2300: ‘I wish to God it were safely over’

The Final Embarkation: Four 'stick' commanders of 22nd Independent Parachute Company, British 6th Airborne Division,

The Final Embarkation: Four ‘stick’ commanders of 22nd Independent Parachute Company, British 6th Airborne Division, Four of the first Britsih troops to depart synchronising their watches in front of an Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle of No 38 Group, Royal Air Force, at about 11 pm on 5 June, just prior to take off from RAF Harwell, Oxfordshire.

These men from 22nd Independent Parachute Company pathfinder unit parachuted into Normandy in advance of the rest of the division in order to mark out the landing zones, and these officers, From left to right, – Lieutenants, Bobby de la Tour, Don Wells, John Vischer, Bob Midwood, were among the first Allied troops to land in France.

For a long time Alan Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, had been led to believe that he would be in command of Overlord. As a professional soldier it was a deeply held aspiration to lead the Allied forces back into France, from where he had been evacuated in 1940.

Eventually, as the US participation in Allied operations grew, Churchill had to tell him, in 1943, that it had become inevitable that an American commander would be appointed. He had nevertheless remained closely involved in the central Allied decision making.

His diary for the 5th June was not particularly optimistic:

A long Cabinet at which we were explained how troublesome de Gaulle is being now that he had been fetched back from Algiers! He is now refusing to broadcast unless Eisenhower alters the wording of his own broadcastll I knew he would be a pest and recommended strongly that he should be left in Africa, but Anthony Eden would insist on bringing him over!

It is very hard to believe that in a few hours the cross Channel invasion starts! I am very uneasy about the whole operation. At the best it will fall so very very far short of the expectation of the bulk of the people, namely all those who know nothing of its difficulties. At the worst it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war. I wish to God it were safely over.

See Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke at his desk at the War Office in London, 1942.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

ccg June 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Sounds a little like sour grapes

Editor June 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

I blame that one on Amazon

nitpicker June 6, 2014 at 12:20 am

Um, there’s only one “l” in “Marshal” ….

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