D-Day minus Trump - by Duncan Harley

The Normandy Landings, more commonly referred to as D-Day, took place on 6 June 1944. The term D-Day is of course military-speak for the jumping-off date for any military operation.
Timed to the minute, large scale military interventions rely on precise timing in order to coordinate both the delivery of firepower and the delivery of the necessities of warfare.

The D simply stands for "day" and the designation traditionally marks day one of manoeuvres. Thus, the day before June 6, 1944, was known as D-1, invasion day was highlighted as D-Day and the subsequent days are described as D+1, D+2, D+3 and so on. Today is 4 June 2019 so by definition we are now at D+27,391.

Mind you, the 1944 invasion planning had begun some months if not years before and were it not for a break in the weather, the landings might have been delayed by weeks. But, apart from losing the element of surprise, the planning would simply have been delayed by D+10 or even D+30 and the carefully worked out timetable would at least in theory still be valid or at worst retrievable as a sort of ‘D-Day 2am - send in the guys in green. D-Day 3am- send in medics. D-Day 4am – send in more guys in green. D-Day 5am, more medics please … etc.’

So, Trump’s planned celebration of the invasion of Europe, scheduled for 5 June, is actually scheduled for D-1 since the actual landing’s did not take place until 6 June. Yes, it gets complicated – and it might be feasible to align the Presidential D-Day celebrations with the embarkation of the various fleets. But, and perhaps more likely, the President’s men simply adhere to a less than historic planning timeline.

So, D-Day occurs on any day in June according to the incumbent Trump’s schedule and largely ignores history. ‘Hey guys, can’t make the 6 June due to a prior engagement. Can we meet at Portsmouth on the 5th please, sometime around 9am and bring burgers?’

I suppose it must have been a funny old war though.

Several uncles were sent abroad. One to Libya, where he drove a jeep. Another to India, where he was in charge of a supply depot. A neighbour across the street was a Chindit and taught Ghurkha’s how to play the pipes and the man @ number 24 flew a Hurricane in the desert.
My mum recalled working on something called Chain-Home. Stationed in Orkney, she was charged with aiding and abetting the coastal air-defences. When asked, she recalled that she had only once spotted what might have been enemy aircraft approaching the Scottish coastline. She recalled phoning the officer in charge – a sergeant – to advise him of the event only to be told that there was nothing much to be done since the radar-blip had already whizzed past the range of local fighter aircraft.

She never recalled doing much more of any importance during the war apart from escorting a badly burned pilot on a flight from Orkney to Leuchars. ‘We were told to keep him quiet and to apply olive oil to his wounds’ she later recalled. ‘At the time we never questioned it, but in later years I recalled his screams when we applied it. Nowadays, the medical advice might be quite different.’

My dad on the other hand worked on bombers and took his camera into the skies. I still have it – a little Ensign Midget 25/100 miniature complete with bellows. The taking of images by service personnel was of course banned, but hey – if you are about to die whose counting. In truth of course he only flew on proving flights. As an engineer he maintained the machines and his flights were mostly clandestine although there was an unwritten RAF expectation that the ground-crews should randomly accompany aircrew during flight testing to ensure a high standard of work.

Anyway, back to Trump. There is no special reason as to why the Presidential visit could not have taken in the actual 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. After all, some million of his fellow-countrymen adhered to the invasion timetable on that difficult day 75 years ago. And some 6k of them died on the beaches on June 6 1944 – on the actual designated D-Day.

Images and words © Duncan Harley


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