On Friday 6th June 2014, many people will be remembering the events of 70 years earlier, when the allied forces landed on the coast of Normandy, opening the much-anticipated second front.
There are many events being staged to mark the anniversary. Including a live concert on Radio 2 at the Royal Albert Hall which will document the events, along with live music. For more information on this visit the BBC website.
But I wanted to get a more personal view of what happened, and speak to someone who remembered it. Today I spoke with Mr G, one of our clients who remembers 6th June 1944. 15 at the time, he was at the 6th form of his grammar school.
“I remember the Head Teacher sent the caretaker around to each class with a statement he had taken from the news. Each of the teachers read it out to their class.” The statement was stark and to the point, armed forces from the British, Canadian and American forces landed on the beach at Normandy. But according to Mr G, everyone felt excited. “The idea of a second front had been mooted for two years, but nobody knew when or where.”
There was to be no celebrating though. This was just the beginning of the end of the war. There was still a lot to do. It meant though that things were changing and an end was at least in sight.
“The celebrating came later, in May 1945 on what was to be victory in Europe day. I remember walking around the street parties with my cousin.”
Mr G himself later went on to join the RAF for 2 years.
“I wanted to be a teacher so had to apply for deferment of my conscription so I could go to college to train. When I finished in 1948 Wartime regulations were still in place and I had to go to a job knowing I could be called up any time. My first job lasted just 5 weeks.”
Less than 6 months after he was called up, in January 1949 conscription was abolished and National Service was introduced. When he left the RAF in 1950 Mr G went back to teaching English and History. He was a teacher the rest of his working life.
Whilst the big story needs to be told, these individual personal accounts of our history really bring it alive. So to commemorate 70 years since D-Day why not talk to someone you know about their experience?