It’s a public holiday here in the UK to commemorate victory in Europe 75 years ago, in 1945. On this day the allies formally accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany after a long and brutal war in which millions lost their lives.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had a few books on a couple of aspects of WWII. All of them were via the Kindle Daily Deal, whereby you can buy an ebook for 99p for a day only. Two were by the author Ben McIntyre about espionage and how various campaigns helped the allies gain strategic advantage. One in particular was Operation Fortitude that ‘turned’ all the German operators in the UK into double agents and successfully drip fed information via them to the German high command. Essentially, they managed to convince Rommel and Hitler that the main invasion force in 1944 would land in the Pas de Calais, – straight across the Channel from SE England and not in Normandy where they actually landed. It was part of a much larger operation that also included fake tanks massed in the Kent countryside and increased wireless traffic over the area to simulate the movements of thousands of troops getting ready for invasion. The real troop movements were of course further west in preparation for embarkation from Portsmouth.
The final book I’m still reading is by Max Hastings who famously walked into Port Stanley with the troops as they took back control of the Falkland islands in the war in 1982. It covers the Normandy landings followed by the ferocious fight to break out of their bridgehead in the following weeks. It’s an interesting book and has the benefit of being able to look back at the situation with clarity, hindsight and an overview of the situation that even the most senior commanders wouldn’t have had at the time. What is clear is that although it can be said the WWII was probably the easiest war to justify it was bloody and vicious. Although I can sit here with the benefit of 75 years of peace since then, you can still say that war is a hideous way to resolve any sort of disagreement. I do in some way find the whole jingoism of some of the VE day celebrations to be out of kilter with what should I think be profound sorrow and a feeling of Never Again. Lets celebrate the start of the Peace and be thankful.