W2W - the true heroes

YOU could not fail to be moved while watching yesterday’s footage of surviving veterans commemorating D-Day.

None younger than 90, their courage on 6th June, 1944, was undeniable, their modesty today truly humbling.

Like us, they still marvel at their survival against overwhelming odds.

And, like us, they paid tribute to their comrades, many drawn from the 1.5 million Americans stationed in the UK at the time.

Yesterday, was the 75th anniversary of that historic day, when 156,000 servicemen landed on the Normandy beaches in the greatest seaborne invasion ever mounted.

Mostly British and Americans, troops from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Greece and France also took part.

This astounding co-operation between nations marked the beginning of the long and painful liberation of Europe from the Nazis.

And South Dorset played a proud role.

Only six weeks before D-Day, thousands of troops assaulted the beaches of Studland and Shell Bay in a full-blown rehearsal, which included live ammunition.

Tens of thousands more US military personnel, including support staff and vehicles, embarked from Weymouth and Portland.

Still more flew from Tarrant Rushton airfield and parachuted into Northern France.

After one postponement due to adverse weather, General Eisenhower gave Operation Overlord the final green light to go ahead on the 6th June.

First in were the parachutists and glider-borne troops, followed by the seaborne assault on the Normandy beaches.

Allied casualties were 10,000 on the first day alone.

With no port to operate from, the revolutionary ‘Mulberry’ harbours were towed over to France and sunk in pre-planned locations.

These were vital if so many troops were to be sustained in the days that followed.

Seventy-five years on, these elderly veterans bring true meaning to the word hero.