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On the 6th of June, 1944…

This young man you see before you, cocky as hell, fit as a Butcher’s dog, hard as nails, and with a fag on, jumped out of a plane over Caen in Normandy from about 1000 feet, along with thousands of his brothers in arms. A 60Lb pack on his back, a Sten gun and a rifle, and a life expectancy of around 20 minutes, according  to War Department estimates.

Dad in uniform age 18 001

He was part of 6th Airborne whose  job it was to support the glider troops who were to take Pegasus Bridge and prevent a German counterattack, until British troops from Gold and Sword beaches could reinforce them. Despite being scattered all over the place, his group finally made it to Pegasus Bridge.

He lasted much longer than that of course, and from that moment on he was at the sharp end of every battle all the way to Berlin and beyond. He was in Holland checking out the cellar of a house when a Panzer tank took out the house above him, and the rest of his platoon. Leaving him buried alive. It took him 3 days to dig himself out. He had a clause in his Will that stated that in the event of his death, his main artery was to be severed, just to make sure, because there was no way in hell he was going to be buried alive again! He was one of the first troops into Belsen, and couldn’t believe his eyes (even after having friends and comrades literally blown to bits next to him) at the sheer horror and depravity that one evil twisted ideology could inflict on fellow human beings. The most heartbreaking thing, he told me was when they tried to feed the inmates from their rations and watched them go into shock and die. They had no idea that could happen. It felt like they had put a gun to their head there and then.

And yes that cocky crazy incredibly brave young man, was my Father in Law. In whom I have immense pride. But what I wonder now, did he fight for? He was told he was fighting for freedom and democracy and the liberation of Europe; The last Righteous War. And he was. Trouble is our Elites and Politicians didn’t let it turn out that way.

Dad in Para uniform latest 001

The Attlee Labour Government  promised paradise on earth after the privations of war (rationing continued until 1954) and won  a landslide victory. They proceeded to Nationalise everything that wasn’t nailed down, and pretty much everything that was too. Then ran the whole country into bankruptcy. From the NHS (the envy of the world! Funny no other country has ever tried to copy it though eh?) to the Welfare state, which was to be a safety net not a lifestyle. Government after Government thereafter (Tory or Labour it made no difference) conspired to manage the decline of Great Britain, not its resurgence.

We spent much blood and much gold and lost an Empire on a very righteous fight for freedom against unmitigated evil. You’d think that Europe would have been grateful eh? Well some of them probably were, but the movers and shakers  like President De Gaulle of France were moving and shaking towards a new, but very old idea… The United States of Europe.

At first they called it the Coal and Steel pact, between France and Germany. Both made interdependent so that Germany could never go to war against France again (by 1945 Germany was so fucked, disgusted and guilty with itself, they never ever wanted to go to war with anyone again, anyway), but with the arrogant French thinking they were going to be the leaders and the Germans the workers in this new world order. Well it didn’t work out like that.

Now a united Germany is the master of Europe, and calls all the shots. The “Ever closer Union” that condescending nutters like traitorous Ken Clarke, believes are just a form of words not a statement of intent, is getting ever closer to becoming The United States of Europe, and with as much democracy as Hitler himself would have allowed.

The Queen is even now laying wreaths with President Hollande (who would probably like to guillotine   her) in the Champs Elysees, and Chuckles Buggerlugs is doing the same in Arromanches where the Mulberry Harbour and Gold beach was, to all those who made such a noble sacrifice on behalf of Liberty and Freedom.

On such anniversaries such as this, and with  bitter tears in my eyes, I wonder if my Father in Law, dead over 20 years now, would have thought it worth the bother .

21 Comments

  1. John Galt says:

    Isn’t this the truth though? That every genuine war is a battle for survival, with the enemy at the gates marking the beginning, but the countless dead strewn across the battlefields is never the end. It only marks a period of quiescence, an interregnum in the rule of Mars – God of War.

    There have been few genuine wars of life and death for our nation since the Norman Conquest in 1066 – Although we have been involved in many wars – The Spanish Armada, The Napoleonic Wars and WW2 were the only times our country actually came under direct threat of aggressive invasion and conquest. Each time we stood shoulder-to-shoulder, often shaking with fear, but pressed on against all hope.

    D-Day remains within living memory of only pensioners now, a generation hence, none will be left. It is right and proper that we give thanks to both the dead and the few remaining, they that chose to stand and fight and not to yield.

    I thank you for my freedom, bought at a price greater than rubies.

  2. John Galt says:

    “We had jumped extremely low… and I hit in a hedgerow apple orchard, coming up with very sore bruised ribs.

    I landed on the Pierre Cotelle farm, which was about a mile and half from where I should have landed. After I landed, cleared my parachute and all, I could not join up with my people because of German fire coming from the farm house.

    The firing was quite overwhelming. I was alone. I had no idea where the hell I was other than being in France.”
    - Zane Schlemmer US 82nd Airborne Division

    “I looked at my watch and it was 12:30. When I got into the doorway, I looked out into what looked like a solid wall of tracer bullets.

    I said to myself, ‘Len, you’re in as much trouble now as you’re ever going to be in. If you get out of this, nobody can ever do anything to you that you ever have to worry about!’”
    - Pvt. Leonard Griffing, US 101st Airborne Division

    “It was a weird feeling, to hear those heavy shells go overhead. Some of the guys were seasick. Others, like myself, just stood there, thinking and shivering. There was a fine rain and a spray, and the boat was beginning to ship water. Still, there was no return fire from the beach, which gave us hope that the navy and the air force had done a good job. This hope died 400 yards from shore. The Germans began firing mortars and artillery.”
    - Sgt. Harry Bare, 116th Infantry Regiment

    “Invaded Normandy; left Portsmouth 10.30″
    - General Bernard Montgomery – Diary entry for June 6th 1944 (D-Day)

    “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.”
    - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Around noon on June 5, Eisenhower sat at a portable table and wrote a note accepting personal responsibility for the invasion in the event that it failed. He placed the note inside his wallet. Pressure or fatigue led him to misdate it “July 5.”

    “”Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone”
    - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

    D-DAY: JUNE 6, 1944 – US National WW2 Archives, New Orleans

    D-Day – Imperial War Museum, London

  3. Jackart says:

    I simply don’t understand the contempt so many have for the modern UK.

  4. John Galt says:

    I simply don’t understand the contempt so many have for the modern UK.

    Possibly because many people don’t know our history and how we have been a bastion of liberty and freedom down the ages. This is why the EU and especially the French are attempting to subsume us within their European empire. After we are gone, who will take our place?

    To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.

    Tacitus quoting rebel chieftain Calgacus at the Battle of Mons Graupius 83AD, from Agricola 29-38

  5. Jobrag says:

    I think that he would be proud today to have defended a country that now is largely tolerant, tries to protect the most vulnerable and occasionally does the right thing for foreigners to whom we owe no duty. He might have looked askance when homosexual acts were decriminalised in the sixties, but now after fifty years noticed that they are not “doing it in the streets” and shrugged his shoulders, he probably worried that having black neighbours would affect the value of his property but now would happily see a black GP, I hope that he would be bright enough to realise that in an interconnected world some loss of sovereignty is inevitable but is a price worth paying if it means that young men never again have to perform the feats that he and his generation performed. His father and grandfather probably wrote of their descendants as not being able to perform the feats of arms that they did in the trenches, don’t write off his grandsons and great grandsons generation.

  6. John Galt says:

    …some loss of sovereignty is inevitable but is a price worth paying if it means that young men never again have to perform the feats that he and his generation performed.

    It is NATO that has prevented the tanks from rolling across Europe since 1945, for which the loss of sovereignty was minimal and necessary. The EU has got bugger all to do with it despite its claims to the contrary.

  7. Jobrag says:

    It’s not just the EU, the UN, WTO, ISO, ECHR, if we try to join the EEA we have to concede nearly as much as we do staying in the EU, the only way we “get our country back” is by copying North Korea, not a great roll model.

  8. John Galt says:

    Go flog your pro-EU, pro-World Government bullshit somewhere else Jobrag. I gave at the office.

    Today we’re celebrating escape from tyranny, not getting into bed with the buggers.

  9. Laird says:

    Great essay, RAB. Thanks.

  10. RAB says:

    You’re welcome, Laird my friend.

    Jobrag… Way too many assumptions as to what Britain was like in the past. But this is to be expected from Statist Socialists like you, innit? ;-)

    My father in law died in 1991 not 1961. He was comfortable in his sexuality (got through 3 wives and about five mistresses) and like all the folks who visit this site, had no problem with Gays. There were plenty in the Army and they were all as keen as him to fight and, if necessary, die for freedom, their own and other people’s. Death is an equal opportunity employer, after all, isn’t it?

    He had no problem with foreigners either. He was the son of a Jew whose family had fled the Russian Pogroms and fetched up in Pontypridd in the early 1900′s. The South Wales Valleys were like the Klondike back then, because of coal being discovered in large quantities, the population went from hundreds to hundreds of thousands overnight. And they came from all over. It was the richest place in the world for a while. The quality of the coal was such that 3/4 of the world’s navies ran on it.

    There was a very large Italian community. There were around 500 cafes throughout the Valleys, and all of them were owned by Italians. Generically known as “Braccies” after the largest of the families. So us lucky Welsh had the best ice-cream, coffee, pastries and pasta when the rest of Britain thought that Spaghetti came in tins labeled Heinz.

    They integrated well too. My classmates had names like… Iwan Spinelli and Vincenzo Jenkins. And we all called ourselves WELSH.

    What my father in law would have bridled against, is 3 million immigrants in a decade, just like the rest of us. Too many too fast, nothing to do with their race or colour. And there is a certain section (no names no pack drill, but we know who they are) that have no intention of integrating at all. They never have anywhere else, and they are not about to start now.

    As for the EU, the UN, WTO, ISO, ECHR etc etc, they have no reason to exist in my book. They are just leaches on the body politic, and I want each and every one of them GONE!

  11. Julie near Chicago says:

    RAB, a wonderful essay and another in your comment. I had chills reading them, and a bit of a choked-up feeling. And thank you for the info on the Wales of that time.

    JG, thank you for your additions, and for including the quotes and the documents.

    Among Zanzibar’s best.

  12. Mr Ed says:

    Eisenhower’s leaflet has a “Marxist” tone to it, all very sonorous and ‘classless’. Why not start it ‘Gentlemen’?

    I tend to regard WW2 for the UK as a Labour takeover, with spiteful class war as 100,000 Hodges (the petty Air Raid Warden of Dad’s Army) were unleashed to harangue the populace, iron railings ripped up simply to show that they could, and all the best country houses were commandeered for the State, no matter how obvious they were as targets. Whilst Churchill made the speeches, Labour made the plans, with one ear cocked to Stalin.

  13. GildasTheMonk says:

    Great piece, well said. I suspect that if many of the young men who risked or gave all had known what the political elite would do to the country afterwards they would have turned round and sorted a few things out before going back.

  14. RAB says:

    And just to sum up the spirit of the great men we are honouring… you just don’t tell a D Day veteran that he can’t go to the party, do you?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2650882/D-Day-veteran-89-reported-missing-care-home-staff-told-travel-France-Normandy-escaping-joining-friends.html

  15. Bill Sticker says:

    My Dad was there. Ordinary seaman (Signals) Juno beach 2nd wave on an LST(Landing ship tank). Just one of the cast of thousands, but he always spoke of D-Day with fondness.

  16. John Galt says:

    Eisenhower’s leaflet has a “Marxist” tone to it, all very sonorous and ‘classless’. Why not start it ‘Gentlemen’?

    Quite true, but this was a period between the old world and the new where class was still the most obvious division between men, certainly in the British Army, officers tended to come from the upper classes and upper middle-classes; non-commissioned officers from the middle-classes and rank-and-file soldiers from the working classes.

    The Americans were more meriticratic, but generally the same divisions applied, with the additional distinction between blacks and whites as segregation remained in force during World War II.

    So for myself, the letter is clearly an artefact of its time, targeted at the proletarian rank-and-file and their non-commissioned officers. If it had been targeted at officers then it would probably have been headed “Dear Gentlemen,”.

    Your modern, simple courtesy would have been deemed inappropriate in a time when both class and social etiquette were considered the glue that kept society together and more importantly in their eyes, in their place.

    Autre temps, autre monde

  17. John Galt says:

    My Dad was there. Ordinary seaman (Signals) Juno beach 2nd wave on an LST(Landing ship tank). Just one of the cast of thousands, but he always spoke of D-Day with fondness.

    Unfortunately my family missed out on D-Day as my father was only 11 at the time, my paternal grandfather was too old and crippled (having lost most of his calf to German machine gun fire in WWI) and my maternal grandfather was in an Italian prisoner of war camp, having been captured in North Africa in 1942.

    Still, what service could be given, was given.

  18. NickM says:

    JG, the Americans may have been more classless (whatever that means) but they still had an apartheid military. That didn’t end ’till Truman. I have a P-51D to build and I looked up the tailcode and it had belonged to the Red-tails. I assume you know. I shall build it with great care. I haven’t done anything like that for 25 years.

  19. RAB says:

    Ah yes, American Apartheid Military… Let me Max Bygraves you all here for a minute.

    Two of my parents best friends were Detective Chief Superintendent David Morris and his wife Terry. He was Head of South Wales CID and should have been Chief Constable by rights, but refused point blank to do the rolled up trouser leg and the funny handshake, so that put him out of the running. But in 1944 he was a Sergeant in the Cardiff Police, and he told me this story about that time…

    His station got a missing person report, a young Welsh girl about 16 had gone missing, feared abducted, raped murdered etc. In 1944 the whole of Britain had turned into Airstrip 1 and was full of American troops preparing for D Day. They were camped out all over the place, and yes there were Black troops too, only allowed auxiliary roles not front line ones, but nevertheless a lot of them.

    Well even the Black troops got days off and 24 hours leave, and these strapping lads from Alabama and Mississippi etc could hardly believe that when they went to a pub for a drink, they were not segregated. In fact they were welcomed. The first time they had been treated like ordinary human beings in their lives. “But we’re Black!” they protested. “This is a Coal mining place Boyo, we all look like you when we come up from the pit. Sit down and have a pint…”

    But the American Military did not like this at all, especially the Military Police, they used to find out where Black American soldiers liked to drink, raid them, drag all the Blacks out and beat the shit out of them. All totally illegal of course, but they defied the Welsh Police to do anything about it.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself… back to the missing girl.

    David made inquiries among the girls friends and found that she was absolutely infatuated with these exotic Black fellas the like she’d never seen before, and had gone off with one of them. To cut a long story a bit shorter, he found her having a wonderful time in a tent with said Black fella, where they were billeted next to Maindy Barracks. Well David thought “all’s well that ends well” the girl’s safe, no harm done, all completely consensual… Sorted. Oh no it wasn’t.

    The next thing David hears is that the Black American soldier had been Court Martialed for Rape of a White woman… note not just rape, but of a WHITE woman, and had been executed! He was outraged, couldn’t believe it, but there was nothing he could do about it obviously.

    A few months later his station got a call to say it was all kicking off in a pub down Tiger Bay. The American Military Police had gone in mob handed swinging their billy clubs as usual, but were encountering a bit of resistance, send Police backup immediately. “Right you Racist cunts!” thought David. “Let’s see how you like it!” He deliberately delayed his response for 2 hours. And when he and five Constables finally turned up at the pub, they found the American MP’s being loaded into ambulances. The whole of the pub had come to the defence of of the Black GI’s, and beaten seven shades of shit out of the white MP’s. David told me that the American MP’s never tried to pull that stroke again.

  20. John Galt says:

    On the matter of WW2, I’ve just landed a contract in Nijmegen, Holland, so should be there for the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of operation “Market Garden” in September.

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