Tales from the Front Line: D-Day

Tales from the Front Line: D-Day

Tales from the Front Line: D-Day

Tales from the Front Line: D-Day

Synopsis

"Tales From the Front Line: D - Day" is a chronicle of the build-up and aftermath of the most decisive battle of World War II, told through the tales of the participants who recorded their experiences in letters or diaries, or recounted them after the event. Part of a new series featuring fascinating insights into the greatest conflicts in history. Jonathan Bastable has skillfully woven disparate tales from generals and frontline soldiers, statesmen and civilians, into a compelling narrative of one of the key events in the twentieth century.

Excerpt

On 4 June 1940, a few weeks after becoming prime minister, Winston Churchill spoke to parliament and the people of Great Britain. He gave one of the best speeches of his life – perhaps one of the finest speeches ever made in the English language. At its climax he said:

We shall fight them on the beaches; we shall fight on the
landing grounds; we shall fight in the fields and in the streets;
we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender
.

The beaches and hills Churchill had in mind were the beaches and hills of southern England. The British army had just been ignominiously driven out of France at Dunkirk. The Nazi war machine was twenty-five miles away on the French coast, and so the prime minister was preparing his people for the worst. He was telling them that Britain was about to be invaded.

That invasion never came – and yet Churchill's words were prophetic. Four years to the day after he spoke them, a massive invasion force lay in wait in English harbours, ready to take the fight back to the Germans. But now the beaches were the beaches of Normandy. And the fight was not the latest phase in Germany's expansion, but the beginning of the end of Nazi power in Europe.

The Distant Second Front

The battered troops of Dunkirk were barely out of their wet clothes when Churchill began thinking about sending them back as conquerors. But at that time there was no prospect at all of hitting back at Hitler. He controlled all mainland Europe. Britain – his only declared enemy – was weak and badly bruised. 'Britain fights alone,' said Churchill, and even he struggled to make it sound as if this was a good thing.

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