Belfast Telegraph

Our debt to heroes of D-Day

Editor's Viewpoint

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings which were one of the pivotal points leading to the Allied victory during the Second World War.

Many thousands of brave servicemen gave their lives or were injured, and their sacrifice and achievements are rightly being honoured.

The men who embarked on that dangerous but vitally necessary campaign were the last of a remarkable generation, and it is important that we remember this and other significant anniversaries.

The background to the D-Day operation is recalled in today's Belfast Telegraph by the former RAF pilot Bill Eames who tells how he helped to transport troops to the scene, and in doing so encountered great dangers.

Now 91 years of age, his clear recall of events in June 1944 is as impressive as his modesty, and this is a quality which is evident in many men of his generation.

They are particularly impressive because of the way they actually tell their stories.

There is no claim to be 'war-heroes', but only a careful recollection of events in such a matter-of-fact way that greatly adds to the drama of what took place.

There is even a hint of excitement in Bill Eames' account of brave young men facing the unexpected, and carrying out their orders whatever the consequences.

Significantly, there is no attempt to boast about their deeds, but just a straightforward description of the horrors of that time, which required a degree of bravery which we can only guess at today.

In an age like ours where the complaints of so many people and their moans rise higher and higher, and where there is such a widespread and false sense of entitlement, the stories of Bill Eames and his comrades serves as an important symbol and reminder of past values that we dare not lose today.

It is also fitting that the Queen, who experienced the realities of the Second World War at first hand, is presently in France to add her unique and important personal dimension to an act of honouring those service personnel whose dedication to duty and supreme courage should never be forgotten.

The 70th anniversary of D-Day serves to remind us all of the powerful response of those who set out to destroy one of the most despicable regimes in history, and also to underline that good can triumph over evil in the long run.

Belfast Telegraph

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