I hardly heard anything about D-Day yesterday, so I will post for today June 7th.
There was a memorable story that stood out was the journey 89 year-old Bernard Jordan took from his care home in Hove to join his colleagues in France. It’s already been nicknamed The Great Escape. This story is a little late since Bernard Jordan did this a few years back but still entertaining none the less. The rest is what I’ve read and cut and paste it since I think a lot of people should take this story and learn from it.
Quite rightly, the emphasis this weekend was on the veterans and thousands upon thousands of young men who died on those beaches and in the months following the invasion. But it got me to wondering about the news the British people received, listening to the radio or reading the papers to find out what was happening to their loved ones.
Once again, I turned to The Glasgow Herald of June 7th, 1944 for some insights and gathered together a collection of tidbits that appealed to me.
Whereas other papers’ headlines screamed Invasion, with only 8 pages available (because of paper rationing) The Glasgow Herald wasted little space on pictures and remained as understated as ever. On the front page were the usual blackout times (Glasgow 11.57pm until 4.34am) and notifications of births, marriages and deaths. The current entertainment available at the city’s theatres was listed (including the Half-Past Eight Show mentioned in last week’s blog) as well as a programme of musical concerts in city parks.
But the Invasion did make its presence known on the front page with notices from city churches informing the faithful of special prayers and services for ‘our King and County and Allies and for the Forces now invading Europe’. Glasgow Cathedral offered two services at noon and 3pm for ‘those engaged in the Second Front Operation’.
The Late News column referenced a German report which talked of ‘grim fighting’ between Havre and Cherbourg being the ‘bloodiest of the day’ with several hundred Canadian paratroopers wiped out or forced to surrender.
German Overseas Radio denied any fighting in Caen. ‘Mr Churchill’s reference about fighting in Caen is untrue. No enemy troops have penetrated into the city, therefore no fighting has taken place in Caen.’
Page two carried the Colonial Secretary being forced to deny a ‘silly and harmful story’ which had had much circulation, particularly in America, to the effect that America was being charged for every palm tree they destroyed in battles for the recovery of British possessions.
When talking about the history of invasion in Europe, one columnist pointed out that Caen had been the HQ of William The Conqueror before he turned his sights on England in 1066.
Eisenhower apparently carried seven old coins in his pocket – one being an ancient five guinea piece. He is said to have given these mascots a rub before the Italian invasion and everyone hoped that the mascots would do as good a job again.
Regarding the Invasion of Italy and France, it had been decided by Roosevelt and Churchill at the Casablanca Conference in 1943 that an invasion of the west would be deferred until the Allies had cleared the Mediterranean and knocked out Italy.
Page 3 contained Scottish news with detailed Invasion news starting on page 4.
The Invasion was originally scheduled for Monday June 5th, but postponed for 24 hours because of bad weather.
German Radio admitted the Allies had a foothold 10-15 miles long and nearly a mile deep in France.
Allied landings also took place on Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands.
Hitler was reported to have taken charge of the military response to the invasion.
Between midnight and 8am on June 6th, an estimated 31,000 Allied airmen flew over France. 1,300 Fortresses and Liberators began their attack at 6am ending at 8.30am.
Priority was being given for troops’ mail so that both the men in the front line and their relatives and friends at home should receive regular deliveries of letters.
One hour before they left for the beaches, the troops enjoyed a meal of pork chops and plum duff. Each solder was then given a ‘landing ration’ – a bag of chocolate and biscuits and cigarettes for ‘consumption while waiting’.
Civilian workmen and villagers who had seen anything of the preparations at an American airfield were detained in the camp by the authorities for 48 hours until news of the landings were released.
125,000,000 maps were used by the US invasion forces.
Eisenhower broadcast a Call to the People of Europe: The hour of your liberation is approaching. All patriots, men and women, young and old, have a part to play in the achievement of final victory.
General Montgomery wished the troops ‘Good Hunting in Europe’.
And then, on pages 7 and 8 it was back to normal with commodity markets, situations vacant, property, livestock and farms for sale. A five-room terraced house with kitchen and scullery could be bought for 800 pounds. So much for the biggest invasion force the world had ever seen.
If you ever get the opportunity to watch the film The Longest Day, I highly recommend it. It’s a comprehensive view of the events of June 6th, 1944 from all sides involved.
If you write a book about something that is little known, you have to be prepared for questions. Some will be silly and trivial, some will be deeper: but there will be questions. I wrote about Iran. Immediately I learned that many Americans know little about that country and its culture. Many of the questions I have been asked have been about the women of Iran. They seem so different from the women of America, so different and so very hard to comprehend.
The mere mention of Iran invokes suspicion. Backwardness, fundamentalism, and terrorism were some of the words that seemed to immediately spring to American minds. Iranian men are seen as bearded, militant, hostile, and chauvinistic. The women are assumed to be veiled, oppressed, and submissive. Shrouded in their traditional black chadors (the ultimate symbol of their oppression), Iranian women shown on television appear angry. Holding their hands in the air and chanting anti-American slogans, they are more than willing to join the men in a fight against the United States.
Is the anger and anti-Americanism of the Iranian woman real? Are these so-called truths only media propaganda? Are these mass images a reflection of “the people,” or are they just manufactured collages that deprive the individual Iranian woman of her personal humanity? Exactly who is the Iranian woman?
While her appearance seems to typify inferiority and the oppression of the “second sex” that is so prevalent in that part of the world, I beg to differ with the stereotype. Having lived in Iran and having been in day-to-day contact with many of these women, I know them to be wise, proud, and highly intelligent. They are also tactful if not downright manipulative as they deal with the male dominated society around them. They are in many ways truly heroes.
The true Iranian woman may be oppressed, but underneath she is rebellious. She is subjugated but unruly. She is controlled and at the same time defiant. She may seem hushed and subservient, but she is strong in her faith—a true believer—and ready to fight for it. However segregated and oppressed she may be, the Iranian woman is a revolutionary, a fighter, and willing to die for her nation. Yes, she is a loving mother and a dutiful wife, but she has the heart of a warrior and the soul of Persia beats within her.
In short, there is a contradiction between the submissive and the fierce sides of these women. Westerners tend to see only the passive and subservient side. Perhaps that is because Western observers have been so fascinated by what they have seen as so different from their own cultures. Certainly the conflict with Western values has highlighted the anti-feminist aspects of Iranian culture and Islam. In part the revivalism of modern Islam has fortified these traditional values and appearances.
However, having lived in Iran for three and a half years, I have seen the other side of Iranian women. Oriented very much in the here-and-now, Iranian women are pragmatic and are often looked to for advice. Most Iranian men were closer to their mothers than their fathers. Of course, older sons have a sense of responsibility for their mothers and sisters should anything happen to their fathers. Also, because women are removed from men in the common run of things, they may seem somehow more enigmatic, some one who has to be understood—especially after an arranged marriage, when the man is suddenly expected to take on the role of husband, a role for which he has had so little training.
It is interesting to see how greatly Iranian women change when they come to the United States, especially those women who come by themselves. Without the pressures of family, Iranian women who immigrate to the U.S. frequently give up the chador. They wait to marry. And perhaps most importantly, they continue their educations.
While the women who come here with their families and husbands continue the traditional ways (or perhaps are pressured into doing so), the women who are on their own quickly adapt to this land of new opportunities. Perhaps the most immediate sign of that adaptation is the change in their clothing. The drabness of traditional dress is suddenly replaced with color. But underneath that exuberant change, they are still some of the kindest people you will ever meet.
I would appreciate Amazon reviews if you read my book.