Excuse this brief deviation from my usual light-hearted nonsense, but as it is such a special commemorative date, I didn’t feel I could let it go unmentioned here.
The handsome chap in the front of the picture above is my Dad, a member of No 4 Commando, on his way to the D-Day landings at Sword Beach, 6th of June 1944; 70 years ago today. He was 22 years old.
If you are in the UK you may be familiar with the picture, as the BBC seemed to use it a lot whenever D-Day has been mentioned over the years. Probably because there is a lack of film footage of the crossing that day. The image has even been captured in the D-Day tapestry on display in Portsmouth in Hampshire.
Our Dad was one of the lucky ones that made it off that beach and through the war; going on to raise a large brood of 6 children. Finally succumbing to several strokes and passing away at 62.
Like most Veterans of war, my Dad rarely mentioned anything about that period and indeed became an expert in deflecting any questions about it. If there were remaining ‘demons’ of that terrible conflict, he kept them to himself, and we would never have known. That ‘time’ was not one of counselling or being encouraged to talk about such things as post-traumatic-stress-disorder.
We grew up with many ‘sort of cousin’s ‘, extra people, treated like relatives in our already large family. They were children of other No 4 Commando’s, both living and dead that were enveloped and supported in the fellowship of my Dad’s Commando mates and himself.
He taught me many things, such as the importance of laughter (he was always having a belly laugh about something!); perseverance (giving up on anything was never an option) and how to grow things: flowers, vegetables, people. I remember when I was about 9, during a D-Day commemoration the BBC were using the above picture and movie clip . I asked my Dad “why is your picture was on the telly, what are you doing?” he replied “oh, that’s just me going to work in a boat”.
*Mindful of the sacrifice of many and forever grateful. Lest We Forget.