6 June 2019 marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, when men from all over the world went to fight in Normandy to defeat Nazism. Codenamed Operation Neptune, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.
In preparation, a meeting of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force took place in London on 1 February 1944. Attendees included Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who would later become President of the USA and Gen. Bernard Montgomery, later elevated as 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. Following a study of weather patterns, Chief Meteorological Adviser James Stagg determined that the invasion should take place on 6 June.
On that day in 1944 Allied forces landed across a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coastline under heavy gun fire as portrayed in the opening scene of the film Saving Private Ryan, starring Tom Hanks. Casualty numbers were high and the battle to liberate North-West Europe from German occupation continued over the coming months.
Many Who’s Who entrants took part in the D-Day Landings, including Rear-Adm. George Dolphin, Brig. Sir Nicholas Somerville, and Air Vice-Marshal Sir Cecil Bouchier. Other participants demonstrate the wide variety of ordinary men who ended up serving their country in the campaign. Among them were Sir James Stirling, then just a young student at the Liverpool School of Art, who after the war became an architect. Also taking part were Denis Harrison, who had only recently qualified as a solicitor, and Marc van Hasselt who went on to become a school headmaster. John Burrell served in the Royal Navy at the D-Day Landings before becoming a barrister and QC. Eric Cockeram was wounded but later served as a Member of Parliament. Rev. Canon Frederick Robathan had already served in the First World War before being ordained and working as a prison and hospital chaplain; he then served in the Second World War, including at the Normandy Landings. Warren Tute was there on D-Day while in the Navy and later became a writer of novels, plays and history books, including Hitler—The Last Ten Days and D Day. Indeed many books on the subject have been written, including those by Sir Antony Beevor, Sir Max Hastings and Prof. Richard Holmes.
These soldiers, sailors, and airmen deserve to be remembered for the part they played in the fight to liberate Europe.