In every respect, D-Day was a catalogue of superlatives and an event that is hopefully never to be repeated. Most of those taking part in the landings were very young, but even in their numbers were veterans of earlier campaigns. It was to be a battle of three parts. The first ashore had to fight their way through determined German resistance. Casualties were very heavy and the Americans were almost thrown back into the sea.
NAME: Last Boat To Normandy, D-Day Landings – The Veteran’s Accounts
CLASSIFICATION: Video, DVD, reviews
PRESENTER(S): Dale Webb
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Digital
MEDIA: One DVD
FORMAT: Dual layer
RUNTIME: 60 minutes
PLAYERS: Personal Computer, Mac Computer, DVD Player
PRICE: GB £15.99
SUBJECT: D-Day, 6th of June, Normandy Invasion, Utah, Sword, Omaha, Juno, Gold, amphibious landings, Mulberry, Pluto
DESCRIPTION: The title may not be entirely accurate. With the last World War One survivors having passed on into history, World War Two veterans are now in their 80s, and 90s, with some having already reached their centenary. From now on their numbers will rapidly dwindle but increasing life expectancy and improved medical procedures may allow a larger number to be active for much longer than those who served in World War One. Nevertheless, the various veteran groups have begun to announce that their last commemorative visits to the Normandy battlefields have ended. Taking this reality, the film makers accompanied a group of veterans as they made their last formal visit and in that respect it was the Last Boat to Normandy. Since then, other groups and individual veterans have returned. In one visit in 2011, two old comrades met again by chance, having been separated on the first day of the invasion when one of them was seriously wounded. This DVD records the accounts by veterans as they travelled across the Channel and around the battlefields. It is a moving recording with the memories of these old soldiers, sailors and airmen as fresh and vivid to them now as the experiences were in 1944. They participated in the greatest invasion ever conducted. Many had trained together for more than two years and took with them new weapons and equipment developed for the special circumstances of the Normandy landings. To be able to land and then supply the beachhead, the Pluto underwater fuel pipeline was laid across to the beaches as the soldiers fought inland and cleared the beachhead. Great concrete caissons were towed across the Channel to form two pre-fabricated artificial harbours. A vast fleet of ships crossed to France, from the tiny Derby Class Motor Boats of the Army’s boats sections and the Royal Navy X-craft midget submarines, to the mighty battleships that provided heavy artillery cover. Included in the fleet were special landing craft and rocket ships, amphibious trucks and tanks. Above the invasion fleet an equally impressive force of aircraft provided air superiority, bombed targets to disrupt German defences and reinforcements, rocketed trains and dropped airborne troops to hold bridges inland from the beaches. In every respect, D-Day was a catalogue of superlatives and an event that is hopefully never to be repeated. Most of those taking part in the landings were very young, but even in their numbers were veterans of earlier campaigns. It was to be a battle of three parts. The first ashore had to fight their way through determined German resistance. Casualties were very heavy and the Americans were almost thrown back into the sea. Once the initial beachhead was established, the troops had to fight inland to protect their artificial harbours, beginning the long march to Germany and victory. To help this second stage of the battle, airborne troops had been landed to seize and hold bridges, denying the Germans reinforcements and securing the river crossings over which the invasion force would advance as it broke out of the beachhead. The third stage began as the first boats landed, by bringing in the supplies required by the huge invasion force. Food, fuel, ammunition, replacements for the early casualties, equipment flooded through the artificial ports, with a continuous shuttle of merchant ships and landing ships bringing this mountain of supplies across from the English ports. The veterans making a last crossing in commemoration are a very representative cross section of the personnel who took part in D-Day. Their collected accounts provide a unique and valuable picture seen through the eyes of those who participated. There is no academic interpretation to dilute the accounts and this record will provide first hand knowledge to later generations. This is a great tribute to the courage of all of those who took part in D-Day. A great value DVD filled with pride, modesty, emotion, comradeship.