And do I see any sign in the press that, sixty-seven years ago today, the greatest sea-borne invasion in history took place on the beaches of Normandy, beginning the end of the Great Patriotic War, excuse me, World War Two? I see that Hugh Bonneville is up for the Gentleman’s Club role, whatever the hell that may be, that Bob Geldoff has been rocking them in the aisles with his tales of love, that Wayne Rooney has had a hair transplant…
It is worth remembering that on 6th June 1940 the evacuation from Dunkirk of the BEF had finished two days earlier, with the bulk of their equipment being left on the beaches behind them. On D-Day, 6th June 1944, only 4 years later, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. (American forces – 73,000.) on 6th June 1940 Ninety-five per cent of these soldiers had been civilians with no military training, experience or even any great desire to be soldiers.
11,590 aircraft were available to support the landings. On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties. All of these aircraft had been built in less than four years. Ninety per cent of their pilots had never flown in an airplane, much less piloted one, before Dunkirk and ninety-five per cent of the mechanics and other ground support personnel who maintained their engines and other systems had never set foot on an airfield.
Operation Neptune, the naval support operation for the Overlord landings, involved huge naval forces, including 6939 vessels: 1213 naval combat ships, 4126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. Some 195,700 personnel were assigned to Operation Neptune – 112,824 of these were British, Nearly two thirds of the ships were from the Royal Navy. 70 something % of those ships had been built since June 1940. Ninety percent of the seamen and eighty per cent of the officers manning those vessels of war had never crewed more than a rowboat before June 1940.
A pipeline was laid under the ocean to carry fuel and lubricants to the allied forces. Two pre-fabricated harbors had been designed, built and towed through one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world and installed on the Channel coast of France while under enemy fire.
All of this, and more, done in four years. All of it done without electronic computers. All of it done without fax machines, without cell phones, without voice mail, all of it done with manual typewriters and mechanical calculators and reams of paper and legions of men and women filing and stamping and checking and rechecking and working as if their lives depended on it. As if!
Also in today’s newspaper we learn that we are to share an aircraft carrier with France.
All I can say is; 2 Samuel 1:27 King James Version, and remind myself that despair is a sin, as well as being extremely bad tactics.