7 June 2019

The war cemetery NormandyAs I drove home last night, the sound of a lone piper rang out through the radio in my car, the news covering the D-Day landing 75th anniversary.

Listening to the stories of the surviving veterans as they described men not even making it to shore under the weight of the kit on their backs and the overpowering waves, of the gunshots and noise like we’ve never heard since, there was no fighting back the tears in my eyes.

Many of these men were as young as the apprentices we employ here at UKFast. We call them men, but so many were just teenagers, youngsters who should be carving their way in the world. It is impossible to imagine the horrors that they went through in those days, many of them just 18 years old. The youngest surviving veteran, 90-year-old Jim Radford, was just 15 at the time.

We still don’t really know exactly how many soldiers lost their lives that day. I wonder if we ever will. Of those that survived their lives were, of course, changed forever.

Today is reminder to us, an opportunity to put things into perspective. The desperate situation that these men found themselves in, to shape the world we know today, is something that should never be forgotten or overlooked.

It is interesting that so many people took to social media yesterday to post about how we complain about things so frivolously now, we all live a life of real luxury in comparison. We live a worry-free life compared to that of the early 1940s.

I also read one post that stood out the most to me, it said that there’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, that’s what those men were fighting for 75 years ago. They fought and they sacrificed so that our generation’s men, women and children were free to live life on their own terms, and that’s what is happening today.

It’s a sacrifice that can never be repaid.

Harry Billinge, who was just 18 when he landed on the beaches in Normandy and is now 93, told BBC Breakfast: “My generation saved the world, and I’ll never forget any of them.”

He’s absolutely right, they saved our world, and we must never forget the sacrifices they made nor the horrors they went through to do so.

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