Harry Billinge and the new Gold Beach Memorial

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by bamboo43, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    But creating a special memorial to commemorate just some people who served in WW2 does just that.

    Everyone who fell is already commemorated. The people singled out for special treatment are the missing, out of respect relatives who have no graves where they can find closure. That is why we hold out national commemorations at these memorials, which are built at sites of significance on the major overseas campaigns.

    Sure, by all means erect monuments and interpretation boards where stories are not already told. The British story in Normandy is not well supported by interpretation or memorials. The battlefield between Caen and Falaise seems to have been given up to the Canadians. There is no British memorial or interpretation at Lambert-sur-Dives, where British troops played a big part in the destruction of the encircled Germans and closing the Falaise Pocket. There is little interpretation to inform visitors of the bitter battle for Tilly-sur-Suelles, the month long struggle at Hill 112, Apart from Sidney Bates there is little to tell of Op Bluecoat or the capture of Mount Pincon. There is nothing to tell of the battle for Pont l'Eveque by the paras or the Seine crossing. There are places crying out for investment to tell the story of British servicemen. But this is not big or focused enough is it?

    Nor is there any memorial or interpretation to support the other big battle of Summer 1944, the defence of the UK against the V weapons. 50,000 men and women of AA Command as well as the RAF and USAAF have no commemoration or interpretation.

    Sorry, but the Normandy Memorial stinks of self importance. It is a project built around a nexus of public enthusiasm for commemoration, sentimental support for old guys who believe that their campaign deserves special recognition and a pile of LIBOR cash.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Gosh! Heady stuff. I do, of course, fundamentally disagree with most of what you say. I actually find your language 'old guys' offensive....and you should properly research your comments re, for example, Tilly sur Seulles: that battle is very well explained in numerous books by Stephane Jacquet and others and at the superb little Museum in Tilly and, as a final point it's something with a family connection - my late father was in the Regiment that finally liberated Tilly (my avatar is the clue) - so I do know what I'm talking about. Rant over.
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    We may need to agree to disagree.

    If the battles for Tilly are well served by a single museum and some books, the British landings are excellently commemorated already with half a dozen musuems from Caen to Arromanches via Bayeux! Nor is a museum the same as battlefield interpretation. There is nothing comparable to the Canadian interpretation sites at May-sur-Orne or Lambert-sur-Dives.

    A programme to develop local memorials and interpretation with the local communes is far more worthy of public money and charitable donations. Everywhere I have traveled in France, I have found communities who value their liberation and cherish the links with between their commune and the descendants of their liberators. While the veterans were alive they would return and maintain the story. When they are gone, who maintains that link? It would be a good thing to spread our remembrance tourism across the Normandy area, rather than a single memorial in an area already full of memorials. It would help those communities too to spread the tourist Euro.
    bexley84 likes this.
  4. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    I was lucky to visit the Normandy memorial site last year, merely by chance. I came away quite impressed.
    I feel that it's a good thing that the memorial is happening but very sad that it's a bit late in the day. So many of the veterans are no longer with us. Wouldn't it have been nice if it had been there say in 1994 or 2004? But we are where we are.

    As to whether they have decided on the right cut off date for inclusions I don't know, or even if I I'm qualified to comment on that but there has to be a cut off point somewhere.

    As for Harry Billinge and others of his like him, marvellous.

    Digressing perhaps, It grates with me that people like him have to witness protesters trying to set light to Standards at the Cenotaph and spray painting Winston Churchill's statue this weekend in 'peaceful' demonstrations for coloured people's rights. The men who landed at Normandy were the generation who gave us the freedom for those to go out there and do such things.

    But back to memorials and member Shledrakes thoughts. Perhaps if you feel so strongly about some of the things written about in your posts you could set yourself a goal to try and make other memorials happen? It's not impossible to achieve, but it involves hard work and is time consuming. But it can be done.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  5. sheila and richard

    sheila and richard Well-Known Member

    Couldn't agree more Stan, Dizzy echoed the same sentiments to me yesterday, it is not impossible, as you say Stan, to achieve the goal of making other memorials to happen, just a question of extreme hard work and dedication and commitment to the cause for many years and that's getting it done in an allied country, what it may be like to replicate similar memorial in other places in the world is a different matter, and probably why it has not been done as the case in Normandy, even though that's late in the day.

    Regards dizzy and she
  6. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    "Now I'm totally confused - the Memorial contains the names of all those British (that's my understanding ) casualties as that's the whole point of the project. Are you saying that's not the case; if you are then I agree there are serious concerns?"

    The Memorial does not contain the names of all British casualties.

    I know, as I've a list of casualties which are not to be included. I remain deeply unhappy about this but there's minimal recourse, for now at least, as the entire Trust would have to shift their leviathanic bulk, and given massive cost overruns, delayed opening and assorted shenigans I have no faith in them being able to get out of a paper bag. This stems from a flawed interpretation of the campaign, and reliance on one researcher's model. There are other questions about how much those involved understood (and indeed still do) about the Normandy campaign from the start.

    [Now to segway off topic]

    Also in regards to Normandy, interpretation as a whole is very, very poor in British sector and in places we have memorials to Canadians when Brits liberated them.

    This was highlighted by a mate and his dad, two very knowledgeable sorts who went out there and basically wasted five days as there is no tied together route/narrative/interpretation. Liberation Route Europe seems to be attempting something along these lines, but its more moving plant pots as I understand it.

    We don't need more memorials in Normandy.

    What we desperately need is better interpretation as often enough you can't tell what the naff happened.*

    *This is my hill and I am willing to die on it.

    [Edit: Digressing perhaps, It grates with me that people like him have to witness protesters trying to set light to Standards at the Cenotaph and spray painting Winston Churchill's statue this weekend in 'peaceful' demonstrations for coloured people's rights. The men who landed at Normandy were the generation who gave us the freedom for those to go out there and do such things.

    Seriously? Since when has that phrase been remotely acceptable in the last 60 years? Sort it out.]
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
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  7. STAN50

    STAN50 Senior Member

    FAO Member 'Swiper,' Don't be a smart arse, you know what I meant.
  8. Grasmere

    Grasmere Active Member

    When Harry had the video call from Alan Neades, the 77 year old son of Joseph Neades, who was only a baby when his father died at Normandy, he gave him a poignant, touching first hand account of being with his father when he died. Harry said that Joe died in his arms and he held his hand and said a prayer with him. Alan had no memory of his father being so young when he died, but Harry was able to provide him with one. Not many veterans get the opportunity to do that, and he has done Alan a great service by doing so.
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