Landing From Above

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It’s now 5:50 AM UK time as I write this. On another June 6, seventy-two years ago this morning, the Normandy beach landings would be starting within about the next half hour. But several hours earlier, starting just after midnight, thousands of U.S. and British paratroopers had already come down a few miles behind those planned invasion beaches on the French coast:

The now famous photograph: General Eisenhower talking with U.S. paratroopers at a take-off airfield, southern England, evening, June 5, 1944. One soldier there later said that Eisenhower had looked so stressed and worried that they all felt they had to reassure him everything would be fine. [U.S Army photo. Public domain.]
The now famous photograph: General Eisenhower talking with U.S. paratroopers at a take-off airfield, southern England, evening, June 5, 1944. One soldier there later said that Eisenhower had looked so stressed and worried that they all felt they had to reassure him everything would be fine. [U.S Army photo. Public domain.]

When we think of D-Day, the first images that rush to our minds are usually the invasion beaches – Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah. However, D-Day was already well-underway before a single soldier came ashore from a landing craft. Twenty-one years ago in Normandy, by chance I bumped into one of those who had landed from above and I’ve never forgotten it:

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

We tend to think this era we live in is “tough times,” yet we really have little idea. Many of us had/have parents, grandparents, and, increasingly, great-grandparents, who found themselves caught up in that horrible conflict from 1939-1945. Yes, there are loads of troubles in our world today, but whatever America’s and Europe’s challenges now they are nothing compared to those our ancestors faced just over seventy years ago.

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