Commemorating D-Day: The 80th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings

Commemorating D-Day: The 80th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings

The year is 1944. France, like many European nations before it, is under the control of Nazi Germany. On the Western Front, World War II is reaching a tremendous climax as the Allied forces mount a daring seaborne invasion on the beaches of Normandy, the largest in military history to this day: Operation Neptune.

Today, we may look back on the history books and take for granted that the Allies’ victory was on the horizon, but for the brave soldiers fearfully anticipating the perilous march through the cold tides to Omaha Beach, nothing was guaranteed. No matter the outcome, the human cost of this battle would be catastrophic.

Despite immense Allied casualties, Operation Neptune was largely successful and paved the way for the liberation of Vichy France.

The year is 2024. 80 years after this historic battle’s bloody conclusion, the world has not forgotten the sacrifices of D-Day or the enormous debt owed to all Allied soldiers for the freedom they fought for. At Austin Macauley Publishers, we have had the pleasure of publishing countless books about World War II, some covering D-Day, Operation Overlord, and the liberation of France. Here are some great titles that commemorate the Second World War.

Passive Conflict by Irene Camus Smith

Irene Camus Smith, a native of the tranquil Jersey Island, faced a drastic shift in her life as World War II's turmoil reached the Channel Islands. With the demilitarization of Britain's oldest possessions, the German forces occupied the islands, marking the first time in centuries that Hitler's regime had a presence on British territory. This occupation lasted five gruelling years, bringing with it a shadow of fear and control.

Throughout the German siege, especially after the Allied forces landed in Normandy, the Channel Islanders suffered severe deprivation, battling starvation and clinging to survival. Irene's family's story is interwoven with the collective narrative of the islanders, showcasing their incredible fortitude. Her story, emblematic of the Channel Islanders' indomitable spirit, serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and hope that can emerge from the depths of one of the bleakest periods in history.

Alamein to Berlin 1942-1945 by Francis Horsfield

This diary and narrative was written by Signaller F. Horsfield of the 7th Armoured Division. After serving two years in the Middle East, he returned to this country for fourteen days’ leave then rejoined his regiment and later took part in the invasion of France. Francis Horsfield was born on the 17th of January 1917 in Darwen Lancashire into a working-class family, the youngest of four children. He volunteered for the army and was trained as a signaller. He died on the 6th of November, 1975.

Some Corner of a Foreign Field by Janet Kinrade Dethick

“Even after capture, the full horrors of war still persisted. Bombed and strafed by our own planes, and shelled by our own artillery, the words ‘For you the war is over, Tommy,’ had a hollow ring…November 1942, after five months in Suani Ben Adem, we sailed from Tripoli, en route to Naples. We were held in the hold of a coal boat, battened down, with only a few buckets for sanitation purposes. Packed in like sardines, we would have had no chance of survival, had the ship come under attack from the Royal Navy, not an uncommon occurrence.”

These are the words of Private Bill Blewitt, 1st Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters, captured near Gazala in the Western Desert. He survived his capture, but over a thousand did not.

Laid to rest alongside the battle casualties in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries in Italy are these prisoners of war. They died from neglected wounds or diseases, were accidentally or deliberately shot both inside and outside their camps, or were victims of friendly fire incidents. Some had taken up arms again, had fought with the partisans and had died alongside them. Others had been captured whilst on dangerous missions and summarily executed. Many, but not all, have a name.

Let us all take this time to reflect on the past and give thanks to those who fought and lost their lives, not just in the World Wars, but all conflicts that sadly persist throughout the world.

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