My D-Day story

My mother had taken myself and my two brothers down the road some quarter-mile to our local Catholic  primary school that breezy June Tuesday morning, and delivered us into the capable hands of the headmistress and teachers. Whilst being uncertain of the lessons taught, from a vantage point of seventy years, I can confirm that there was no talking back to a teacher, no insolence, no backchat. Apart from the truth that we, as somewhat small children were in awe of our teachers, we knew that if word got back to our respective mothers, we would never hear the end of the trouble we would find ourselves in. Readers would note that I stressed ‘mothers’ as the recipients of any disciplinary comment from the school, as just about all our fathers were away, in uniform, serving our King and our Country. We probably played a little in the schoolyard at break time, but we were always aware that we could not leave the school, even for a short while because there was always the possibility of an air-raid warning siren, and the teachers warned that we had to be ready to run for the shelter entrance.
I was four years old, nearly five , and me and my brothers were just schoolkids, but we knew that people all over Newcastle were doing ordinary things, going to school, shopping, writing letters, the normal stuff of everyday life; we did not understand that over 150,000 soldiers; British, Irish, Canadian, American had poured ashore over a twenty-odd mile length of the Normandy coast line, aided by an armada of ships, a veritable cloud of aircraft and a hope that this invasion would be, literally, the beginning of the end. The end of the Nazi’s ‘Thousand year Reich’, the end of the Nazi dream of being ‘JudenFrei’; although we did not understand what that really meant until later in life. We were the victors, that breezy day in June, 1944, and we owe it to ourselves to remember that brave men and women fought and sometimes died so that we might recall a time when politicians had not given much of our freedoms away in an illusory dream of ‘Togetherness!’

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