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#51 RCH

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 23:26

Sad tale I was told some years ago by a then recently retired Methodist minister. The minesweeper he was serving on as a very young man was plying its trade off the Normandy beaches when it was sunk by so called "friendly fire". So apparently were some other similar craft, the RAF having been informed that the only ships in that sea area would be German. He had no resentment of the pilots involved but had huge resentment of the powers that be who "airbrushed" the whole episode completely out of history. There were very few survivors and none of them received any recognition for their involvement in D Day or any campaign medals. The families of the men who died were only told that their loved ones had died at sea with no details.

 

On leaving the Navy and taking holy orders he made it his life work to try and get some recognition for his shipmates, apparently all he ever got was an unofficial acknowledgement that the incident happened.


Edited by RCH, 10 June 2014 - 23:35.


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#52 onelung

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 23:30

Allied losses through drowning exceeded those as a result of enemy fire.

Something of which I have only recently become aware.



#53 nicanary

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 12:52

For those presently at home, "The Longest Day" is being screened on Film 4.

 

(BTW I referred earlier to the phrase "those who pay the piper..." - DCN rightly pointed out that we have repaid our wartime loans to the US, but I was actually thinking in terms of the fact that if the moguls in Hollywood want to pay to have a film made, then they (probably rightly) can say what the content can be, however factually incorrect.)

 

PS - I wasn't referring in my post to the admirable Bill Millins. I've read guff in one of the redtops that the Germans didn't shoot him because they thought he was mad - unlikely even if it makes good reading. Talking of paying pipers, are they paid the same as regular enlisted men, indeed are they regarded as bandsmen?



#54 Glengavel

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 14:24

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.

 

I vaguely remember reading that Maud thought that More's portrayal was a bit exaggerated but having read the above I'm not so sure!

 

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.

 

Re Richard Burton, it appears that he (and Roddy McDowall) were filming 'Cleopatra' in Rome at the time but were so fed up with hanging about (presumably waiting for Liz to emerge from make-up) that they offered their services for free.



#55 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:26

Thinking about WW2-era Allied commanders such as Monty - above - is quite sobering. Half-forgotten today but one of the most admired, like Bill Slim, was the American General of English and Irish parentage - Lucian King Truscott. His tough-trained men performed well in the Italian campaign and he led by example, without any of the the self-aggrandising weaknesses demonstrated by so many of his peers. In 1945, when Truscott made a Memorial Day speech in a military cemetery near the landings site of Anzio he turned his back upon the military glitterati assembled behind him... Instead, he addressed his speech quietly to the crosses there, and he apologised to the dead for having led them to their fate... 

 

Few wartime commanders from any nation showed such self-critical awareness.

 

DCN



#56 Paul Parker

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 14:11

Sad tale I was told some years ago by a then recently retired Methodist minister. The minesweeper he was serving on as a very young man was plying its trade off the Normandy beaches when it was sunk by so called "friendly fire". So apparently were some other similar craft, the RAF having been informed that the only ships in that sea area would be German. He had no resentment of the pilots involved but had huge resentment of the powers that be who "airbrushed" the whole episode completely out of history. There were very few survivors and none of them received any recognition for their involvement in D Day or any campaign medals. The families of the men who died were only told that their loved ones had died at sea with no details.

 

On leaving the Navy and taking holy orders he made it his life work to try and get some recognition for his shipmates, apparently all he ever got was an unofficial acknowledgement that the incident happened.

 

This no doubt is just one example of such incidents, anything too embarrassing or controversial is often denied, ignored or made light of to save face for those in charge.



#57 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 14:54

This no doubt is just one example of such incidents, anything too embarrassing or controversial is often denied, ignored or made light of to save face for those in charge.

Likely buried in a file at TNA and marked 'closed until 2045'.