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D-Day commemorations ignore our reliance on the Middle East

3 18 0

Roosevelt, Churchill and the representatives of Russia and China signed the UN Declaration on New Year’s Day 1942, two and a half years before D-Day. After that, those words “United Nations” became the formal name under which the Allies were fighting Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Japan.

The declaration, which would cover the aims of the June 6 1944 landings, declared that victory was “essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice”. It also supposedly – and very significantly – upheld the Wilsonian “principles of self-determination”.

I’m old enough to have met the soldiers of the First World War – at Ypres in the late fifties with my 1918 veteran Dad, when the men of Passchendaele returned to their former battlefields on holiday. And later I met, on my own Normandy holidays, the men of D-Day.

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Their stories didn’t always match up with what we hear today. The 1914-18 men talked not so much about dead friends and trench-rats and stupid British generals – though that threaded through their conversations – but about their outrage at the German invasion and plunder of Belgium. They spoke rather like the Americans I heard after 9/11.

And several of the D-Day men thought that the date of June 1944, far from being a tactical operational necessity was a political strategy – because if the Brits and Americans didn’t get a move on, the victorious Red Army would soon be sunbathing on the beaches of Spain.

And it’s not just because I’m writing this article in Beirut, but whenever I contemplate D-Day and the Second World War today, I think more and more of the Middle East.

The first great European War, of course, gave us the........

© Independent