Saturday, June 05, 2004

The SA press doesn't seem to be devoting much space to it, but tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Nowadays it seems common to portray the landings as a largely American affair or even, as one colleague put it to me recently, the beginning of America's liberation of Europe. This is regrettable however both because it minimises the efforts of the other nations present and because it is factually inaccurate. As I discovered whilst reading the BBC's excellent coverage this morning, the British Army (consisting of Brits and Canadians) was significantly larger than its American counterpart. Perhaps the lesson is not to look to Hollywood for history lessons.

I was in equal measures moved and amused whilst listening to a BBC Radio interview with a certain British brigadier who'd taken part in the assault. Whilst leading a group of 18 young men on an attack against a German gun emplacement, the brigadier had come under heavy fire resulting in the death of all but two of his soldiers. In a masterpiece of British understatement the brigadier described this as, '...a rather inauspicious start to one's day.'

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