Friday, 6 June 2014

D Day - 70 years on

D Day, the day on which the Normandy landings ("Project Neptune") commenced,  occurred on 6 June 1944, seventy years ago.  As is well known, this was the largest ever seaborne landing.

I don't underrate the historical significance nor the challenging logistics of the operation, but I do think the extent of Australia's participation in it needs to be kept in perspective:  there were about 3000 Australians involved.

The context,  as Wikipedia tells us,  is that 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June and presumably there were many more involved with the air and naval support (I see that most of the Australians were in these areas).

I do find it interesting how particular historical events are commemorated, and others are hardly mentioned.   Perhaps it's understandable that we don't hear much about one of the great turning points in the war, the Battle of Stalingrad, but there are probably other events that also remain in the background (the Battle of El Alamein comes to mind).  Presumably,  an element of selectivity is inevitable when thinking about historical matters, but it is interesting to reflect on how the "selection" process operates.

1 comment:

  1. The Australian battle profile for 1939-45 seems lower profile than for 1914-18. Is this perhaps because in the second war we lacked outstanding Australian hero generals? I looked up the list of general staff in the period, and found I knew something about the war reputation of only two- Bennett and Blamey. Regrettably what I know is negative about both, though the latter got his field marshal's baton after the war.
    Our host for our visit to Normandy was disappointed that our battlefield priority visit was to the Bayeux tapestry, commemorating a somewhat earlier campaign, though we partly regained respect on visiting a battleground in Mortain, scene of a USA redoubt held against superior numbers. When in France I am mostly moved by the monuments everywhere of French civil resistance, of which I was recently reminded again by watching a French movie on SBS, "The Army of Crime".