TinaCortina's Blog

Musings of a Tgirl

Thankful for freedom!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Last week of course the sprint up to Shropshire to celebrate my daughter’s good news;  the previous weekend we had a very enjoyable trip to Normandy, France with A-M’s father in tow.

I had found it educational and truly inspiring when visiting some of the World War 1 graveyards around Ypres on the way to Brussels a couple of years ago  and I was keen to do something similar in the area of the D-day landings for World War 2.  Given the age of our parents:  my Dad trained to be an RAF pilot and served in Africa and the Far East, my father-in-law was a marine in the naval corps, spending most of the time with the Pacific fleet, it would have been great to have either or both to join with us and lend a little ‘history’ to our visit.

In the end my father in law was able to come and we booked a Friday to Monday mini holiday, driving down to the South Coast, doing the Poole to Cherbourg Sea catamaran, the 80-100 miles in about 3 hours, returning to Portsmouth Monday lunchtime.

In between we took in the Utah beach landings (Americans landed at Utah and Omaha) that first morning.  It was brisk and wet and they had left the barbed wire atop the dunes.  The museum bore testimony to the vast effort and bravery of the US in landing as they all did on the 6 June 1944.

We stayed in the beautiful cathedral town of Bayeux, home of course of the 11th century tapestry and just 10km from the coast.  The following morning we took in the tranquillity of a British war cemetery at Ryes (Bazenville) on the way to Arromanches.  There I learned of the British landings at Gold and Sword beach and let us not forget the Canadians on Juno.

My father has never talked a great deal about the war.  I suspect that after the war, he and my mother just gritted their teeth and got on with it.  On the other hand, my father in law has always enjoyed talking.  On any and every topic he has a story and is just so knowledgeable on every aspect of naval life, the war the military, whether British or US.  He has met admirals, been to Nagasaki, he was in the Punjab (northern India for 5 years as a kid). He was even torpedoed in 1936!

Anyway, visiting Arromanches and learning of the MULBERRY harbours (an idea that Churchill seized on and made possible), mobile concrete harbours that they built  throughout the UK,  and then sank before re-floating prior to D-day, and sailing to the south coast and then transporting across to Normandy.  Phenomenal!  The genius of it, without which we just would not have been able to continue the on-going fight-back against the German panzer divisions.  The re-supply of the troops was vital.  That harbour, some still there to view  and the laying of the PLUTO pipeline across the channel to allow re-supply of petrol for the tank and lorries showed the .

And for all this Allied troops, British, US, Canadian, Polish etc trained in Britain in the months leading up to d-day; the planning that must have been involved, the secrecy, the manpower, the support functions to get 1m troops across the channel and landed………….

War at present in Afghanistan is awful, and Iraq is both recent past and on-going is equally so.

But LET US NOT FORGET that WW2 was responsible for 60-80 MILLION deaths.  Staggering isn’t it.  Unless your schooling has been good (and mine hasn’t been especially good on this issue) the mind simply boggles.  I guess I knew that the holocaust and associated victims were up to 10m dead.  I never quite understood the scale of the 24m USSR deaths (14 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION) or the 10-20m in China.

I can’t even get my head around the fact that the UK had 450,000 deaths (1% of the population) or USA 420,000 deaths.

The sacrifice of that generation.

‘They gave up their tomorrow for our today’.  So that we could live in freedom.  Our happiness, our prosperity is a direct result of their sacrifice.

We stayed in the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux (highly recommended) and also visited the British cemetery there .  4,000 graves, mostly British, several hundred Polish and some Canadian, 400 German also buried there.  I’ve seen hate, I’ve seen the way it can be brought to fester and expand; I can’t blame the whole German (Japanese etc) peoples for their leadership and the way they followed them like lambs.

It was a beautiful cemetery. Beautifully kept ~see photo at head of page.  I hope I will always remember its tranquility as a reminder of good and bad.

As with the WW1 visits, I got emotional, I am not ashamed to say that I cried.  Tears tumbled down my face on many occasions that weekend.  I cried for all those lost souls, especially those gravestones where there were no names and for those without gravestones.  Or where there were some flowers from relatives.  I read all the accompanying notes, the ones from children or grandchildren that would never have known the hero that died for their sake.  LET US NOT FORGET.

Sorry;  I do realise that the above is not the most uplifting of my blogs.  Important nevertheless, and for me a most enjoyable weekend, with my wife, love of my life, and her father.  We had a great time together and I shared some special times with her father.  Normandy is very friendly.  The French very welcoming.  They remember, so should we.

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A few of my thoughts

  • Life is precious, freedoms are precious.
  • Protect life, respect life, individuals and minorities.
  • We are all different.  Respect and enjoy the differences.
  • Be fearful of our democracies for given the power they do things IN YOUR NAME.  But democracies are generally better than the alternatives.
  • Cherish the family unit.  Love is what brought us into being.  It will bring the next generation into being.
  • Show love unto your family and unto all and there is a chance that we can die happy, knowing that our children, our children’s children, our children’s children’s children, have a future.

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If you have been, thanks for reading

Hugs

TinaCortina x

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September 7, 2010 - Posted by | other/ family | , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Hi Tina,

    We lived in West Germany, as it was then, for three years, and saw a lot of the war graves there, and in Holland. The thing that lives in our memories the most, is how young most of them were when they died – just teenagers. So sad, so moving.

    The Germans were lovely to us. Lots of nice memories.

    Hugs, Anna x

    Comment by Anna Arendt | September 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Anna

      You are quite right; many were 18 and 19 and the German graves I saw had a lot of 18yr olds.

      Such a waste.

      Tina x

      Comment by TinaCortina | September 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. Very nice blog and really makes you think about the sacrifices made by our fathers and grand parent. We complain about our lives but have no idea what it was like during WWI and WWII. My Dad also has lots of stories about WWII as he was in it and I enjoy listening to them as we should never forget. I have never been overseas but hope to make it someday as I would really love to see the places you mentioned.
    Well done
    Thanks
    Susan

    Comment by susanmiller64 | September 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for your Comment Susan. I’m glad your Dad is happy to talk about it, but many prefer not to.

      Hugs
      Tina x

      Comment by TinaCortina | September 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. My father-in-law Fred was evacuated from Durkirk, the only one of his group to survive an attack on their vehicle as they travelled towards the coast. He could hardly talk about it and always absented himself when there was a Remembrance Parade on the TV. He went on to fight in North Africa and Italy but never really recovered from the mental anguish of war.

    When I stand in cemeteries like those in France I realize afresh the huge cost borne by so many, including dear old Fred, for the peace we enjoy.

    Comment by Angela Davis | September 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Angela

    Yes, they were so brave; they had to be. But they will have lost so many friends also and I can understand why they don’t want to talk.

    Hugs Tina x

    Comment by TinaCortina | September 18, 2010 | Reply


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