I well remember how on the 22nd anniversary of D-Day, 6/6/66, my mother told me that on that day in 1944 she saw the skies of southern England turn black with aeroplanes. This was D-Day, the greatest naval operation and invasion, 6,000 vessels and 9,000 aircraft, of all time. Tens of thousands of young men were to die in the following three months, together with 20,000 French civilians, tragically killed, mainly by notoriously indiscriminate Allied bombing.
This Allied invasion did liberate Western Europe from the Nazis, a liberation which would have happened anyway, but by the Red Army. Instead of fighting its way from Stalingrad only to Berlin, it would instead inevitably have fought its way from Stalingrad to the shores of Normandy, no doubt by the early summer of 1945 after its conquest of Berlin in early May 1945. Thus, with D-Day, instead of being occupied by the red star of the Soviet Union (SU), Western Europe was occupied by the white star of the United States (US). The speed of Allied success after D-Day was greatly helped by the hugely successful Soviet Operation Bagration which began, as had been agreed in Teheran, on 22 June and greatly weakened Nazi resistance in Normandy. It can be said that the real political aim of D-Day for the US was, after having achieved its priority of domination of the Pacific, its desire to prevent the occupation of Western Europe by the victorious Soviet Union, which is why that invasion took place so late in the war.
Today, as Great Britain prepares to leave Western Europe through Brexit, pragmatically and warmly backed by the half-Scottish President Trump who has just visited London, we prepare not for an Anglo-American invasion of Western Europe, but for an Anglo-American retreat from Western Europe. Three generations have reversed the situation of 1944, but the old relationship has been renewed. What is to come is not sure, but the hand of history is upon us.
Southern England, 6 June 2019