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The Heroes of D-Day

D for Disembarkation. A hundred and fifty five thousand Allied troops went ashore on those Normandy beaches in the very first hours. How did they get away with it?

Because D was also for Deceit. The most incredible military deceit which meant not only keeping the real plan secret, but also convincing the Germans that there was another plan – another vast American invasion force ready in Britain to hit another part of the French coast altogether. Brilliant fiction. And it worked.

D for Diligence. How else could this massive force, the biggest in history, have been brought together under one command. 5000 ships, 11,000 planes. 30,000 bombs dropped on German positions in advance. And - a stark piece of arithmetic, given today's rapidly rising gasoline prices – Allied forces in France guzzled no less than 5000 tons of gas every day thereafter. It all had to be shipped in.

D was also for Dwight. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the General who went on to become your President. But the General who was so unsure if the plan would work that he carried in his pocket a handwritten personal apology in case it all went wrong. For many it did go wrong.

D was for Death. Hundreds mown down before their feet ever touched the sand on Omaha and Utah beaches. By nightfall on June 6th 1944 the toll of Allied dead and injured had reached 9000.

But D was for the Destruction of the Nazi regime and the Defence of freedom. Without D Day Hitler might still have been defeated, but much more slowly – and by the advancing Russians. Communism could thus have conquered all of mainland Europe, not just the East.

The D in D Day actually meant nothing at all – just a bit of meaningless military jargon. Sixty years on the true heroes, the real Private Ryans, are old and thin on the ground. Seventy years on most won't be around to tell it like it was.

So we have a D ....for Duty... to keep on remembering them – and everything they did.

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