Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 6, 1944

This year's commemoration of the World War Two invasion of Normandy (June 6, 1944) was billed as a "Franco-American ceremony." This offended British and Canadian sensibilities. Letters to The Globe and Mail pointed out Canada's contribution which included 14,000 soldiers who landed that day. My letter described the French contribution. Alas, only the final sentence was published.

Your editorial (Not Franco-American, June 2) is too kind to the French.

There were far more Polish troops attached to the Canadian army in the Normandy invasion than French with their 177 green berets. French troops did not land in Normandy until August 18. By that time, Canadian, British and American forces were well inland. Yet, the monument where the Canadians and Poles landed on June 6 reads (French first): This is the place where the French and their allies began the liberation of Europe.

Conveniently overlooked in this piece of mis-history was the fact that the Soviet army had earlier begun the de-Nazification of Europe on the eastern front, while American, British and Canadian forces were already chasing the German army up the boot of Italy in a horrendous campaign.

Perhaps the insult in not inviting the Queen, or Canadians, or Poles, was due to Winston Churchill who said to his associates in World War One, "Remember, gentlemen, it is not just France we are fighting for, it's for Champagne."

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