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British role in liberation

Connexion reader Catherine Piper explains how there has been a misunderstanding over British role in liberation.

THE column by Peter Forster in your D-Day commemorative issue (Connexion, June) was very timely but printing it in English in an English-language newspaper was perhaps “preaching to the converted”.

I have just returned from a visit to Ouistreham in Normandy with my husband who is a veteran submariner and a member of the France-Nord branch of the Royal Naval Association. We were supporting our standard bearers who perform a wreath-laying ceremony every June 6 and Armistice Day at the memorial for the hundreds of British and several Free French Commandos who arrived there.

Our reception there is always warm and friendly and my husband, now 92 years old with 11 campaign medals, is interviewed, photographed and thanked frequently for their liberation by bystanders.

However his return to Saint Malo in Brittany was a different matter and his appearance was viewed with an amused lack of comprehension.
Did they think he was in fancy dress? People in most parts of Brittany seem not to understand that the Americans did not win the war – although they were assigned to the liberation of Brittany while British troops with French, Canadian, American and other nationalities continued the fight in Normandy and throughout France into Germany for several months longer and sustained heavy losses to complete the liberation of France, as well as Belgium and Holland.
Would it be possible to translate Mr Forster’s column into French and have it published in French newspapers?

Catherine Piper, By email

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