Today is June 6th, the anniversary of the beginning of Operation Overlord, which began the end of the German hold on mainland Europe. It’s also been a little over a year since I traveled to Normandy and got to see it for myself with a couple highly qualified tour guides, and it’s been over a year since I finished my final paper on the Norwich Students who fought at Normandy.
The past year has marked some changes since I went abroad. Last December, the last Norwich veteran of the day, Arthur Harrington, passed away. I’ve since begun my master’s degree in Military History, largely guided by my experiences in the country. Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading on the campaign.
Studying Normandy is an incredibly complex and difficult thing to comprehend. It was one of the largest military operations in history, even through to today. Millions of Allied and Axis soldiers were involved in the operation, which successfully liberated Paris on August 25, 1944. The sheer logistics of this is mind boggling.
World War II, in my mind, is one of the wars that shouldn’t be labeled as the Last Good War, or something along those lines. I’d label it as the Last Popular War. The sheer amount of media attention on the conflict in recent years is immense, and while such information is good, it’s overwhelming at times, and popular history tends to perpetuate things, like the labeling that WWII has received. In my mind, it’s a shame that some of the other conflicts, such as Korea, World War I, and others haven’t received the same attention, as this not only draws more people to the field of history, but it also helps uncover a lot of baseline data from people who were there.
Overlord and D-Day still hold a great deal of interest to me, as it’s a fairly easy thing for me to research, study but most of all conceptualize. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to revisit my Normandy project again and continue to research what the Norwich people did there, in more detail. For that, I’ll be visiting the National Archives, which should still have the original mission reports from various units, which will give me all the information that I need.
D-Day was a success. I’ve read accounts of where people have said that it was a horrible disaster, based on how many people had perished and how long it took to push further into France. I would argue that, when you look at the War in context, and think about just how complicated the situation was, and how everything came together. There were issues, and problems during the invasion. Many people died, some needlessly, but by doing so, they helped bring an end to Hitler’s hold on Europe.
In the meantime, it’s a good time to reflect on the invasion. It’s one of the few points in history where there is a really clear tipping point in a conflict, and the successes of this operation really changed the way the world operated in and helped shape today.