Friday, 5 June 2009

Forgotten Voices of D-Day

I am a huge fan of the Forgotten Voices series of books from Ebury Press, produced in association with the Imperial War Museum, which are thematically based on various military ventures from the 20th Century, and which carry powerful oral testimonies from those involved. I know that some people do not see the value of oral history and prefer to read dry academic accounts of the events featured, written many years after by scholars, but if you want to discover the raw emotions, the fear, the sacrifices and the triumphs of a military campaign as it happened, there is no better resource other than the original sound recordings themselves, held at the IWM.

The latest edition to be produced is Forgotten Voices of D-Day, edited by Roderick Bailey with an introduction by Winston S. Churchill. With tomorrow being the 65th anniversary of D-Day, I decided to give this a go in a bid to understand what really happened, as the sum of my knowledge really only focussed on some Americans landing and looking for a Private Ryan! (It didn't happen - really?!). My grandfather's cousin, Captain John MacFarlane, was decorated with the Croix de Guerre after service in Normany with 194 Field Ambulance (RAMC), but I had no idea how difficult it was for the British to land, and the horrific resistance they encountered. This book has certainly filled a void on that front.

Also on D-Day, the BBC has an interview online with AB Seaman Duncan Moon, who served on HMS Holderness during the landings. The account is available online at the following link: Awful sights of D-Day landings

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