My D-Day story

My mother had taken myself and my two brothers down the road some quarter-mile to our local Catholic  primary school that breezy June Tuesday morning, and delivered us into the capable hands of the headmistress and teachers. Whilst being uncertain of the lessons taught, from a vantage point of seventy years, I can confirm that there was no talking back to a teacher, no insolence, no backchat. Apart from the truth that we, as somewhat small children were in awe of our teachers, we knew that if word got back to our respective mothers, we would never hear the end of the trouble we would find ourselves in. Readers would note that I stressed ‘mothers’ as the recipients of any disciplinary comment from the school, as just about all our fathers were away, in uniform, serving our King and our Country. We probably played a little in the schoolyard at break time, but we were always aware that we could not leave the school, even for a short while because there was always the possibility of an air-raid warning siren, and the teachers warned that we had to be ready to run for the shelter entrance.
I was four years old, nearly five , and me and my brothers were just schoolkids, but we knew that people all over Newcastle were doing ordinary things, going to school, shopping, writing letters, the normal stuff of everyday life; we did not understand that over 150,000 soldiers; British, Irish, Canadian, American had poured ashore over a twenty-odd mile length of the Normandy coast line, aided by an armada of ships, a veritable cloud of aircraft and a hope that this invasion would be, literally, the beginning of the end. The end of the Nazi’s ‘Thousand year Reich’, the end of the Nazi dream of being ‘JudenFrei’; although we did not understand what that really meant until later in life. We were the victors, that breezy day in June, 1944, and we owe it to ourselves to remember that brave men and women fought and sometimes died so that we might recall a time when politicians had not given much of our freedoms away in an illusory dream of ‘Togetherness!’

10 comments for “My D-Day story

  1. Mudplugger
    June 6, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    As the son of one of those 150,000 Channel-crossers that day, a conscripted bloke who had spent the previous four years surviving through Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy to protect the independence of this nation, his nation, I know how he would expect me and others to vote on June 23rd and his memory will indeed be honoured in that way.
    It’s the very least we can do.

    • June 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      7th Armoured Division perhaps?

      • Mudplugger
        June 7, 2016 at 8:56 am

        Spot on – a proud ‘Desert Rat’, made with far more desert than rat.

  2. June 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    D-Day. My Dad was a twenty year old Ordinary Seaman (Signals) on the second wave LST’s (Landing ship, Tank), Juno beach. Later resupply on Juno and Sword. He always said he enjoyed himself, often speaking of rockets from the barges and battleship artillery whooshing and screaming overhead as they grounded on the beaches.

    He never liked the EU though, even in its earlier iteration as the ‘Common Market’.

  3. Henry Kaye
    June 6, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I remember D-day. I remember the whole war as I was 8 years old when it started but I was too young to realise how terrible it was. I will never forget the intense patriotism and the recognition that we were all one family and I wonder now where it has all gone. Yes I’ll be voting leave and hope to see the resurrection of the pride in our country, it’s traditions, history and values.

  4. June 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Glad you put that up, Mike. I’ve only just got back and was about to. And embarrassingly, I can’t recall a thing from that day, not being around so to speak.

  5. M Davis
    June 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I was six years old and my Cousin, who was two years older and lived a few doors away, shouted up to the bedroom window where I slept and called, “M, put flag out, War’s over”. I will never forget that.

    Vote Leave!

  6. johnd2008
    June 7, 2016 at 3:04 am

    My father was too old and unfit to be called up so he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was a Lorry driver and would take me with him whenever he could. He delivered to all the car factories in Coventry and I can remember the By pass verges and centre reservation being full of military vehicles parked nose to tail for miles.Then about a week after D Day,they were all gone.I can remember going into the centre of Coventry after the bombing and seeing the empty centre, no buildings, just the roads. Whatever did they do with all the rubble, I have often wondered. Noone has ever written about clearing up after the battles and how all the wreckage was disposed of.

  7. June 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the memories. We all have a lot to be thankful for.

  8. Happy Bunny
    June 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    My father was in the Durham Light Infantry and, having spent most of the war training other troops to use weapons, decided to volunteer for the job of glider pilot for the as-yet-unannounced D-Day landings. He knew the risks: you were towed behind a bomber and had to put down the glider in pitch dark countryside, hours before the actual invasion began. The glider load would be men or stores or even some light vehicle — which reportedly would rip free of their ropes and hurtle forward on the impact of landing, if you were able to land in one piece that is among the trees, hedgerows and marshes.

    Possibly the only reason I am here to to write this is because apparently my dad’s mental arithmetic was not considered good enough, and he was turned down (I presume therefore they had lots of volunteers for that job) Anyway, his chances of survival had he been accepted would have been vanishingly small, so I suppose I am grateful he couldn’t do the rapid calculations that even being a glider pilot required.

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