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#1 kayemod

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 11:17

Although not much to do with motor racing nostalgia, we have oft visited TNF threads on Spitfires & Lancasters etc, but it's surely a little surprising that no-one as far as I can see, has made any mention of what most of the free World is commemorating today. I passed through Normandy two weeks ago, and I'm always impressed by how big an annual event June 6th is over there, British, Canadian and US flags & bunting everywhere, coachloads of visitors including schoolchildren at all the notable sites, and surprising numbers of WW2 vehicles like Jeeps scurrying around the roads. We've visited most of the cemeteries, memorials, museums and other significant places over the years, wife & I were both born some years after all the unpleasantness ended, but the events of 1944 still mean a great deal to us, and very many others. This time we visited a site we hadn't been to before, Point du Hoc not far from Bayeux. This was the site of a heroic attack by American Rangers on gun emplacements atop high cliffs, which meant climbing from the beach using ropes and ladders, but they were ultimately successful, though a large proportion were killed in the hand to hand fighting. The extensive site is well laid out with a visitors' centre, car parks & paths, and lots of explanatory notices, but what impressed us most was the attendance, 70 years after the event, on a late May weekday with scattered thunderstorms, the place was packed, and I don't think I've ever seen so many Americans in a single place at one time before, almost all serious and respectful, and impressively knowledgeable about what had taken place there all those years ago.

 

All in all, a moving experience that will stay in my memory for a long time.


Edited by kayemod, 06 June 2014 - 14:45.


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#2 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 13:31

I have visited the beaches when I have been early for a ferry at Ouistreham and even 20+ years ago there was a lot to see.

There, and elsewhere in France, the major evidence of what happened are the cemeteries which, even if one lost nobody close in either conflict, are hard to cope with - particularly when you see how young most of them were.

It is all a long time ago and partly because of security, but mainly because I was pretty young at the time, I remember nothing of D Day itself of course. I do remember strange amphibious vehicles playing on North Devon beaches and one of our woods (in mid-Devon) was taken over by a bit of the US Army and I now know they were both part of the build-up to the invasion of Normandy.

What also has to be remembered is that D Day was nearly a year and a lot of serious fighting before VE Day.



#3 Dipster

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 14:11

Obviously I, as a baby boomer, can only feel gratitude to those who fought (on the right side of course) in WW2. I have lived a life untouched by conflict. Thus I feel a little saddened that D-Day is well remembered but many others - those fighting the Japanese, those in Bomber Command, the men of the Merchant Navy etc., seem almost forgotten. That cannot be right, can it?

 

On the subject of war graves I used to visit the CWG site in Gaza regularly. One often saw local families picnicing there as it was such a lovely, green, well-tended (by 3 generations of the same family) place.  I am sure those buried there would be happy to think of families trying to live a normal life enjoying themselves, finding a little pleasure away from their normally difficult lives.



#4 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 14:56

This is a special day. Thank you for these great stories.



#5 Alan Cox

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 15:26

It has been very moving listening to the memories of many D-Day veterans who have been interviewed on radio and television this week. Countless stories that cannot fail to make an impression, and I found it encouraging to see quite how many of those in their 10th decade were able to make it to Normandy this year to honour their comrades.

And an especial 'Thank you' to all the magnificent men and women of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintain such high standards in looking after the 23,000 cemeteries and memorials, great and small, scattered throughout the world.



#6 Sharman

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 15:58

Alan Cox, on 06 Jun 2014 - 17:26, said:

 

And an especial 'Thank you' to all the magnificent men and women of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who maintain such high standards in looking after the 23,000 cemeteries and memorials, great and small, scattered throughout the world.

Hear Hear to that Alan. As an extra moving moment, if anybody has a chance to visit Beaumont Hamel on Armistice Day do take it. War cemeteries move me at the best of times but there, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is especially emotional.



#7 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 19:34

A friend of mine who is a full-time Normandy battlefield guide has been unimpressed by the number of US visitors whose notion of what went on appear to have been shaped entirely by seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' - and what particularly lights his fuse is this clientele's absolute astonishment when he describes how British, Canadian, Free French, Polish and so many other nations forces also landed across the beaches...  The stupendous size and scope of that action, and of the Normandy Campaign which followed never fails to impress me.  The logistical planning alone was an enormous challenge, well met.  

 

Every schoolchild should see, and take note.

 

DCN



#8 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 20:05

With Pete Lyons’ permission, I post here his entry earlier today on facebook:

 

D-Day Hero: Seventy years ago today, on the 6th of June, 1944, hours before dawn, a 19-year-old Missourian paratrooper of the US Army's elite Pathfinder unit jumped from a plane 15 miles behind the enemy-held beaches of France to help prepare for the Allied invasion of Normandy. Wounded by an artillery shell, he woke up back on the beach in a medical tent, where a second exploding shell sent shrapnell into his legs. Months later, recovered, he rejoined his 101st Airborne Division and fought in Holland and Belgium's Battle of the Bulge — where he again was hit, this time by several rounds from a machine pistol which impacted the explosives-packed vest he was wearing without setting them off. This was the kind of man who, many years and adventures later, founded the innovative, elegant and, yes, mysterious Shadow Cars racing team. But today, let us simply thank Don Nichols for his service in the liberation of Europe.



#9 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 20:18

Worth remembering Major Rolt too today, awarded a MC for his heroism 70 years ago.



#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 20:26

Worth remembering Major Rolt too today, awarded a MC for his heroism 70 years ago.

Major Rolt's MC was for actions during the defence of Calais in 1940. He received a bar to the decoration for services rendered as a prisoner of war.



#11 Mallory Dan

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 20:36

I'm not by any means a sensitive chap, but had a big 'Throat Lump' moment this morning listening to R5Dead and the testimonies of sons and daughters of those involved. Was truly humbled, and put into perspective. Even Paddy Ashdown went up in my estimation.



#12 RS2000

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 22:07

I used to live a short walk from the site of one of the final assembly camps in Dorset for US forces headed for Omaha beach. This included 16 Regiment of 1st US Inf. Division, that led the left hand of the initial assault (who's Col. Taylor was played by Robert Mitchum in the film "The Longest Day", using his actual words about getting off the beach).

Shortly before I moved away, a Parish Council meeting was discussing why we didn't see the numbers of returning US veterans that a lot of other villages did.

So I explained why.....



#13 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 22:14

Good interview of General Sir Mike Jackson on BBC2 Newsnight this evening did a lot to wipe out my irritation with the programme before, where the events of 70 years ago were described in the "historic present" so beloved of young quasi-historians today.



#14 DogEarred

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 06:45

  

 

Every schoolchild should see, and take note.

 

DCN

 

I recently saw, in an IMax theatre in the USA, a one hour documentary called D-Day Normandy 1944.

Voiced over by Tom Brokaw, it's a mixture of film, GCI, animation & photos. Presented in a clear, non-jingoistic & appropriate way. I remember saying at the time that it should be shown to all schoolchildren. To be recommended.

 

I visited the Bayeux British cemetery a few years ago. (Contained many nationalities, including Germans, if I recall.) It wasn't obvious where I could park, so I ended up parking in a country back road alongside the cemetery. As I got out of my UK number plated car, a local old Frenchman drove past in his battered Citroen Jalopy, just nodded & gave me a thumbs up sign. Said a lot.



#15 fer312t

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 08:29

A friend of mine who is a full-time Normandy battlefield guide has been unimpressed by the number of US visitors whose notion of what went on appear to have been shaped entirely by seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' - and what particularly lights his fuse is this clientele's absolute astonishment when he describes how British, Canadian, Free French, Polish and so many other nations forces also landed across the beaches...

 

 

groan....because we of course can't have a D-Day thread without some 'Ugly Americans' popping in somewhere in some capacity...



#16 nicanary

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 09:10

A friend of mine who is a full-time Normandy battlefield guide has been unimpressed by the number of US visitors whose notion of what went on appear to have been shaped entirely by seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' - and what particularly lights his fuse is this clientele's absolute astonishment when he describes how British, Canadian, Free French, Polish and so many other nations forces also landed across the beaches...  The stupendous size and scope of that action, and of the Normandy Campaign which followed never fails to impress me.  The logistical planning alone was an enormous challenge, well met.  

 

Every schoolchild should see, and take note.

 

DCN

The logistical planning has always interested me. We hear so much about the "decoy army", the innovations and "funnies", the weather forecasting, and so on, but behind all that was a team working on the most complex military logistics seen in history.

 

Nobody ever seems to get credit for that. Somebody must have been in charge of it all. There are those who also serve.........



#17 Dipster

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 09:30

The logistical planning has always interested me. We hear so much about the "decoy army", the innovations and "funnies", the weather forecasting, and so on, but behind all that was a team working on the most complex military logistics seen in history.

 

Nobody ever seems to get credit for that. Somebody must have been in charge of it all. There are those who also serve.........

And they managed to keep it secret too. A remarkable achievement.



#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 10:12

groan....because we of course can't have a D-Day thread without some 'Ugly Americans' popping in somewhere in some capacity...

I see no 'ugly Americans'. Just fair comment, based upon personal experience, about 'uninformed (or misinformed) Americans'.

 

Nobody in Europe would deny the enormous contribution the US forces made to D-Day and the liberation of the continent. The problem we have with it is the way it's presented in the United States - especially by Hollywood: watch 'Saving Private Ryan' and you'd be forgiven for thinking that only US forces were involved. Even 'The Longest Day', although it rightly acknowledges the British and Free French actions on D-Day (but not, for some reason, the Canadians) took a more US-centric line than Cornelius Ryan's original book.



#19 nicanary

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 10:24

I see no 'ugly Americans'. Just fair comment, based upon personal experience, about 'uninformed (or misinformed) Americans'.

 

Nobody in Europe would deny the enormous contribution the US forces made to D-Day and the liberation of the continent. The problem we have with it is the way it's presented in the United States - especially by Hollywood: watch 'Saving Private Ryan' and you'd be forgiven for thinking that only US forces were involved. Even 'The Longest Day', although it rightly acknowledges the British and Free French actions on D-Day (but not, for some reason, the Canadians) took a more US-centric line than Cornelius Ryan's original book.

He who pays the piper........



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#20 kayemod

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 10:42

I see no 'ugly Americans'. Just fair comment, based upon personal experience, about 'uninformed (or misinformed) Americans'.

 

Nobody in Europe would deny the enormous contribution the US forces made to D-Day and the liberation of the continent. The problem we have with it is the way it's presented in the United States - especially by Hollywood:

 

Of course, the real key to the successful outcome of D Day was the contribution of Matthew McConaughey and others in grabbing that Enigma machine from U-571, and getting it to Bletchley Park to replace the one they'd been using for a couple of years, that was an immeasurable boost to Allied intelligence.

 

The film's tagline was "Nine men about to change history". They certainly got that bit right.



#21 Slurp1955

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 11:03

A friend of mine who is a full-time Normandy battlefield guide has been unimpressed by the number of US visitors whose notion of what went on appear to have been shaped entirely by seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' - and what particularly lights his fuse is this clientele's absolute astonishment when he describes how British, Canadian, Free French, Polish and so many other nations forces also landed across the beaches...  The stupendous size and scope of that action, and of the Normandy Campaign which followed never fails to impress me.  The logistical planning alone was an enormous challenge, well met.  
 
Every schoolchild should see, and take note.
 
DCN

I think the Americans should get full credit for the 1942-45 war, particularly Sam from "Cheers" liberating Normandy in "Saving Private Ryan". The best war film about the European campaigns is Elim Klimov's "Come And See", set in Belarus in 1943. This should be on the school curriculum too, to add some balance to the endless western-centric reporting we have served up. One silly woman working for the BBC on the Normandy beaches yesterday actually said "...of course we weren't fighting the Germans, we were fighting the Nazis". JohnP

#22 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 11:18

I recently saw, in an IMax theatre in the USA, a one hour documentary called D-Day Normandy 1944.

Voiced over by Tom Brokaw, it's a mixture of film, GCI, animation & photos. Presented in a clear, non-jingoistic & appropriate way. I remember saying at the time that it should be shown to all schoolchildren. To be recommended.

.

Trailer:

 

 

It's actually made by a French company: http://en.dday-norma...ter/home-2.html However, if you look at the 'Find a theater' [sic] link it appears to be showing only in France, USA, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Singapore.



#23 Siddley

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 12:05

Thanks to the OP for starting this thread, it's a subject close to my heart - my dad fought with the Allied 1st Army, although being a member of a Royal Artillery regiment equipped with long range guns he didn't land in France until the 7th,



#24 Glengavel

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 12:26

I think the Americans should get full credit for the 1942-45 war, particularly Sam from "Cheers" liberating Normandy in "Saving Private Ryan". The best war film about the European campaigns is Elim Klimov's "Come And See", set in Belarus in 1943. This should be on the school curriculum too, to add some balance to the endless western-centric reporting we have served up. One silly woman working for the BBC on the Normandy beaches yesterday actually said "...of course we weren't fighting the Germans, we were fighting the Nazis". JohnP

 

And Sam from Cheers gets in the only reference to British troops in the whole film - a snarky comment about Montgomery's lack of progress. It  just seems shoehorned in for no good reason. My other pet hates for the film are the book-ends with the old man (won't spoil it) stumbling and weeping round the cemetery, the comic-opera Nazi and Ryan being told "earn this".

 

Sorry to go so OT.



#25 Doug Nye

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 18:54

Hmm - on the morning of June 4 this past week I was guiding a group in Battle of the Bulge country, at Baugnez outside Malmedy, Belgium.  Just next door to the field which was the scene of the so-called Malmedy Massacre (of US PoWs by members of the German Kampfgruppe Peiper) stands the Baugnez 44 Museum. Covering the campaign at large, it has some stupendous exhibits, brilliantly well displayed.  However, I advised my group not to watch the movie they run there, because it is so skewed as a really awful and outdated piece of anti-Hun propaganda.

 

The day after the Baugnez tragedy, the Chenogne Massacre took place (of German PoWs by members of the US forces).  But the victors usually have the say-so on how history is initially recorded - and Chenogne was conveniently ignored.

 

As for "He who pays the piper" - my country finally paid off the piper's bill (plus interest) a few years ago, but we are all rightly grateful there was a piper willing to come in and play at all - well, who joined in for the second half...  

 

As we admit to our American groups, the Old World has been darned good at starting wars, fortunately through the 20th Century the US proved even better at finishing them.

 

:cool:

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 07 June 2014 - 19:17.


#26 PCC

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 20:10

(but not, for some reason, the Canadians)

Well, we pretty much got left out of Argo as well. We're used to it.



#27 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 02:33

On D Day I walked to school in Upminster, Essex, with my eyes looking into the sky as an air Armada passed over.  We knew this was coming, the sidings of our local railway station had been full of trains loaded with every kind of mobile weapon and vehicle for days.  My father was in the local Home Guard office, and he seemed to know what was going on.  On the 5th he said that the operation was delayed 24 hours due to the weather, and sure enough it was obvious on the morning of the 6th that it was happening.  The Essex County record office has released an operational plan for south Essex showing all of the routes, to be used,, where to park etc.  The Southend Arterial Road had one carriageway marked for parking.  I have tried to copy the link but have had no luck.

 

The Seattlel PBS station has been showing a program about an archeological expedition to find the wrecks of ships and equipment off of the Normandy beaches, but with it was a lot of other information that I didn't know.  I felt for the Head of the Metrological station who was doing the weather forecasting.  It was he who  identified a six hour window that could be used and really it was his decision, not Eisenhower's.  Eisenhower really had no options.  It was follow the advice or cancel.

 

One interesting tit bit was that the Americans used a 35 minute bombardment, but the Brits had a two hour bombardments.  The Americans had a terrible time with their landing.  Perhaps the Brits were right!



#28 Gary Davies

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 03:25

...watch 'Saving Private Ryan' and you'd be forgiven for thinking that only US forces were involved.


Well perhaps not. Unlike such films as The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan was not a film about the D-Day landings. It was a fictional account of a cadre of US soldiers tasked with finding and repatriating a soldier whose two brothers had recently been killed in action. The landings were the backdrop, not the core of the story. Since the story centred on the events surrounding Captain Miller’s (Tom Hanks) little unit, it would be surprising to find British troops on Omaha Beach or the immediate hinterland.

As to another poster’s snarky comment about the snarky comment in the film about Montgomery, he should know that snarky comments about Montgomery were not uncommon in the US Army. Not to mention the British Army! And Navy! And Air Force!

From the Sicily landings onwards, perhaps before Operation Torch was completed, his way of operating became serious gravel in the underpants of our Great American Allies.

The comment references the lack of awareness (or appreciation) of Monty’s strategy amongst many in the US military in planning Overlord in which he saw the ‘tough nut’ of Caen as being the ‘hinge’ that the British and Canadians would deal with, allowing the more westerly American forces to make faster progress through more open country south and east towards the Seine.

I am an enormous fan of Monty but it would be only the most uncritical disciple of the Field-Marshal who would be surprised to discover his almost unparalleled ability to divide opinion.

So yes, the ‘snarky comment’ had great historical relevance in its context.

Edited by Gary Davies, 08 June 2014 - 06:58.


#29 john aston

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 06:13

A friend of mine who is a full-time Normandy battlefield guide has been unimpressed by the number of US visitors whose notion of what went on appear to have been shaped entirely by seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' - and what particularly lights his fuse is this clientele's absolute astonishment when he describes how British, Canadian, Free French, Polish and so many other nations forces also landed across the beaches...  The stupendous size and scope of that action, and of the Normandy Campaign which followed never fails to impress me.  The logistical planning alone was an enormous challenge, well met.  

 

Every schoolchild should see, and take note.

 

DCN

 Doug - I couldn't agree more; but equally as a nation we shouldn't fall victim to our own mythology. As a teenager in the 60s the role of the Russians was hardly mentioned at all in any  account of WW2 because,I suppose. they were the enemy at the time . I read a fascinating piece by the estimable  Max Hastings in The Times the other day when he reminded his readership that 92% of all German soldiers killed in WW2 were killed by the Russians.

 

I have known several people who were at D Day and their memories were fascinating and horrifying in equal measure .   



#30 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:45

 

Well perhaps not. Unlike such films as The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan was not a film about the D-Day landings. It was a fictional account of a cadre of US soldiers tasked with finding and repatriating a soldier whose two brothers had recently been killed in action. The landings were the backdrop, not the core of the story. Since the story centred on the events surrounded Captain Miller’s (Tom Hanks) little unit, it would be surprising to find British troops on Omaha Beach or the immediate hinterland.

 

As to another poster’s snarky comment about the snarky comment in the film about Montgomery, he should know that snarky comments about Montgomery were not uncommon in the US Army. Not to mention the British Army! And Navy! And Air Force!

 

From the Sicily landings onwards, perhaps before Operation Torch was completed, his way of operating became serious gravel in the underpants of our Great American Allies.

 

The comment references the lack of awareness (or appreciation) of Monty’s strategy amongst many in the US military in planning Overlord in which he saw the ‘tough nut’ of Caen as being the ‘hinge’ that the British and Canadians would deal with, allowing the more westerly American forces to make faster progress through more open country south and east towards the Seine.

 

I am an enormous fan of Monty but it would be only the most uncritical disciple of the Field-Marshal who would be surprised to discover his almost unparalleled ability to divide opinion.

 

So yes, the ‘snarky comment’ had great historical relevance in its context.

 

All fair comment, Gary. But in respect of 'Saving Private Ryan', I'd refer you to this, which appeared in The Guardian and seems to me to be a fairly accurate representation of how D-Day is viewed west of the big pond. Note that it's from their US film critic, based in New York:  D-day landings on film: Hollywood's best second world war tributes. The concentration - in both 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'The Longest Day' (both of which I've rewatched recently) - is very much on the 'bloody Omaha' narrative. BBC's 'Timewatch' even made a programme with that very title back in 2008. Yes - of course 'SPR' is fiction, but as Doug pointed out it seems it - and thus the Omaha landings - now dominate the narrative to the exclusion of almost everything else.

 

Most of the biggest American stars - Eddie Albert, Robert Mitchum, Paul Anka, Fabian - were in the Omaha sequences of 'TLD'. John Wayne got to play a tough para colonel, yet apart from the quite justified - and very well done - coverage of the seizure of Pegasus Bridge the British paras are almost comic characters: Richard Wattis as a 'toff officer' who lands in the wrong place (essentially reprising his part in 'The Colditz Story' and any of half a hundred other roles - he could probably have phoned it in) and John Gregson as the padre diving for his communion set.

 

Admittedly Omaha was bloody, but so was Juno. Despite which the Canadians had got further inland than anyone else by D+1. Utah beach hardly gets a mention. Nor do the landings on Sword and Gold - apart from seeing Lord Lovat and his piper Bill Millin. Again we see almost comic British characters: Kenneth More as a 'stiff upper lip' beachmaster complete with bulldog, Sean Connery and Norman Rossington as a couple of chirpy Tommies. Even the RAF pilots are represented as caricatures, typified by the casting of Leslie Phillips (perhaps Terry-Thomas wasn't available?) Donald Houston did a decent job with a small part, but Richard Burton could surely have been better used.

 

With the advent of CGI and an adaptation of gaming technology I'm sure a much better - possibly even interactive - version of 'TLD' could be made today. Not as a 'shoot-em-up' - a genuine 'as it was happening' documentary using Ryan's original book as a jumping-off point and even incorporating other narratives he didn't cover.



#31 Glengavel

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 09:21

Well perhaps not. Unlike such films as The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan was not a film about the D-Day landings. It was a fictional account of a cadre of US soldiers tasked with finding and repatriating a soldier whose two brothers had recently been killed in action. The landings were the backdrop, not the core of the story. Since the story centred on the events surrounding Captain Miller’s (Tom Hanks) little unit, it would be surprising to find British troops on Omaha Beach or the immediate hinterland.

As to another poster’s snarky comment about the snarky comment in the film about Montgomery, he should know that snarky comments about Montgomery were not uncommon in the US Army. Not to mention the British Army! And Navy! And Air Force!

From the Sicily landings onwards, perhaps before Operation Torch was completed, his way of operating became serious gravel in the underpants of our Great American Allies.

The comment references the lack of awareness (or appreciation) of Monty’s strategy amongst many in the US military in planning Overlord in which he saw the ‘tough nut’ of Caen as being the ‘hinge’ that the British and Canadians would deal with, allowing the more westerly American forces to make faster progress through more open country south and east towards the Seine.

I am an enormous fan of Monty but it would be only the most uncritical disciple of the Field-Marshal who would be surprised to discover his almost unparalleled ability to divide opinion.

So yes, the ‘snarky comment’ had great historical relevance in its context.

 

Fair enough, I'm well aware of Monty's reputation. But as you say, Saving Private Ryan was, apart from the opening sequence, nothing to do with D-Day or the aftermath, so the comment about Montgomery seeemed to be shoe-horned in, and comes across as a little mean-spirited.



#32 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 10:29

Monty lived out his life just up the road from Farnham, here, and was a familiar sight in our Post Office every Thursday.  In his lack of self-awareness and his towering conceit he was an extraordinary product of his background, and of his time.  

 

Had he only had the self-aware humility of a General Bill Slim he would have been a bigger man, better remembered, and probably even more effective in period.  But in retrospect his strategies usually succeeded, and his consistent refusal to waste lives in Normandy not only mitigated chronically short British manpower but was appreciated and respected by his men.  The majority of WW2's high-ranking Allied commanders would subsequently be revealed as self-promoting, small-minded, mean-spirited and mendacious - smaller men than one might expect.

 

DCN 



#33 Slurp1955

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 12:03

We had two members of the family fighting in the Second World War. My Great Uncle Horace Bradbury was in the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards Armoured Division, who landed in Normandy after D-day, fought their way through France and were in Namur during the Battle Of The Bulge. Subsequently, they advanced into Holland and were involved in the battle for Lonneker Bridge at Enschede. On April 1st their tank was taken out by German artillery and Horace was killed. The tank Commander was Robert Boscawen, he was badly burned but survived into his nineties and was an MP in Cornwall for many years. He died just last December. The other Bradbury combatant was my Uncle George. He was a Chindit and served under Slim in Burma. And they were called The Forgotten Army. JohnP

#34 Odseybod

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 12:21

Monty lived out his life just up the road from Farnham, here, and was a familiar sight in our Post Office every Thursday.  In his lack of self-awareness and his towering conceit he was an extraordinary product of his background, and of his time.  

 

...

 

DCN 

 

I always liked the story of Monty for some reason being put in charge of a post-war Sunday School lesson. His address to the young 'uns apparently contained: "And Jesus said to his disciples - and in my view he was completely right about this ..."

 

Always good to have Monty's support.



#35 kayemod

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 12:42


Had he only had the self-aware humility of a General Bill Slim he would have been a bigger man, better remembered, and probably even more effective in period.  But in retrospect his strategies usually succeeded, and his consistent refusal to waste lives in Normandy not only mitigated chronically short British manpower but was appreciated and respected by his men.  The majority of WW2's high-ranking Allied commanders would subsequently be revealed as self-promoting, small-minded, mean-spirited and mendacious - smaller men than one might expect.

 

DCN 

 

Very true, and well expressed. My dad was in the Royal Artillery, he met Monty a few times, and said that his bark was much worse than his bite. He knew many who served under him, and almost to a man, they'd rather be led by Bernard M than others who've had a better press. Dad thought that other than Monty, an army made up of German officers and British tommies would have been unbeatable, a few Tiger tanks wouldn't have gone amiss as well, I always think of them as early Audis.



#36 Nick Savage

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 13:00

I always liked the story of Monty for some reason being put in charge of a post-war Sunday School lesson. His address to the young 'uns apparently contained: "And Jesus said to his disciples - and in my view he was completely right about this ..."

 

Always good to have Monty's support.

 

Can't help but agree with both Odsey and DCN's comments : the English authors of the British Official History of the Sicily & Italian campaign (HMSO, 1973) commented : "It was one of Montgomery's unfortunate habits often to advocate and secure sound policies and courses of action in a manner that suggested to others that he was blind to every interest except his own."

 

Given how restrained and moderate the authors of these Official Histories are, this is a very specific and unusual personal criticism, and not wrong either.

Nick



#37 Gary C

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 13:46

My father was in the Eighth Army, was at El Alamein, Tunisia, Sous, then into Italy for Monte Cassino....and couldn't stand Montgomery....one of the very few things he ever told me about his war service.



#38 Tim Murray

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 13:47

In April our motor club had a really interesting talk from (former British Sprint Champion) David Render on his experiences as a tank commander in WW2. He told us about how Monty once started a troop briefing by saying: 'Right, I don't want any coughing or sneezing during this briefing, so I'm giving you one minute to get all that out of the way, then I want complete quiet!', whereupon everyone dutifully coughed and sneezed. We never found out what happened to any poor unfortunate who dared to cough during the actual briefing.

Edited by Tim Murray, 08 June 2014 - 13:49.


#39 Gary Davies

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 05:02

All fair comment, Gary. But in respect of 'Saving Private Ryan', I'd refer you to this, which appeared in The Guardian and seems to me to be a fairly accurate representation of how D-Day is viewed west of the big pond. Note that it's from their US film critic, based in New York:  D-day landings on film: Hollywood's best second world war tributes. The concentration - in both 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'The Longest Day' (both of which I've rewatched recently) - is very much on the 'bloody Omaha' narrative. BBC's 'Timewatch' even made a programme with that very title back in 2008. Yes - of course 'SPR' is fiction, but as Doug pointed out it seems it - and thus the Omaha landings - now dominate the narrative to the exclusion of almost everything else.

 

Most of the biggest American stars - Eddie Albert, Robert Mitchum, Paul Anka, Fabian - were in the Omaha sequences of 'TLD'. John Wayne got to play a tough para colonel, yet apart from the quite justified - and very well done - coverage of the seizure of Pegasus Bridge the British paras are almost comic characters: Richard Wattis as a 'toff officer' who lands in the wrong place (essentially reprising his part in 'The Colditz Story' and any of half a hundred other roles - he could probably have phoned it in) and John Gregson as the padre diving for his communion set.

 

Admittedly Omaha was bloody, but so was Juno. Despite which the Canadians had got further inland than anyone else by D+1. Utah beach hardly gets a mention. Nor do the landings on Sword and Gold - apart from seeing Lord Lovat and his piper Bill Millin. Again we see almost comic British characters: Kenneth More as a 'stiff upper lip' beachmaster complete with bulldog, Sean Connery and Norman Rossington as a couple of chirpy Tommies. Even the RAF pilots are represented as caricatures, typified by the casting of Leslie Phillips (perhaps Terry-Thomas wasn't available?) Donald Houston did a decent job with a small part, but Richard Burton could surely have been better used.

 

With the advent of CGI and an adaptation of gaming technology I'm sure a much better - possibly even interactive - version of 'TLD' could be made today. Not as a 'shoot-em-up' - a genuine 'as it was happening' documentary using Ryan's original book as a jumping-off point and even incorporating other narratives he didn't cover.

Richard, very much agreed in turn! And thank you for the reminiscences about The Longest Day and in particular Hollywood's depiction of the jolly spiffing British types. Over the years and the large number of Hollywood war films you and I would have seen during the 50s, 60s and 70s, one became inured, and perhaps somewhat uncritical of the frequent Colonel Blimp depictions. I do wonder though, whether they might have had a point. I recall my father telling me about a talk the CO gave shortly before embarkation for Gold Beach. "Very shortly," he intoned, "you're going to be meeting The Beastly Hun. And I can't begin to tell you some of the beastly things The Hun has done..." Then there was another senior officer, flamboyantly the first volunteer in the unit, encouraging the men to donate blood before embarkation, with a sleeve rolled up as the poultice wallah inserted the needle, saying in a stentorian voice: "Take as much as you want old chap, but you'll find the first pint will be Draught Bass!"

 

That said, our Great American Allies can be disposed to rewriting history here and there. I was in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum some years ago and was pleased to see a Harrier on display. The descriptive plaque stopped short of saying this was an American invention but it did fail to mention either Hawker or P 1127. In fairness the Smithsonian website does but all the school kids visiting the museum back then could have been excused for concluding that the VTOL fighter-bomber was another invention of the Land of The Free.



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#40 Sharman

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 06:31

Gary Davies, on 10 Jun 2014 - 07:02, said:

Richard, very much agreed in turn! And thank you for the reminiscences about The Longest Day and in particular Hollywood's depiction of the jolly spiffing British types. Over the years and the large number of Hollywood war films you and I would have seen during the 50s, 60s and 70s, one became inured, and perhaps somewhat uncritical of the frequent Colonel Blimp depictions. I do wonder though, whether they might have had a point. I recall my father telling me about a talk the CO gave shortly before embarkation for Gold Beach. "Very shortly," he intoned, "you're going to be meeting The Beastly Hun. And I can't begin to tell you some of the beastly things The Hun has done..." Then there was another senior officer, flamboyantly the first volunteer in the unit, encouraging the men to donate blood before embarkation, with a sleeve rolled up as the poultice wallah inserted the needle, saying in a stentorian voice: "Take as much as you want old chap, but you'll find the first pint will be Draught Bass!"

 

That said, our Great American Allies can be disposed to rewriting history here and there. I was in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum some years ago and was pleased to see a Harrier on display. The descriptive plaque stopped short of saying this was an American invention but it did fail to mention either Hawker or P 1127. In fairness the Smithsonian website does but all the school kids visiting the museum back then could have been excused for concluding that the VTOL fighter-bomber was another invention of the Land of The Free.

Beat all, about 55 years ago I was in Georgia USA and stopped for petrol. The attendant commented on my accent and asked where I was from. I told him England and he said "Gee do they speak English there?" So them of them don't even allow us our language.



#41 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 08:02

Floridan lady taxi driver - "I just laaaaarrrrrvvv your accent.  Don't tell me, ah'm good on accents... You're Australian, right?"

 

Nope.

 

"Oh, OK" ... studying me suspiciously in the mirror ... "Ah goddit, goddit now - you are SWEDISH!  Am ah right?..."

 

She drove me clear across State, Naples to Miami Airport, with literally dozens of alternative nationalities being 'identified'. When I finally explained I'm a Brit she refused to believe me.  I have learned not to argue with women, 'cos you'll never win.

 

So I finally accepted that, OK, I'm Swedish...

 

Bengt Erik Knie



#42 Gary Davies

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 09:11

But I still love 'em! I drove into the car park servicing London Bridge at Lake Havasu City once and stopped by the pay booth, operated by a Lions member. "Good morning," I said in my very best Oxford accent, "I'm from the British Government and I'm following up on a report that you have one of our bridges here."

 

Quick as a wink, "Certainly have, sir, and what's more, you sold us the wrong darn bridge!"

 

(For those who don't know, there was at one time a silly story that Robert McCulloch thought he was buying Tower Bridge. It was only ever a silly story and the smile on the Lions geezer's face confirmed that he's heard the story too.)



#43 BRG

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 11:07

Floridan lady taxi driver - "I just laaaaarrrrrvvv your accent.  Don't tell me, ah'm good on accents... You're Australian, right?"

An easy mistake.  The Farnham burr is often mistaken for Aussie.

 

I had to forcibly dissuade one chap in the US that I was South African.  Eventually I settled for telling people over there that I was from Boston, which seemed to satisfy them (except in Boston naturally).  Surely Hollywood trots out enough British film villains that they should recognise our manner of speech?



#44 Glengavel

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 12:07

Occasionally, when on holiday sur le continent, and essaying some mangled schoolboy French, or evening class Italian, or even my native Scots-accented English, I've been perceived to be German or Dutch.

 



#45 kayemod

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 12:31

Occasionally, when on holiday sur le continent, and essaying some mangled schoolboy French, or evening class Italian, or even my native Scots-accented English, I've been perceived to be German or Dutch.

 

A few years ago, wife & I were mooching around in southern Bavaria. We found a suitable hotel almost on the Swiss border, it seemed OK so we decided to stay. I speak fairly good German so no communication problem, but the guy in reception who I later found out was the owner seemed somewhat unfriendly. The room was fine, and we had an excellent meal in their restaurant, so good in fact that I put my head around the open kitchen door to compliment the young chef, who turned out to be the owner's son. Following morning, and the owner was the complete opposite of the day before, effusively friendly, nothing too much trouble. As we prepared to leave, he pumped my hand warmly, and excused his behavior of the evening before. "I'm sorry if I seemed unfriendly yesterday", he said, "But I thought you were Dutch", and no I've never quite understood that either. Dutch not being too fond of Germans yes, but not the other way around, perhaps he'd been frightened by a windmill at some time in the past.



#46 Siddley

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 13:41

Mice with clogs on I'd expect :lol:



#47 Sharman

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 14:19

A few years ago, wife & I were mooching around in southern Bavaria. We found a suitable hotel almost on the Swiss border, it seemed OK so we decided to stay. I speak fairly good German so no communication problem, but the guy in reception who I later found out was the owner seemed somewhat unfriendly. The room was fine, and we had an excellent meal in their restaurant, so good in fact that I put my head around the open kitchen door to compliment the young chef, who turned out to be the owner's son. Following morning, and the owner was the complete opposite of the day before, effusively friendly, nothing too much trouble. As we prepared to leave, he pumped my hand warmly, and excused his behavior of the evening before. "I'm sorry if I seemed unfriendly yesterday", he said, "But I thought you were Dutch", and no I've never quite understood that either. Dutch not being too fond of Germans yes, but not the other way around, perhaps he'd been frightened by a windmill at some time in the past.

One of my sons worked for a UK company taken over by a Dutch outfit. He said that they were the most unreasonable people he had ever met. As he drives an aeroplane for a living he is used to a degree of give and take on the basis of " My wife's accepted an invitation to a wedding, will you swap your Friday for my Saturday?" and usually there is never a problem. Not so with the Dutch, whatever was asked (and not just by him but by all the Brits who had suffered the take over) was met with a stone faced refusal and the reply "That will not be possible". They would not oblige each other either.



#48 Nick Planas

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 14:34

I'm pleased to say our local secondary school takes the Year 8 kids (12-13 year-olds) to France each year, specifically to visit various WW2 battle sites and war-graves. Several times I've seen off a bunch of playful carefree children, and then met the bus on the way back with a lot of tired (fair enough - it's a long journey!) and fairly stunned and subdued kids on board. They would say "everywhere you looked there were these graves..." and then go all quiet. I don't think we need worry too much about the next generation being very aware of the huge sacrifices made by their gt. grandparents. I certainly make sure I follow it up with "and they weren't much older than you either" to ram the point home.



#49 Slurp1955

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 14:36

In the food hygiene business, we regularly did an international exhibition in Amsterdam. We ended up handling an account based in Utrecht, and the character we took over from greeted us with "You'll love dealing with the Dutch - they're like the Scots but without their generosity !" JohnP

#50 Gary Davies

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 15:18

Again we see almost comic British characters: Kenneth More as a 'stiff upper lip' beachmaster complete with bulldog, Sean Connery and Norman Rossington as a couple of chirpy Tommies. Even the RAF pilots are represented as caricatures, typified by the casting of Leslie Phillips (perhaps Terry-Thomas wasn't available?) Donald Houston did a decent job with a small part, but Richard Burton could surely have been better used.

 

Hello again, Richard. Your post prompted me to watch my DVD of The Longest Day again and by jingo, the Kenneth More character was certainly larger than life. So I went hunting. It seems that (then) Captain Colin Maud was indeed... different. Black beard, shellalagh, a dog (An Alsatian but Carl Foreman changed it to a bulldog since the commander of a coastal battery also had an Alsatian) and a booming voice.

 

As seen here - http://ww2talk.com/f...ore-colin-maud/ - post #6.