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On Tuesday June 6th 1944 I was a small boy attending primary school. I’m sure my parents heard the BBC 9 o’clock news announcing the Normandy invasion, but I was asleep in bed. However, I do have genuine memories of June 5th, 1944. We lived in Cambridge which was surrounded by British and American air bases. Like every self-respecting nine-year-old I could identify the silhouette of every British and American fighter, bomber, transport and glider. The Monday evening June 5th sky had been filled with DC 3s (or Dakotas as the Brits called them) filled paratroopers. They were also slow moving obsolete Stirling bombers with four engines pulling gliders filled with men and equipment. You could see the nylon tow rope coupling the two planes struggling to gain height. There was Spitfires, Typhoons, Mosquitoes and game changing Mustangs – an American airframe with a British engine with the range to escort B 17 Flying Fortresses to bomb Berlin and back.
Hitler had called off the cross Channel invasion of Britain in 1940 when he knew that Hermann Göringe’s Luffwafe was not going to defeat the RAF. D Day would have been impossible without Allied air superiority, The Allies flew 14,000 sorties on D Day – most of them it seemed to me over our garden. Prior to D Day, I had grown used to watching the white vapor trails of Flying Fortresses assembling in tight formation to bomb Germany by day, and British Lancaster heavy bombers leaving at dusk to attack by night. The painful, costly strategic bombing of Germany, especially when escorted by Mustangs, had worn down the German Luftwaffe. On D Day the Germans only managed a paltry 327 flights
We remember and honor the brave men who struggled up the beaches of Normandy on June 6th 75 years ago. We should also remember the brave men who fought in the skis above Nazi occupied Europe,
Between 2,500 and 4,4000 Allied troops and airmen died on D Day. There were about 40,000 hand gun deaths in the USA in 2108 – two thirds suicides. Guns saved lives and guns took lives on D Day. Perhaps we should use this 75th anniversary of D Day to think of ways to put our 2019 house in order. Lethal guns are not needed in 2019 in a country supposedly at peace.