It may seem like a distant memory, one that is not even really in living memory now, but World War Two is an import part of our history and indeed the history of the world.
A study was published a few years ago by Erskine, a veterans’ charity, that asked children between the ages of nine and fifteen a series of questions surrounding Remembrance Day. It was shocking to hear that one in twenty of the children surveyed thought that Hitler was the football coach for the German national team, the symbol to represent Remembrance Day was the golden arches at McDonald’s, the Holocaust was a celebration of the end of the war and that Auschwitz was a World Ward Two theme park.
It is astounding to think that the importance and devastation of both World Wars seems lost on many of the next generation. How can they learn from the past if they aren’t aware of it? The sacrifices made on our behalf should not be forgotten.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, something that the children Erskine questioned thought was Dooms Day. The Battle of Normandy was a time that should never be lost in the annals of history, such horrific loss of life and brutal warfare, it is extremely important for us to remember those who lost their lives and why.
We asked Paul Reed from Leger Tours, who is an expert on these battles a little more about D-Day and why it is so important to our history.
Can you explain to our readers about D Day and how pivotal it was to the allied efforts during WW2?
D Day was a turning point in WW2. It marked the beginning of the end of the war in the west: 11 months later Nazi Germany was in ruins and defeated. It was not possible without Allied units in Italy tying up German forces there and the assault in the east by the Russians.
Planning and preparation meant that the largest seaborne invasion in history had more of a chance of success than say Gallipoli in WW1: innovation and the use of intelligence allowed the allies to successfully put a force ashore with reasonable chance of success.
With the 70th Anniversary this year, why do you think it is important we remember what happened?
The sacrifice and service of those who made D Day possible is something worth remembering and is all too easily forgotten. It is important to remember the men and women who made it possible from the civilian engineers who helped built the Mulberry harbour to female code breakers at Bletchley Park to the assault troops who stormed the beaches, along with Naval gunners on the ships and bomber crew in the air.
The preparations for D Day began in 1943, why did it take an entire year to prepare?
The technology to get through the Atlantic Wall defences needed perfecting and was not ready in 1943. There was also a lack of landing craft and the assault troops had not been fully trained. An invasion in 1943 just was not possible.
What was most notable about the D Day landings?
That it was achieved with a loss of life well below what was predicted and the bridgehead established so successful that attempts to dislodge it failed.