D – Day Forty Years On 1984

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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.

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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 …

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This modern cover recreates quite well my Airfix boyhood version of D-Day

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.

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One of the other  souvenirs of the 40th anniversary was this special edition newspaper by the News Portsmouth.

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Daily Express 6th or 7th June 1984

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.

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Daily Express 7th June 1984

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.

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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.

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President and Nancy  Reagan, Daily Mail, 7 June 1984
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The Queen with leaders and royals from Canada, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and President Reagan, Daily Express,  7 June 1984
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Daily Express 7 June 1984
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Reagan in a bunker in tears and RAF veteran Jimmy Edwards, Daily Express, 7 June 1984

I was more  fascinated at the time by the veteran’s tales than the maps and grand strategy.

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Daily Mail 6 or 7 June 1944
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Daily Mail, 7 June 1984
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Daily Mail, 7 June 1984
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A personal story of a veteran and their family, Daily Mail 7 June 1984
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Daily Mail, 7 June 1984

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Everyone seemed so young in 1984: D-Day casualty’s  child 39 year old Elizabeth Poole who never met her father. One of those personal stories … Daily Express 7 June 1984

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.

 

 

6 thoughts on “D – Day Forty Years On 1984”

    1. Thanks Bob. I thought others might find it interesting when there were tens of thousands of veterans to parade rather than a few hundred. The personal stories are always interesting. The news coverage in places seems very different in attitude.

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  1. A wonderful collection.

    I have the Featherstone Commando book and am hoping to run his “Fighting in Built-Up Areas” rules tomorrow with some toy soldiers in commemoration. My “Tabletop Adventures” program is quite successful though primarily Dungeons and Dragons, but wargames are tabletop too!

    I discovered the D-Day Tapestry in an issue of the history magazine American Heritage as a child, and was lucky to finally see it with my father a couple years ago. It was actually our second trip to Portsmouth, and we hadn’t made it the previous time so made it a priority. Very glad we did!

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    1. I was too busy this week to run a D-Day scenario and at first in two minds about it but today I feel that such a thing does not trivialise the event but gives a strong sense and understanding of how difficult and ‘touch and go’ many of the beach, glider and paratroop landings were.

      I’m glad your Tabletop adventures are going well. D and D can progress on to many other gaming things.
      Glad you got to see the Overlord tapestry, it was a memorable sight to see as a child. I hope to see the Tapestry again one day.

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