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D Day 6th June - turning point in WW2

 
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Soon the 60th anniversary. Probably a last reunion for many of the veterans, a chance to remember all the allied soldiers who died, including a huge number of Americans who had never left the US before.

It has been described as probably one of the most important days in recent history.

They died to preserve freedom and democracy in Europe, something we at times take for granted.

Hope some of you will take a moment to remember them.


: Back to MD
 
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The last major veterans' parade was this year as well.
The participants are indeed getting too old to take part, though there still light in their eyes and for many of them their step is still strong when they march with their former comrades in arms.
The prince (now over 90 years old) took the honours of the marching veterans as always standing tall in an old jeep in full uniform.

Lately even the Germans who opposed them are welcomed, which is a good sign (though still opposed by some).

Last year the veterans made their customary parachute jump onto the bridges at Arnhem for the last time, organisers deemed it inadvisable to continue the tradition given the age of the participants and their now brittle bones (remember many of them are now 70+ years old).

It will be sad to see this end, but you can't turn back time.
 
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BBC News have a section with in depth details on D-Day here

Some good accounts on "The Longest Day" from both sides.
 
Steven Broadbent
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My religious instruction teacher was at Arnhem.

A different generation, puts our day to day problems in perspective.
 
Mark Fletcher
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
My religious instruction teacher was at Arnhem.

A different generation, puts our day to day problems in perspective.



Well said.

Certainly the "hardships" that we have to put up with are different to what the generation of that time had to put up with. And I wonder if our generation would be as willing to make the same sacrifices.

However I tread carefully in this thread. Miscellaneous drivel is full of threads concerning politics or religion or race. I would warn those who would try and draw currency from the events of D-Day to further their own political views/arguments, to refrain from doing so. In my humble opinion it would be showing disrespect to those who sacrificed their lives on June 6th.

Mark
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Mark Fletcher:

However I tread carefully in this thread. Miscellaneous drivel is full of threads concerning politics or religion or race. I would warn those who would try and draw currency from the events of D-Day to further their own political views/arguments, to refrain from doing so. In my humble opinion it would be showing disrespect to those who sacrificed their lives on June 6th.

Mark



IMO it also shows disrespect to the people risking their lives today to call their efforts some of the things they have been called here and elsewhere...
 
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Originally posted by Mark Fletcher:


I would warn those who would try and draw currency from the events of D-Day to further their own political views/arguments, to refrain from doing so.
Mark



The Battle of Britain could just as easily be called the turning point of the war as well. Britain stood alone for a year against the Nazis in the West. Isolationist and anti-war political forces within the US effectively prevented the US from joining its traditional ally Britain while she was savagely mauled by the Nazi onslaught and the Germans were given additional time to fortify Normandy. That delay, which allowed those fortifications, cost thousands of allied lives. The British landing at beach code named Sword at Normandy had new advanced tanks that cleared minefields and barbed wire very quickly and effectively; saving many lives. The US was offered the same weapon technology but rejectd it.

War, at the right time, can save lives. Advanced weapons of destruction can save lives too. Honor our dead and let not the truths bought with their blood be in vain.
 
Mark Fletcher
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There are many decisive moments in the European theatre of World War II where the outcome of the conflict could have gone either way.

The Battle of Britain.
The Battle of Stalingrad.
The campaigns in North Africa.

To name but a few.

Its also easy as armchair historians to sit back and say "Well if X had acted differently..." things might have changed. However in the original context of this thread, the rememberance of those who died during the D-Day landings, thats neither here nor there and it would be better to raise these other discussions in another thread.

Similarly as Jeroen points out, in the present day there are those who have given their lives for a cause and perhaps we should pay our respects to those fallen soldiers also.

However once more, given the context of the thread, we're here to pay our respects to those who took part in the D-Day event and we should try and focus on that.

If we stray away from that point, we risk inviting the thin end of the wedge of all the bickering that takes place in the other threads in Miscellaneous Drivel. If we allow this to happen, if we cant issue restaint, then its a pretty sad day for this forum.
[ June 02, 2004: Message edited by: Mark Fletcher ]
 
Steven Broadbent
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The battle of Britain was the moment when the war could have been lost. D Day was a critical point in the other sense.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
The battle of Britain was the moment when the war could have been lost. D Day was a critical point in the other sense.



I see Battle of Britain and Stalingrad is the key points in time where the Nazi advance was stopped. D-Day was the key point were the Allied liberation of Western Europe began. Broadly speaking, they were the defense and offensive turning points.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Mark Fletcher:

Its also easy as armchair historians to sit back and say "Well if X had acted differently..." things might have changed. However in the original context of this thread, the rememberance of those who died during the D-Day landings, thats neither here nor there and it would be better to raise these other discussions in another thread.


[ June 02, 2004: Message edited by: Mark Fletcher ]



One can be a respectful armchair historian. Without knowledge of the historical context any respect and honor would be shallow at best. I can appreciate your concerns, but I see neglect of such discussions and historical apathy as a greater threat to the respect and honor due the dead. But as a procedural matter, yes, we could take it to another thread...
 
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I don't know about the rest of the people on here, but I know that if I was in a similar situation, standing on a tiny boat just about to run up a beach into oncoming fire, I'd be a complete wreck. The people that fought on those beaches are heroes who deserve a lot of gratitude. Whenever I see people being disrespectful to pensioners it makes me so angry - even those who didn't go to war and stayed behind (particularly in places attacked as part of the war) had to suffer tremendously.

Perhaps as we approach the anniversary of D-Day, we can reflect that for one of the few times in history countries like the UK, France, Germany, Spain are all allies. The fact that there is not a war in Europe, and has not been (outside the Balkans) for a long time, is an incredible achievement. Europe has been through a great deal, and lets hope that D-Day will go down in history as part of the final chapter of the continent's bloody past.
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Well said Joe. And let's never forget that without the US and their nuclear arsenal hanging a promise of destruction over the USSR war WOULD have broken out in Europe quickly after WW2 as the Soviets were quite capable and willing to drive on to the English channel and the Atlantic to expand their empire.

In fact, it's only the massive US presence backed by the existence (now known to have been a bluff as there were none left) of nuclear weapons in theater that prevented a Soviet drive on the Atlantic in 1945 which would have replaced one totalitarian regime with another.
 
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As my own tribute, I'm compelled to recall one of the many anecdotes my father shared with me some years earlier.

One morning, early into the war, my father was charged with carrying out a seemingly innocuous errand which would take him across the French countryside, to a small town. The trip from the Allied camp would be a few miles. So, armed only with a .45 Thompson, and a driver barely old enough to hold a legal driver's license in the States, my father set out to accomplish the task. The bruised and battered dirt road coughed up a trail of dust as the Jeep barreled over the hills and valleys. Eventually the town took shape in the distance.
Now, here is the interesting part. What the squad, and more importantly my father, did not know, is that the town was occupied by the Germans. So you can imagine these two GIs, bored to death, in a rush to get back to camp so they can do some real soldiering, about to plunge head first into a hornet's nest. The Jeep continued to charge forth and, according to the townspeople, the Nazis saw the Jeep, and the huge trail of dust, and thought it was a convoy of Allied troops approaching, so they gathered up their arms and made a hasty retreat. Needless to say, when the townspeople saw it was merely my father and some kid driver, well, it was nothing short of amazing.


What is amazing to me, is the fact that this is only one of several times my father had a brush with certain death. For him, and all the other GIs who had the courage to fight in the face of near certain death, I have the greatest respect.

Here's to all the small victories that won the war.
 
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One my grandfather died in 1956, another when I was 6. So no war stories for you.
[ June 02, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Jeroen Wenting
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My grandfather fought the Germans at the Grebbe line in May 1940 (where the Dutch army with only rifles and a few 100 year old frontloading artillery pieces held out for 5 days against several German Panzer divisions), later was interned and sent to Germany as forced labour.
He must have been very lucky as he survived both as one of the few (on the Grebbe I later found out he was one of only 3 survivors of his regiment), but he never talked about it.

My other grandfather died within days of my birth, so I never met him.
He was a bicycle mechanic too old to serve in the war (and lived in territory that was overrun on the first day of the war anyway).

My father was also lucky in that he missed the last troopship to Korea by days (he had his marching orders but the armistice was signed 2 days before they were to sail so those were cancelled).
 
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And let's not forget the men who fought in the Pacific campaign. This month is also the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Saipan. The fall of Saipan virtually assured that Japan would lose the war because it put Japanese cities within range of B-29 bombers.

My father-in-law was in the US Army and fought in New Guniea and the Phillipines. He was involved in two invasions, Leyte Gulf and Luzon. His unit was scheduled to invade the Japanese mainland in late 1945.
 
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I always think of the citizens in the Battle of Brittain. They thwarted one goal of the battle - to terrorize the populace into demanding surrender - completely by carrying on. A story about Edward R Murrow the other day related how he set his microphone on the ground during a bombing raid so the world could hear the footsteps of people making their way calmly to shelter, not scrambling in panic. Sorry about the reference to modern times, but this lesson is totally lost on those who seek to terrorize us now. We can learn from a shining example how to defeat them.
 
Jeroen Wenting
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The Pacific campaign has the disadvantage that most of it happened in such remote areas as to have little effect on anyone who has these days access to modern communications (plus far less people outside the troops involved were actively and directly affected by it).

The entire Pacific campaign is largely unmentioned here even in school history books except a few lines stating we assisted the British in the defense of Singapore which left the Dutch East Indies exposed for a major Japanese attack (turned out posession of the Dutch East Indies was the focal point of their entire campaign in order to get the oilfields there, something noone had guessed until it was too late).

Some books mention the major battle in which the entire Dutch Pacific fleet was destroyed while taking a major Japanese flotilla with them.

None at all mention the submarine and air campaign waged out of Australia in which our surviving forces were engaged constantly from 1942 to 1945.
Despite their far lower number the Dutch troops that fought on from Britain in the European theater get a lot of attention.
 
Steven Broadbent
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So many Americans from small towns we'll never know saw Europe for the first and only time from a landing craft. So many never even made it ashore.

We need to remember them at least once in our own selfish and comparatively comfy lives.

My Grandfather made it back from France and lived to see his great grand-daughter ( my daughter). Others of many nationalities did not.
 
Steven Broadbent
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mods?
 
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Ask, and you shall receive.

M
 
Steven Broadbent
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thx - first time I've ever asked!
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
The Pacific campaign has the disadvantage that most of it happened in such remote areas as to have little effect on anyone who has these days access to modern communications (plus far less people outside the troops involved were actively and directly affected by it).

The entire Pacific campaign is largely unmentioned here even in school history books except a few lines stating we assisted the British in the defense of Singapore which left the Dutch East Indies exposed for a major Japanese attack (turned out posession of the Dutch East Indies was the focal point of their entire campaign in order to get the oilfields there, something noone had guessed until it was too late).

Some books mention the major battle in which the entire Dutch Pacific fleet was destroyed while taking a major Japanese flotilla with them.

None at all mention the submarine and air campaign waged out of Australia in which our surviving forces were engaged constantly from 1942 to 1945.
Despite their far lower number the Dutch troops that fought on from Britain in the European theater get a lot of attention.




I enjoyed learning many historical facts (I knew nothing of Dutch efforts) and hearing war stories. This was a good day of rememberance.
 
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Isolationist and anti-war political forces within the US effectively prevented the US from joining its traditional ally Britain while she was savagely mauled by the Nazi onslaught and the Germans were given additional time to fortify Normandy.



A historical quibble, Herb. The US and the UK were nothing like 'historical allies' in 1940. That relationship was built up by Churchill and FDR and their predecessors. The US had been at war with the UK twice (Revolution and War of 1812) and the two countries had been at the brink of war twice (in 1840 and during the US Civil War). They had been allied once for less than 2 years during WWI.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Don Stadler:


A historical quibble, Herb. The US and the UK were nothing like 'historical allies' in 1940. That relationship was built up by Churchill and FDR and their predecessors. The US had been at war with the UK twice (Revolution and War of 1812) and the two countries had been at the brink of war twice (in 1840 and during the US Civil War). They had been allied once for less than 2 years during WWI.



Did I give too much weight to the US part of the WWI allied effort? In using the term "historical ally" yes, I did, but in terms of the common values of our two countries that stretch back to birth of the US and the depth of the solidarity in WWI, the US and Britain have always been brothers even if ocassionally it takes a world war to awaken them to that fact. Still your point is well taken. I was responding to the red flag waved in front of me to not make this a political issue. So, of course I gave a veiled reference and analogy to the current anti-war crowd and the WWII appeasenics...
 
Mapraputa Is
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Herb: I was responding to the red flag waved in front of me to not make this a political issue. So, of course I gave a veiled reference and analogy to the current anti-war crowd and the WWII appeasenics...

So do you care whether your grandpa died under all-stars-flag or under red flag? Come to think about it, you probably even care if your grandpa died on the wrong side of the flag....
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
My grandfather fought the Germans at the Grebbe line in May 1940 (where the Dutch army with only rifles and a few 100 year old frontloading artillery pieces held out for 5 days against several German Panzer divisions), later was interned and sent to Germany as forced labour.




Been thinking about this today, I want to say something, but how can I comment on this without sounding like a cliche? And if I use the words barvery, admirable and honorable, than I cannot rightly use those words again later to describe lesser acts in other arenas of life. So I cannot say anything, but by saying nothing I know some will understand.
 
Jeffrey Hunter
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
...but by saying nothing I know some will understand.



Perfectly.

I wish I could've used this strategy with some of my ex-girlfriends.
 
Thomas Paul
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It seems like such a short while ago that we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day and the veterans were mostly in their 70's. Now they are in their 80's and there will be very few left at the 70th anniversary.

I am reminded of when I was a child at the Memorial Day parades and there were these old men in their 80's and 90's who were veterans of the Spanish-American War. I recall talking to one man who rode with Teddy Roosevelt. Today, all those men are gone (the last, Nathan Cook, died in 1992). It is estimated that there are less than 1,000 WWI veterans alive. And our WWII veterans are rapidly leaving us. Remember to thank them while we have the chance.
 
Joe King
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What also strikes me about events like D-Day is how much luck had play. Part of the success of the landings was because Hitler was sure the Allies would attack further north of where they did - had the secret got out, things could have been very different. Another example of this is from a more personal story:

My grandfather was part of a Royal Marine Commando team that had the job of landing on one of the beaches and moving ahead of the main body of troops to locate and destroy a particular pill-box (fortified machine gun emplacement). The team of ten trained for this one mission for several months before the invasion. Everything went well as they approached the pill-box until the last minute when the road exploded. They're not sure what caused it, but it was most likely a type of mine that they were not expecting. Of the ten of them, only three (including my grandfather) survived the explosion. Somehow, despite being injured, they made their way back to the beach where they were placed in trenches in the sand. They had to spend the best part of an entire day waiting in these trenches until it was safe enough for the hospital ships to come in-land.

This demonstrates the "luck factor", both good and bad - it was incredibly unlucky that that particular road was mined in a way that they were not expecting, and it was incredibly lucky that my grandfather survived the explosion. I'm sure there are hundreds of other stories like this - people who survived or perished when the odds would have been against it. Given that the soldiers would have known this, that they could die at any moment despite all the best planning, their bravery seems greater yet. Despite all the dangers of modern warfare, we are still horrified when a single soldier dies. At D-Day they would have known that the chances of death were much higher.

The biggest shame is that after two world wars full of unthinkable destruction, mankind still hasn't rid itself of its terrible addiction to violence.
 
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Well, on D-Day my dad was probably half way up Monte Casino. He started out in Poland, spent some time in Siberia ( courtesy of the KGB ), then when the Germans invaded Russia joined the British army in Kazakhstan, spent time in Iran, Iraq ( including a spell guarding oil wells from Kurdish guerillas ), Palestine as was and then Italy. Theres a whole set of lucky breaks that ended up with him surviving the war and ending up in the UK - he could have ended up fighting on the German side (his town was invaded 3 times, twice by the soviets, once by the germans), or frozen or starved to death in Siberia, ended up in the Red Army, or not have tripped when he got shot in the shoulder, and had his head blown off instead.

I remember going to Monte Casino with him, to the Polish cemetry there, and the thing I remember most was how many of the men there he knew.

On a more light hearted note, after the war had ended, he was in charge of a train full of german POWs in Italy, waiting to be shipped back to germany. He stopped to let them get off to go to the toilet in the woods and only about half of them got back on - they would rather stay in italy than go back to germany and a pretty uncertain reception there.
[ June 03, 2004: Message edited by: Steve Wink ]
 
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