Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: We owe much to the heroic men of Normandy




“In 1944 they welcomed us with an arm round the shoulder and by bringing the wine bottles out,” said Cecil Butters, 90, speaking 70 years after he landed on Sword Beach. “But this is a different kind of gratitude, because most of these people weren’t born in 1944. It is wonderful.”

There were many choking moments in yesterday’s coverage – the TV close-ups of veterans as they tried to keep their composure; their casual dismissal of extraordinary feats under fire; the mass singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”; the honour guard of Normandy locals who applauded them all the way from Bayeux Cathedral to the cemetery.

The day’s most charming story was that of the 89-year-old veteran who absconded from his nursing home in  East Sussex after staff said they couldn’t help him travel to France for the commemorations. On Thursday, Bernard Jordan, a former mayor of  Hove, who served with the Royal Navy  in Operation Overlord, left the home in a grey mack to go “for a walk”.  Unbeknownst to carers, he wore his jacket and campaign medals beneath, and boarded a coach to Normandy to join events on the beaches.

Yesterday’s most significant meeting was between Vladimir Putin – there in recognition of Soviet Russia’s central role in defeating Nazism – and the new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. They jointly called for an end to the bloodshed and will discuss a ceasefire in the coming days.

The Normandy landings, in driving back Nazism in Europe, became the cornerstone of our societies and politics; the eventual victory helping to change attitudes to class, gender and democracy. We live in a much less dangerous world, although one in which we must guard against the complacency of peace.

As for the men of Normandy: united are they in death, and we in gratitude.


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam