The French have been saying since before the end of World War II that they liberated themselves, now, 65 years on they have almost convinced themselves of the fact.
Buckingham Palace voiced anger last night after the French snubbed the Queen over next week’s D-Day commemorations.
Astonishing that the Head of State of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will not be present at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day. Especially considering that these nations made up the largest contingent of fighting men on the day.
Charles de Gaulle
It seems that France only recognises one other nation as having been there on D-Day, the USA.
It says: ‘Surrounded by French and American veterans, the presidents Obama and Sarkozy will pay homage to the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on the Normandy beaches in their fight for liberty.’
Some 6,000 Americans were killed, 4,000 British and Canadians. The French, despite it being a liberation of their nation, barely took part in the Normandy Landings. Of the 150,000 troops that landed on the beaches; about 60,000 were British, 70,000 Americans, 20,000 Canadians.
That of course is not the picture that they like to paint of the end of World War II. De Gaulle himself said after the liberation of Paris:
“We are back home in Paris which is on its feet to liberate itself and which has been able to achieve it singlehanded.”
And so it began; apparently the French liberated Paris, and probably the rest of France single handed. Churchill should have pulled us out when he heard the speech and left the great general de Gaulle to finish off the Germans.
This latest snub just shows the contempt the French have for everyone that aided them during WWII and I shouldn’t really be surprised at their ungratefulness. I should be pleased that at least they are acknowledging the American presence that day.
Only in the movies
Having said that the Americans are just as bad when remembering the rest of the Allies. Most war movies and dramatisations of WWII rarely, if ever, mention, let alone feature any non-Americans.
One of the most famous war films of recent times, Saving Private Ryan, made no mention of any other Allied forces, and even cut the British ships that the protagonists from the 2nd Rangers departed from, out of the film entirely, replacing them with US ships.
Not to mention U-571, which depicted US sailors capturing a German submarine and cracking the enigma code; when in reality the capture had been done by British sailors in 1941 and the cracking of the code by British code breakers at Bletchley, before the Americans had entered the war.
The screenwriter did later admit:
“It was a distortion…a mercenary decision…to create this parallel history in order to drive the movie for an American audience. Both my grandparents were officers in World War II, and I would be personally offended if somebody distorted their achievements.”
This isn’t helped by the fact that us British rarely seem to protest about such things, as if our Government is ashamed of our history and would rather it all was re-written.
I am sure that many American, British and Canadian kids grow up thinking that WWII was a war between the US and Germany. Indeed, I have lost count of the times that I have heard Americans say things like ‘We’ve saved Europe’s ass…twice!’ But us Brits have got used to it.
This is probably compounded by the dire British education system that rarely, if ever, likes to teach about British victories.
But their is more to this that than the American movies or French ungratefulness. The French hate the British, pure and simple, and there is no love lost the other way either. In their hatred the French have lumped the Canadians in with the British, and probably would the Americans too, if Sarkozy didn’t need the Americans.
It also seems that the French hatred of Monarchy and it’s connotations doesn’t stop them being sycophantic.
France’s equivalent of BBC1 plans blanket coverage in a day-long programme called Barack Obama On The Invasion Beaches.
A whole day about President Obama, surely the day should be about those that gave their lives? And that is what really saddens me, it is the men that fought there, and the families of the heroes that died there that really feel this slap in the face.
A French government source said: ‘There were never any plans to invite members of the British Royal Family, although an invitation has been extended to Gordon Brown after he said he wanted to come.
There was never any plans to invite the British and Canadian Head of State to commemorate when British, Canadian and US troops saved France from the Germans whilst the French sat idly by?
These men fought for King and Country; their country has all but forgotten about them, and now their Queen cannot be there to honour them.
‘The veterans have immense respect for her and feel a very special bond. The fact that she took the salute at Arromanches at the 60th anniversary was very special to them.’
But it is clear what they think of Brown.
‘[it] wouldn’t make a scrap of difference’ to most veterans whether the Prime Minister turned up or not.
Which sounds about right, no-one likes Brown. I only hope the Queen or a high ranking Royals does attend, as it is the least that these men deserve.
As for Brown:
A spokesman said: ‘This is an event organised by the French government. It is for them to issue invitations. The Prime Minister is pleased to have been invited and hopes to attend.’
Hopes to attend? So he may not even bother! Then again would it matter if he did?
Something tells me he won’t bother, after all he likes to be at the centre of things to massage his ego and apparently:
‘He will, of course, be concentrating on the British commemorations, away from the American beaches, as is appropriate. This is very much a Franco-American occasion.’
So Brown isn’t really invited to the main party, just the sideshow. From the looks of things there will be no official British representation and few British veterans as they were initially told not to go.
We should remember this, and next time leave the ungrateful French to their invincible Maginot Lines and great generals. As the Americans say, we saved their asses twice, the question is, why?