Thursday, June 6, 2013

D-day + 69

Commander K. at Churchill War Rooms, London

Sixty-nine years ago today the Allies stormed ashore in the D-day landings on the Normandy coast of France.  The Americans landed on Utah and "bloody" Omaha beaches.  The British arrived on Sword and Gold beaches.  The Canadians landed on Juno beach.  The Rangers scaled up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and disabled the German guns which threatened the landings.  The American Airborne divisions (82nd and 101st) had landed the previous evening around midnight near St. Mere Eglise, while the British Paras secured Pegasus bridge.

The liberation of France began, not on June 6, 1944, but, in fact, in September of 1943 with the liberation of Corsica (

Allied planes were painted with black and white "D-day stripes" to avoid friendly fire errors that had plagued the invasion of Sicily in 1943 (

James Doohan, who later became "Scottie" on the original TV series Star Trek, landed that day with the Canadian troops on Juno beach.  He was shot six times by friendly fire that evening, but survived  (

Billie Harris, piloting a P-51 Mustang, crashed and was killed in France leaving behind the last D-day widow on this day (

The D-day spies managed to utterly fool the Germans into believing that the landings would take place at the Pas de Calais and not Normandy  (

Commander K. with B-17, Duxford
Last week Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg died.  His primary legislative achievement was the introduction of a mandatory age 21 drinking age nationwide which is said to save many thousands of lives each year.  Lautenberg was the last US Senator who served (in the US Army Signal Corps) during World War II.
Dame Vera Lynn, born 1917
Vera Lynn, on the other hand, is, happily, still going strong at age ninety-six!  According to Billboard magazine, "In September of 2009, the 92-year-old Lynn became the oldest singer ever to top the British album charts, when a new Decca collection of her World War II recordings, We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn, hit the number one spot, a doubly extraordinary achievement in light of the reissue of the entire Beatles catalog that same month."  ( Vera Lynn, the wartime crooner, has struck a chord with music lovers in the 21st century.  In our age of anxiety and historical forgetfulness that is something to remember and be grateful for.

The month of June with its graduations, farewells, sunny days and D-day commemorations is the perfect time to enjoy Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again.

Cheers from London!

Special thanks to David Michaelson for photographic assistance.

You can now find Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades,  here or on Amazon


Unknown said...


This is a great tribute for June 6th, 1944 D-Day + 69. To all the men and women that made it a victory at such a great cost; when our Grandfathers and Fathers stepped up to one of the most horrific call to arms in history. I remember when I was a kid, winter time in Minnesota hanging out in the VFW with my Mom and Dad hearing those very songs by “Dame Vera Lynn”, over and over: “We’ll Meet Again” and the White Cliffs of Dover and many more. They were still healing from the memories and loss from WWII and the Korean War. For Senator Frank Lautenberg as the last serving WWII Vet in the US Senate R.I.P. my brother… Thank You for this inspirational issue of Commander Kelly!

D Dengerud

Sue Clark-Johnson said...

Chris - This is truly wonderful. The pictures are a priceless keepsake and, I know Vera Lynn songs, particularly these two as we have them on a WW2 CD of songs. Thanks for taking the time to do this so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Interesting factoids. Thanks for pointing them out!