The Great Debate UK

D-Day Dispatch: The first reporter on the beach

“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory.” Dwight D Eisenhower, D- DAY – June 6, 1944

  <em>"Since before daybreak, bombers and fighters had cascaded their cargoes on German gun emplacements and pillboxes, scoured the skies for the Luftwaffe and probed ahead for tactical targets. This was war in its totality, theatrical and terrifying. The greatest combined operation in history was underway and this time, I was not just in the stalls but on the stage."</em>Doon Campbell, Reuters correspondent, ‘Magic Mistress – A 30 year affair with Reuters’</p><p> 

“Since before daybreak, bombers and fighters had cascaded their cargoes on German gun emplacements and pillboxes, scoured the skies for the Luftwaffe and probed ahead for tactical targets. This was war in its totality, theatrical and terrifying. The greatest combined operation in history was underway and this time, I was not just in the stalls but on the stage.”Doon Campbell, Reuters correspondent, ‘Magic Mistress – A 30 year affair with Reuters’

Seventy years ago, the Normandy landings, which began on D-Day ( June 6, 1944), marked  the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Codenamed  ‘Operation Neptune’, the Allies, under the supreme command of U.S. General Dwight D Eisenhower, regained a foothold in Western Europe. Many months would pass before Hitler committed suicide, but from this moment, the days of his ‘Third Reich’ were numbered.

Born with only half a left arm, Doon Campbell (pictured above), one of the Reuters D-Day correspondents, was ineligible to join the British forces. But with a name like ‘Doon’ he was almost predestined to opt for the next best thing – the ‘Boys Own Adventure’ career of a War Correspondent. At 24 years-old, he was not only the youngest British war correspondent covering the invasion, he was also the first reporter to set foot on the Normandy beaches with the sea-borne force.

September 1939 and the outbreak of war

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terrycharman- Terry Charman is Senior Historian at the Imperial  War Museum in London. He studied Modern History and Politics at the University of Reading and while there interviewed Adolf Hitler’s architect Albert Speer. He specializes in the political, diplomatic, social and cultural aspects of the World Wars, and wrote “The German Home Front 1939-1945″ and “Outbreak 1939: The World Goes To War“. He is curator of the exhibition Outbreak 1939 at the museum. The opinions expressed are his own. -

In September 1939, in marked contrast to August 1914, Britain went to war in a sombre mood of resigned acceptance of the inevitable. There was no Union Jack waving “hurrah” patriotism as there had been twenty-five years before. After Adolf Hitler had torn up the Munich Agreement in March 1939 and invaded the Czech lands, the British people recognized that appeasement had failed and that the German leader’s aggressive plans would have  to be stopped, and if necessary by force of arms.

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