The D-Day 75th Anniversary is almost upon us.
At some point, maybe in 1984 or earlier, we must have gone on a family trip to to Portsmouth to see the Operation Overlord tapestry . I was fascinated with the intricate needlework, using real threads of battledress khaki, gold braid etc. I left with a souvenir guidebook that I still have today, showing and explaining each panel. My Dad explained that this was a modern Bayeux Tapestry, not 1066 but 1944.
I already knew a bit about D Day. I’d seen The Longest Day many times on television. I had received as a birthday present the 1980/ 81 Reader’s Digest Book of True Stories of World War Two (abridged) including a section of Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day book. Above all there was Airfix …
To a boy of the Airfix generation, I could as a child recognise the shapes and colours of the uniforms, tanks, ships and planes involved as they formed a large part of my imagination and childhood, just as a birdwatcher recognises different birds by shade, size and colour.
One of the other souvenirs of the 40th anniversary was this special edition newspaper by the News Portsmouth.
As part of the 40th anniversary my Dad collected or bought several different newspapers as he knew I would be interested and it would help my school history studies.
A former National Serviceman, my Dad worked with many WW2 veterans and sometimes at lunchtime or retirement parties they would talk to my Dad about their service days. Dad told me some of the odd story that they had told him about Operation Torch, Overlord etc. This made the accounts in history books seem much more real.
Looking back at these front pages, apart from everyone looking younger, you realise the Cold War was still in place and Nuclear war a possibility. The presence of President Reagan and NATO Allied leaders but not Russian or German representatives tells its own story.
I was more fascinated at the time by the veteran’s tales than the maps and grand strategy.
I shall post a few more D Day 40 years on 1984 items in the next few days. I hope you find them interesting as we head into the 75th anniversary.
D-Day 6th June 1944 remembered.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, D-Day 75th Anniversary, June 2019.