It has been announced that a special commemorative memorial is planned for Normandy in time for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Apparently, quite rightly so, it will pay remembrance to all who fought, within any Military or Merchant, (civilian), capacity, representing all Nations involved – in respect of those who gave their lives, or subsequently later died of their wounds – others returned home wounded and also no doubt emotionally scarred for life. Many would have suffered with PTSD, an unrecognised condition as such in that day and age.
There is also planned a specific British Memorial and translation centre.
Albeit the beaches of Normandy have been scarred in practical and historical terms of D-Day (perhaps the tide still washes up an occasional reminder of one kind or another), they can never just be termed as stretches of beach again, which is no doubt why any memorial itself is not going to be at the approaches leading thereto, acknowledging sensitivities of all.
That said, one wonders if it would be suitable to return a gesture of pre War/D-Day innocence as well, such as a discrete little second monument in an appropriate area at the top of one approach to any given stretch of beach, depicting a group of children having placed flags into a stack of concrete sand castles, perhaps their hands still gripped to the little bases, about to let go – with buckets and spades nearby. The flags could be in place for safety, but represented would be ones of all relevant Nations being honoured.
Then when children visiting the beaches in generations to come see this monument, it gives their Parents, other relatives or friends an opportunity to explain its significance then also, take them to visit the main monument itself.
It always amazes me how service personnel were expected to be fighting one day then when eventually returning to their home country it was the norm, as soon as possible, to return to their former employment, if they still had one to go to due to a host of reasons, not of their making but because of the effects of the war itself (the owner may have also been ‘called up’ to fight and subsequently lost their lives, or a bombing raid anywhere in the UK could have destroyed homes, factories, shops, etc).
It was (and still is for those who have been or remain serving in modern day conflicts), a lot to expect of the human mind to have to kill for one’s Queen and Country one day and return to any civilian capacity post military service.
Following a recent visit to my local library, I found a most edifying book about Bletchley Park (and have referred to the work of that secret establishment in a previous article), but this particular published work is one I would highly recommend. ‘The Debs of Bletchley Park and Other Stories‘ by Michael Smith, published by Aurum Press, 2015.
The story of how personnel broke important Enigma Codes and events that were leading up to D-Day itself. It provides a great insight into the social times of years of WWII and limitations of available technical machinery, thereby creating the need for the skills of countless gifted people. There will be many other similar quality books but as I am currently reading this one I can highly recommend it.
We are all aware that Bletchley is recruiting again and especially seeking teenagers with IT skills.
We must all support the Monument in Normandy and honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, remembering the following, always…
“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”
John Maxwell Edmunds
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine