Remembering D-Day was an awesome experience. Watching the television pictures on Sky International and reading the daily coverage in a national newspaper I do not usually read truly hit the mark.
We were staying in a small hotel in Greece and of course many Germans were present. From them came warm smiles and firm handshakes.
What the Daily Mail and Sky shared was the true strength of the human spirit.
Though the pictures and pages of the wonderful coverage we saw the true heroes. The Normandy Veterans were heroes all. They had been there, they knew the horrors.
War is a time when ordinary people do extra ordinary things. Never was this more obvious than on 6 June.
As a school teacher I have taken pupils to those famous beaches. Explaining what had happened there, I had to pause as many were sobbing. They understood, they cared, who cannot?
There were many Americans on those beaches. Reed ”Band of Brothers” by Steven Ambrose now a TV series produced by Hanks and Spielberg or better still head south on the A419 and as you see the signs for Swindon Hospital you will see the name Aldbourne. In this village the 101st airbase, better known as the Screaming Eagle’s trained. In the pub overlooking the green you will see photographs, writings and memorabilia of young men who achieved both glory and honour. In this peaceful English setting you will see triumph and tragedy.
Kipling called these two emotions imposters. Not in this pretty English village, not on the Normandy beaches. They were real and true.
From all over the free world a mighty force landed in France. Our forces came from our country, our valleys, our villages and our homes.
As a four year old boy I had sat on a wall in Daglingworth in late May. From their camouflage camp in Overlay Wood Lorries of cheerful young Americans headed through the village. We all knew why.
A couple of weeks later we saw my grandmother paying a surprise visit to Sheepscombe. Mum went to meet her. These two strong Cotswold women hugged. Their shoulders shook. I did not need to be told. One had lost a son, the other a brother. I had lost an uncle. Sargent Jack Tibbles. Glorious Glousters.