Sunday the 6th. of June 2004. The 60th. Anniversary of the D Day landings
General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Allied Supreme Commander on the 6th. of June 1944, told his troops: " You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven for these many months. The eyes of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you".
Troops wade ashore on the 6th. of June 1944. D Day
On this day some 60 years ago something like 156.000 men within that number were about 2,600 Australians, a few of whom have returned to the coast of Normandy to remember. Ten Australians will also be honoured by the French Government with the award of the Legion of Honour at ceremonies both in France and in Australia.
The invasion forces, struggling in the surf, fighting the barbed wire, mines, and enemy fire, were the vanguard of 2 million to land in Europe, to at last cast off the Nazi yoke that had so heavily rested upon countries and their population for so many years.
Freedom at last was at hand.
The invasion was a success, and Germany at last surrendered, it was all over in Europe. Attention now moved to the Pacific and the task of defeating Japan.
Landings in the Philippines at Leyte Gulf, and in early 1945, at Lingayen in the north of that country laid the foundations for defeating the Japanese.
The dropping of two atomic bombs, a brave decision made by the new US President Harry Truman, finished them off, and the Japanese finally gave up, the historic signing of surrender documents, took place aboard the mighty US Navy battleship Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, on the morning of the 2nd. of September 1945, and I was present in HMAS Shropshire.
Six years of devasting war were at long, long, last, finally concluded.
The war against terrorism.
The fight continues, and it does not look like ending in the forseeable future. But, today we pause to give thanks to those who relit the light of freedom in Europe sixty years ago.