|Cyril from the front page of the Telegraph 6th June 2014|
Today marks the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord, or D-Day, a massive seaborne invasion by the Allied Forces on the beaches of Normandy that marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
Over 150,000 British, American and Canadian troops landed on Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach with bicycles, bulldozers, tanks, jeeps and trucks, plus there were over 11,000 aircraft to support them. By 11th June over 300,000 troops and 54,000 vehicles had landed in France. Even today these are huge numbers to comprehend as are the number of lives lost.
|Mulberry Harbour Gold Beach|
I am not the first in our family to have links with France. My Granddad, although not part of the D-Day landings was in France for about three years during the Second World War where he served in the Royal Artillery. He would have been 36 years old at the time of the landings and had a wife and young family at home. Details about his time in the War are sketchy, but he was certainly part of the liberation and repatriation teams working in France, Belgium and Germany.
|Cyril in Normandy 2004|
My Dad’s cousin Cyril, aged just 19 was one of the first to land on Gold Beach on D-Day. He was driving a bulldozer that was used to search for mines and then to help push the landing craft back into the sea, living on the beach for around eight weeks. Miraculously he survived and spent the rest of the War in France, Belgium and Holland. This year he will be celebrating his 90th birthday and despite having had a rough few years he is with his two sons in Normandy today and even made the front page of the Telegraph newspaper this morning. He has returned many times over the years and I’m pleased to report that a big fuss is being made of him and the other veterans.
I cannot imagine the horrific sights he must have seen that day and during his time serving during the War, and at such a young age.
19, is only two years older than my nephew Alex who is studying for his A-Levels and due to take his driving test next week.
19, is only four years older than my nephew Ben who is currently sitting his GCSE’s.
19, is only six years older than Ed, my baby!
I will be taking the time to think about all our heros today.
We will remember them.