I was competent and knowledgeable enough to start a Wiki page - the blog keeps me happy .. but it's not categorised terribly well. Still really appreciate your thoughts ..
Your Anzac Day is to commemorate all those service men "who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations" and too was started after World War One ...
It is to mark the first campaign that led to major casualties .. Our British Remembrance Day recognises the end of WWI: Nov 11th ... I've written about that ... "Poppies on Remembrance Day" - last year ..
Thanks for taking so much interest .. and for your own information ..
Cheers to you both - Hilary
incredibly inclusive, comprehensive, historical and emotional compilation. extremely well done to mark this most important day in the world's history. congratulations on your POTW at hilary's!
Very interesting facts to enjoy. You spent a lot of work on this project.
@ TexWis - many thanks I'm glad it made sense to you and it is important that we remember many of the layers that happened that day ...
@ Out on the Prairie ... appreciate your comment -thank you ..
Conrats on POTW Hilary.
This great DDay account really stirred me ~ Eddie
Hi Eddie .. thanks so much for promoting me as Post of the Week .. really kind of you .. I was able to pull other's information into a readable post that draws our attention and reminds us of the past ..
I'm grateful that you're reminding us about that dreadful war ..
With thoughts to all our losses .. Hilary
Wow big applause for you Hilary with such a comprehensive post. I think your S for sacrifice encapsulates everything that was on that day--so many gave so much.
Fantastic job with this one.
@ Slamdunk - many thanks .. and S for Sacrifice does, as you say, encapsulate everything that happened during both Wars, but especially here for the 2nd World War ...
Appreciate your visit - Hilary
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