The Telegraph - The D Day Landings (Paperback)
Seventy-five years have passed since that most mighty of armadas embarked across the English Channel. With hindsight, we know that Operation OVERLORD was a resounding triumph but, at the time, the risks and stakes were immense and the outcome far from a foregone conclusion. Set against the invading force was not only a ruthless enemy in formidable defensive positions but the uncertainties of the elements.
As Bill Deedes points out in his Foreword, it was the ‘ordinary man’ who turned this great undertaking into a reality and Philip Warner’s The D Day Landings reflects this by being a rich collection of personal accounts by just such individuals. We hear the experiences of RAF pilots who dropped the parachutists and towed the gliders; of sailors of the Royal Navy who had to negotiate minefields and other obstacles; and of a wide spectrum of soldiers. Some such as infantry, tank crews, gunners and sappers came face-to-face with the enemy while others, for example doctors and chaplains, provided vital support. Hostile fire does not distinguish between those roles any more than it does between high and junior rank. It is a fascinating privilege to share these widely diverse individuals’ experiences and emotions at such a defining moment both in their lives and in the history of the world.
Today no matter how hard we try, we cannot really know what was really going on through the minds of those thousands of men who so selflessly stepped into the unknown in the pursuit of freedom. But we are unlikely to come closer than by reading this evocative book so sympathetically compiled by a man who knew the fortunes of war better than most. Each section is introduced by clear explanation of the action concerned and the text is enhanced by maps and photographs.