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Service men saluting in Normandy War Cemetery respecting D-DAy

D-Day – 80th Anniversary – We owe more than just respect…

Thirty years ago, around this time, I was on a family holiday in the Dordogne, where I managed to buy the Sunday Times to catch up on the wider world when the kids didn’t need my attention. I was unaware that the supplement inside would bring tears to my eyes.

That supplement, commemorating 50 years since the D-Day landings, provided a comprehensive overview of the strategy and objectives of the assault and detailed what truly happened to various troops on the different beaches. Reading true accounts by soldiers who survived the assault was overwhelming.

I’m embarrassed to say that while I was aware of the events and their significance in WWII, my understanding was probably more influenced by old films than by reading about the subject.

The extent of the supplement covered all aspects—from the strategy and preparation beforehand to the great lengths of deception the Allied forces went to avoid raising attention. I learned about the tragedy that happened well before the invasion started, where 946 Americans lost their lives at Slapton Sands during preparations for the assault.

D-Day 80
D-DAY 80 Heroes. Lest we forget

The jeopardy played with tides and the weather delayed landing craft that were caught on sandbanks. Troops, burdened with 100pound plus packs and facing enemy fire, jumped into deep water with no possible way of saving themselves. The various troops, caught by outgoing tides, faced 150-plus yards to make cover with their full packs, rather than the anticipated 50 yards, all under enemy fire.

The supplement also highlighted the importance of the D-Day assault behind enemy lines to secure vital bridges, crucial for advancing troops once beachheads had been established. It detailed the sheer volume of logistics and the ingenuity employed to establish strongholds on the beaches.

I read every single page of that supplement, captivated by the immense human endeavour and sacrifice it described. The bravery and resilience of the troops, who faced unimaginable horrors, left me in awe.

Even now, thinking about their courage and the monumental challenges they overcame brings tears to my eyes. Their stories are not just historical accounts; they are profound reminders of the extraordinary strength and spirit of those, in all aspects, who serve in the forces that fight for freedom.

The sheer magnitude of their sacrifice continues to move me deeply, underscoring the immense cost of our liberty.

We owe those men and women more than just respect, we owe them an awful lot more.  

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