On the 75th anniversary of D-Day I wanted to pen a tribute to the 10,000+ Allied casualties who lost their lives during the Normandy invasion, on June 6th 1944. Codename Operation Neptune, a massed incursion aiming at securing an Allied foothold on Western France. This offensive ultimately securing an area which by the end of June had allowed the landing of 875,000 Allied forces, significantly strengthening their WWII position against a thus far well ‘dug in’ German nemesis.
Sitting here in a Costa coffee shop in Leeds, though, I’m finding it difficult forming an essay without of liberal scattering of cliche and unoriginality. By this I mean that over the years, the huge scale of human loss, individual bravery, stoic resolve and family grief have been transcribed abundantly in prose. Something I’m keen to avoid if possible, instead aspiring to relay in narrative how their actions have impacted my life as a writer.
On reflection, though, writing something truly original about one of the most significant military campaigns in modern history is a nigh on impossible achievement. Consequently, the following paragraphs will contain unavoidable observations of regurgitation. That being said, wherever possible I’m keen to avoid oft the used locutions present in numerous pieces of contemporary D-Day text. In particular, avoiding overuse of words such as:-
‘fearless, courageous, daring, valiant, intrepid, bold, dauntless, undaunted, undismayed, confident, unafraid, plucky, unabashed, chivalrous, valorous, heroic, adventurous, dashing’.
Akin to an Operation Neptune landing craft, my knowledge of military history is too riddled with bullet holes to write an informed piece relating to events of that harrowing, WWII changing day 75 years ago. I’ll leave monologues of that nature to experts, or those less concerned with cliche.
Without wishing to appear crass, one thing I can chronicle with certainty is those taking part in the D-Day landings would’ve experienced a significantly worse morning on 6th June 1944 than GJ Strachan is currently experiencing 75 years on.
Those involved in the Normandy incursion subject to numerous life-threatening risks, including German machine gun fire, drowning and inadvertently treading on a land mine.
Alternatively, this middle-aged north Englishman sits ensconced in a West Yorkshire coffee house sipping an ice cold latte. His biggest worry being the utilisation of incorrect grammar, or the excessive use of referring to himself in the third person…… With purchasing an iced latte he doesn’t even have to worry about his coffee going cold!…… Ok, Gary! Enough of the penning in the third person already!
Living with my wife’s incurable cancer, recent family bereavements and my heart attack in January, my life race is more of a stagger than a run at the minute. That being said, the scale of fear those factors have introduced into my existence will pale into insignificance compared to those served as cannon fodder three score and fifteen summers ago.
If it wasn’t for those soldiers of conscript and vocational choice, who knows, I might be speaking in German now; prohibited from utilising the free speech I cherish. A right afforded to me for which I’m eternally grateful.
This freedom allowing yours truly to chronicle essays with considerably fewer content restrictions than I’d enjoy if Operation Neptune had failed and WWII’s conclusion had ultimately taking a darker final path.
The bravery of Allied forces on 6th June 1944 is a rightly oft chronicled observation. In our self-indulgent times, though, perhaps less commonly proffered in essay is our gratitude and the tangible benefits we in the free world are afforded due to their grim experiences 75 years ago.
Our freedom is far too often taken for granted……. Thank you!!