You know, I’ve been so busy today that I totally forgot that it’s the 6th of June. I spent a lot of time on the Normandy beaches as a child with my family (I grew up in France) collecting shrapnel, bits of cartridge casings and so on. It’s a testimony to the intensity of the combat that metal artifacts were still on the ground thirty years later…
I’ve often spent time imagining what it would have been like to have to get out of one of those landing crafts, and am grateful for the people who did. I think it’s worth remembering if possible. The Guardian has had a couple of good articles on the subject recently, in particular a piece on June 1 about Company A, 116th Infantry landing at Omaha–very very few survived that first wave.
Today’s piece is an Obituary of Doon Campbell, the first allied war reporter ashore on D-day who died on 26.
Not only was Doon, who has died aged 83, the first war reporter of any allied nation to make it ashore that day, at the age of 24 he was also the youngest. One-armed from birth, he struggled out of the water and across “a sandy cemetery of the unburied dead, where bodies lay scattered with arms or legs severed”, and dived into a gash in the earth to begin a dispatch famously datelined: “A ditch 200 yards inside Normandy”. Doon’s reports were rushed back across the Channel by navy dispatch boat, and from that time his determination to be first with the news started to make him something of a legend at Reuters.