It must have been about 30 years ago that I visited that strip of coast with my family. Whichever year it was, we were there just a few days before the anniversary date. We saw Pointe du Hoc, which had been stormed by American Rangers, as well as the various beaches and Pegasus Bridge, the scene of the first of the action in the early hours of the day. We also visited the large American military cemetery at St Laurent-sur-Mer. Here are buried more than 9,000 American soldiers who died on D-Day and in the subsequent fighting. As it was just a few days before the anniversary, each headstone was marked with two flags, the Stars and Stripes and the Tricolor.
I'm not sure why we visited an American cemetery rather than a British, but the Old Bat and I have visited numerous British ones on other occasions. Whether or not their headstones are marked with flags, I know not, but the British cemeteries are far more floral than the American.
|Normandy Veteran Eric Gibbons, 90, looks at the headstones of fallen comrades at Bayeux War Cemetery. (Daily Mail, photo Getty Images)|
The whole operation - planning, preparation and execution - was a mind-boggling business, but the bravery of those men who were the first on the beaches is beyond my comprehension.
I salute them.