History

Thoughts on D-Day

Another D-Day and Canadian soldiers wading into the surf against German gunfire. I’ve seen the pictures before, indeed, the landing craft doors opening and the beachfront houses are as familiar as my own house. And yet, my view might have been so different.

I was three years old on June 6, 1944 and living in Trinidad, B.W.I., incredibly enough, with my missionary parents. D-Day was just another day in Paradise for me.

And my mother; what did she think? Her maiden name was German, her ancestors emigrated to Canada from Pennsylvania, so both Y.E.L and Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsche. She spoke German, not to me, but to her father.

Mom visited Germany in 1935 or 1936 and worked in a kinderkrippe. Almost the only thing she mentioned to me about that experience was that German officers on the train, with their grey uniforms and pink collar tabs, looked very handsome.

Presumably, this was a particular German officer and, and with pink tabs, a general staff officer at that. Presumably they got into a conversation.

What if that conversation had gone a little further, and then a lot further? What then? I might have been German too. Now seven years old, looking up, not at Frigatebirds but at American B-17’s, on their way to Berlin or the Ruhr to drop their deadly cargos. Unlikely?

Perhaps not. When my parents divorced, my mother moved to the United States. There, at a religious retreat, she met a charming German immigrant, and former German soldier, who had been damaged by his experiences in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. They married. I was at the wedding.

So, as I say, another D-Day viewed from the beach when it could, easily, have been another day viewed from a bunker, in Signal magazine or another newsreel, now long forgotten.

 

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