D-Day Celebrations ?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Maurice McCone, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi

    I am watching the TV coverage in the UK for the various celebrations and commemorations for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

    I was wondering how extensively this was being covered in the USA and other countries ?

    The BBC in true professional style have been telling the stories and showing locations of the mini battles fought by ALL of the allies ie they have just covered the re-enactement of the 101st Airbourne at St Mare Eglise....

    Have the US networks covered the stories of the Brits and Canadians landing at Pagasus bridge, Gold , Sword and Juno beaches?

    Many of us in the UK feel that the British and Canadian efforts on D-Day have been played down in recent years and particularly by hollywood (ie Saving Private Ryan's disgraceful throw-away comment about Monty); and would hope that the affort by all of the allies is being told today...

    As well watching the extensive TV coverage - I wonder how many of you like me have revisited parts of their DVD collection this weekend ? I have watched SPR, The Longest Day and will watch Band of Brothers again.

    The events remmembered today are very moving , especially hearing the veterans telling their individual stories. I just feel we owe them so much.
     
  2. Chuck_W

    Chuck_W Second Unit

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    Most of the shows I've been watching here in the states concentrate largely on the American contributions to the invasion, with small mention of the British and Canadian. I have seen some specials that have interviews with British tankers, infantry, and special operatives who took part in the recon of the beaches before D-Day.

    This is not to say there is not more coverage of the British and Canadian contributions on TV here...just not much in the shows I have been able to view.

    How is Monty regarded in the UK? How is he seen in comparison to Churchill or Dowding or Leigh-Mallory? (speaking of which, I'm still quite jealous over your new release of the Battle of Britain in 5.1).

    Glad you reminded me of Pegasus Bridge...I've been meaning to pick-up a book on that.
     
  3. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    thanks for the reply, it is dispointing that there is little coverage of the rest of the allies - the BBC and other stations in the UK have covered the whole story. There was an article in the press here which was critical of the D-Day museum in New Orleans, I believe this was set up by Stephen Ambrose with funding Spielberg and others? - the criticism was that there was so little reference to the Brit Canadian and even French efforts on D-Day.

    To answer your question on Monty - there is universal disgust at the way he was treated in Saving Private Ryan (I still love the film btw) and other negative references in the , it has to be said, by mainly american critics.

    Supporters point out that Monty had a track record of already defeating Rommel on a number of occasions, and through Sicily.

    Also that D-Day was under the direct control of Monty. It was primarily his planning. Add to this the fact that there the Brits attacked two beaches of their own, to more success, and that 80 % of the air and navy support on D-Day was provided by the Brits - leaving us out of the commemorations appears rude to say the least !

    Monty was criticised for being slow to take Caen and for progress in the breakout from Normandy whilst General Patton made speedy progress.

    Hoever, this ignores the fact that Monty's British troops faced the only Panzer division on D-Day, and defeated them. The push on Caen and westards for the British involved going through the greatest concentration of German troops in Northern France.
    Patton great armoured rush, simply captured land, he didn't face the same resistance.

    Monty took flack for the Arnhem landings, but noone really attributes the failure directly to him. It was a bold move which hit damn bad luck at the crucial stage.

    The Germans believed Monty to be the stronger General. When they planned their Ardenne offensive - they chose to attack the weaker American troops rather than the stronger British forces under Monty to the North.

    Not trying to stir things up here - however, there has clearly been some unfair re-writing of history - in particular the destruction of Monty's reputation, he remains loved by his troops and respected by a nation.

    I do hope that the media over there do tell the story of the tens of thousands of British and Canadian veterans and their equal contribution.

    You are right about the Pegasus bridge attack - a great successful story and crucial to the day.
     
  4. Claude M

    Claude M Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Without commenting on Montgomery one way or another, I would observe that there has been some considerable comment on him as a commander and person over the years by many who are far more qualified to comment than a Hollywood screenwriter.

    For starters such commanders as Bradley and Patton (who especially would not stand up under scrutiny very well, himself) have written their views and quoted others such as Ike in their works.

    It is also possible to read observations as to Montgomery’s merits from more disinterested historians, not all of who are likely as skewed in their views as the citizens of a grateful nation.

    Additionally it turns out that some of his success in North Africa was the result of superior intelligence due to code-breaking. Of course he still had to pull off the victories, but for many years Monty was given perhaps more credit than he deserved in this area.

    To be sure, Americans tend to way overemphasize their importance in winning the war—and probably give the least credit to the Russians. But this does not mean that some reasoned criticism of Montgomery is not justified and accurate, even if it did come from this side of the Atlantic.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    Just to augment rather than amend Maurice's comments on Monty. He suffered a lowering in prestige in the UK in his later life (Brits have a depressing capacity to turn on anyone successful), but since then his reputation has recovered, and he's now recognised for what he was - a great general.

    Montgomery was often criticised for not acting 'quickly'. The reality was that he would sooner wait until he was as certain as he could be of minimising the casualties on his own side. He also made sure of visiting as many units as possible before battle and talking not the officers but the ordinary foot soldiers. He may appear something of an upper class twit in the surviving movies of him but he deeply cared about his men.

    Back on topic. I think it's also worth stating that the Brit media have covered the American contribution and the relative ease of the Brit/Commonwealth landings are usually contrasted with the enormous losses by the Americans. However, I don't want to stir things up, but Brit historians do point out that casualties on the American beaches could have been lowered drastically if the Americans had heeded British intelligence reports on the strength of the defences and made use of the British-invented 'Funnies' (the adapted tanks that cleared a path through the minefields and barbed wire). Instead, they were dismissed as Brit eccentricities.

    Personally, I don't blame the USA concentrating on the American contribution. Although in the long run it was in the USA's interest to intervene, I think as an American I would have found it emotionally difficult to support entering into a European war, and so focusing on the wider picture isn't necessarily easy, I guess. And in the long run, isn't a good thing that our memories of what a world war was about are getting more and more remote?
     
  7. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    Lew, many would feel that criticism from Patten was tinged with more than a little jealousy, afterall it was Monty who had been given overall command of the land forces on D-Day not him. It would surely be fair to say, the successes of D-Day are surely as much attributable to Monty as say the failures of Market Garden ?

    Andrew makes an important point about the mis perception of Monty by American Generals in terms of him being too slow or cautious. It must be remembered that Monty learned in WW1 the cost of impetuous behaviour and bad Generalship. He therefore insisted upon over training his men and taking the safest possible route. The Americans had not faced massive losses in Western Europe in the war to date and were perhaps forgetful of those who had.

    One fascinating and moving interview earlier on the BBC was with the actor Richard Todd, many may know already that he fought on Pegasus bridge with the Paras, under Major John Howard - the very man he played in the same action in The Longest Day!

    I regret the failure to tell the full part played by ALL the allies on D-Day; I regret it when people of my own age (42) in the UK fail to understand the sacrifices made, I would hope that we all take the opportunity to watch and encourage others to watch this weekend.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Although America entered that war late, you are likely aware that Patton commanded a tank brigade (under Pershing) during WWI and suffered a near-fatal wound.

    Regardless of personal or professional jealously, one can’t so easily dismiss criticisms of Monty’s caution (in this case) as uninformed impetuosity. Besides, generals who fight the last war are often later viewed as having grievously erred.

    But all of this is beside the point. It is time to consider the brave men who spearheaded the invasion. Regardless of nationality.
     
  9. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    I'm 38 and I understand. That would probably make me an exception to the rule even here in Canada where so many of our young men went overseas to fight alongside your troops. I don't know why so many people today tend to forget their history or the sacrifices made by so many, but that's an unfortunate reality.

    Here in Canada, the CBC had plenty of news specials on this weekend's events. I just watched the Queen on one of her walk-abouts during the Canadian ceremonies talking to veterans in both English and French. Of all the world dignitaries present at all the ceremonies, she's the most qualified to be in the presence of veterans. She was old enough to understand what was happening around her during World War II.

    After the walk-about, the veterans walked down to Juno Beach for a few moments by themselves, being saluted and thanked by the local inhabitants as well as dignitaries and invited guests.
     

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