D-Day, 75 years on

It’s been a while between drinks on this site, my apologies, I’ve been busy getting a new company off the ground.

The 6th of June always resonates for me because it’s the day of the biggest seaborne invasion in history and the start of the liberation of France from the Nazis.

By June 1944 the Russians had been bashing away at the Nazis since they were invaded in June 1941. For three years they had been making unimaginable sacrifices, and by mid-1944 they’d pushed the Nazis back almost to the border of what is now modern Russia, as you can see in these front maps.

This entire time Stalin had been calling for a second front to divert some of the Nazi army. After the fiasco at Dieppe in 1942, in 1943 Stalin had ostensibly got what he wanted with the invasion of Sicily, and subsequently Italy.

Unfortunately, this hadn’t achieved anything like the intended result, and the Nazis were able to hold down the Allies behind a series of mountainous defences around Monte Cassino called the Gothic line.

The invasion at Anzio was intended to circumvent these defences, but due to the pusillanimous approach of American generals like Mark Clark, the whole war in Italy took relatively little pressure off the Russians.

Hence the importance of D-Day.

More has been written about this invasion than just about any other battle, and Anthony Beevor’s account is probably the best of them, so there’s no shortage of history around this battle.

All I wanted to do today, having been privileged to visit Sword and Juno, Omaha, Bayeux and St Mere Eglise, Pegasus Bridge and Pointe-du-Hoc, was acknowledge the incredible courage and bravery of the boys who jumped out of planes in the dark into flak, or stormed over the ramps of landing craft into machine gun and artillery fire, or rose up within France to fight the occupiers.

The Navy and Air Force and everyone else behind them all played a part, but we need to remember and give thanks for the courage of those boys who went into fire on that day in Normandy, and everywhere else around the world in forgotten battles in Russia and in the Pacific on that day.

Thank you. We will not forget you and your sacrifice.

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