Recollections

In a week which has seen so many recollections by veterans of the Longest Day one story struck me in particular. A former Scottish solder, now a full 100 years old, being presented with the Legion D’Honoure, the highest decoration the French Republic has for his part in D-Day. Quite a few veterans were being honoured in this manner. What made this one a little different was that as he was being interviewed on one of the beaches later on he was joined by his nephew, himself now an elderly veteran of that day. His nephew was a sailor and in a remarkable coincidence actually realised as he watched from the deck of his ship that one of the landing craft going ashore in front of him contained his uncle’s regiment. He actually saw it land and his uncle storm his way up the beach at Normandy. Of the thousands of vessels and tens of thousands of men he just happened to be in the right place to see his own kinsman. He watched anxiously as long as he could to make sure his uncle made it up the beach. Utterly remarkable. There was also the stories of a British and a German veteran. The British soldier – Patrick Churchill who was presented also with the Legion D’Honoure today – went on to befriend a young German woman who lost most of her family in the terrible Allied fire-bombing of Dresden. He went on to marry her. The young German soldier was taken prisoner after D-Day and taken to a camp in Britain. He later was befriended by an English woman and they too married. From such small acts are ruins rebuilt, redemption sought and peace returned.