Posts Tagged ‘LAST STOP BEFORE DESTINY’

Today is 6th June, the 70th anniversary of D-Day – one of the most significant dates which would change the course of World War Two. On this day the Battle for Normandy began. The American Airborne Division parachuted in ahead of  thousands of British, Canadian and American troops who arrived on the five landing beaches, many of whom made it no further. Thousands died on that first day alone, in a bloody battle which was to rage all summer.

With Son away this week in Normandy taking part in the commemorations and celebrations which occur every year to mark this event, I grabbed my chance and re-introduced a duster to his room. As he is generally responsible for the state of his chamber I very rarely venture in. It’s amazing how dense dust can get within a year. Was it Quentin Crisp who said: “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”  I can see what he meant.

Anyway, as I was polishing along a bookshelf I came across a tiny sticker with the words:

“Enjoying your freedom? Thank a veteran.”

I was reminded of our extraordinary encounter last year with Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, a contact and friend of our son – an American Airborne veteran who stayed overnight with us while retracing his wartime steps through Europe. Son had taken him back to the English village where he had been billeted in 1943, to Stonehenge and to Bourne Woods in Surrey where “Band of Brothers” had been filmed before escorting him across the Channel to Normandy. Jim, age 92, astounded everyone by running some distance up hill, re-creating his tough training program in America before being shipped to England in 1943.

Some of you will remember that I posted a short film of his run last year. Here it is again, slightly longer to incorporate a second run he did when he got back to the States later that year: he ran up the original Currahee mountain in Toccoa, Georgia. It’s worth a second look. Make sure you have your sound turned up.

Son will meet up with Jim again in Normandy, over in Europe again to pick up an award. Thank a Veteran? Most definitely. Thanks to Jim and all those other young men who fought to give us all our freedom. May we never forget.

If you’d like to read more about Jim’s war, you can do so here, on my original post.

 

 

 

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At last, with much pride and an unashamed streak of nepotism, I can announce that Son has published his first book, an historical account of the 101st American Airborne’s time spent in our green and pleasant land prior to the D-Day landings of June 1944. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

After three years of extensive research which has taken him from the wilds of Wiltshire in southern England to the American Wild West and from Normandy to Holland and back again, he has pieced together archive photographs, anecdotes and interviews with veterans, the aim being:

“… not only to tell the history of this famous division during an often overlooked part of their service but to give an insight into how their relatively short period of time in England has left its mark nearly 70 years later.”

The division was made famous in 2001 when the miniseries Band of Brothers hit our screens and it was from a fascination with this that Son began his quest to discover as much about the whole division as he could. His goal was for the book to be ready to coincide with 6th June this year – the 70th anniversary of the historic Normandy invasion which was the turning point of WW2. After a few close shaves with proofing and the fine print, his book is finally published and for sale on Amazon.

You can check out his book here for UK readers and here for America.

Son will be over in Normandy for the celebrations in June – they are always extensive but this year promises to be even bigger and better as the Queen, Prince Phillip and President Obama will be in attendance. As I did last year, I will be writing some Normandy related posts in the run up to the 6th  of June and re-blogging the wonderful video of Son’s 92 year old veteran friend running up the mountain he first ran in 1942.

Where to next, I wonder …

 

 

 

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