20 years on, 60 years on, thoughts on D-Day


20 year's ago I traveled with my dad and the remaining members of my grandfather's unit to Normandy for the 40th anniversary celebrations. I was 17, around the same age that some of them were on the day. My grandfather, Frank Holgate (also 'my F.'), survived the war but died from heart disease when I was far too young.

I've found the news reports of the 60th anniversary to be far more moving than I expected; possibly because I spent some time with these amazing people.

I seem to remember that I was treated as the unit mascot on the trip; this started on the journey over, the boat was rolling; my seat at the bar meant that I was looking out of the window and watching the waves and, well, when I returned from spending some quality time with the big white telephone I was passed a fresh beer and the guys cheered when I supped from it as if nothing had happened... And so it began...

I find myself thinking that I don't remember enough about the trip. It was a long time ago and I was young. Luckily dad was on photographic duty and has some amazing shots of the guys and everything that happened. I remember late night calvados. I remember the coach scraping its way along very narrow French roads and taking some wing mirrors with it. I remember the hotel, but not where it was. I remember the music in the streets in the morning. I remember Dad and I being in some very good spots for taking pictures, the guys marching in the parade in a perfect line. I remember the military precision of the 'food run' to get lunch when the coach stopped at one of the beaches; you, you and you get cheese and meats, you get wine, you get bread, back here in 10 minutes. I remember one of the guys slipping away to see if he could find the house of the young French lady that he got to know at the time...

Once dad gets back from his visit to the 60th anniversary I think I'll try and find out a bit more.

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