Anniversary of D-Day Invasion

I know this sounds lazy, and it may very well be, but the post I did last year for the anniversary of D-Day still sounds right to me. I would just like to add that the D-Day invasion was not just or mostly performed by Americans. Brave men from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Poland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands,  and Norway (and I’m certain others that I don’t know about) all faced down the fires of hell for us. So here it is again:

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“… I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.” Ernie Pyle, June 12, 1944

On June 6th, 1944, Operation Overlord, the start of the invasion of German-occupied France, began. In one night and a day, 175,000 fighting men traversed the one hundred nautical miles of the English Channel and landed upon the beaches of Normandy. Transported with them were 50,000 vehicles on 5,333 ships supported by 11,000 airplanes. Stephen Ambrose states that it was as if the entire cities of Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin were picked up and moved, every man, woman, child and automobile, to the east side of Lake Michigan, in one night. Most were not professional soldiers, they were kids that had signed up after Pearl Harbor or were drafted. They were citizen soldiers, folks like us, personally unacquainted with violent death. That did not last. Company A of the 116th Regiment, the first ashore at Omaha, suffered over 90 percent casualties.

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The beaches bristled with obstacles, mines, mortars, machine guns and artillery like the dreaded 88mm cannon that had been adapted to almost every conceivable use from shelling infantry positions to antiaircraft fire. Rommel had  designed the defenses and he did his job well.

I have stood on Omaha beach. It is broad and flat and the idea of stumbling ashore weighted down with gear, bullets whizzing by like bumblebees, blood splattering the air and soaking the water, and people screaming all around is beyond my poor ability to comprehend and I have a pretty good imagination. I have stood at Pointe du Hoc and wondered just how in the world the Rangers climbed that vertical cliff face under fire. I have stood in front of the monument to the missing at Omaha, seen my own name carved in the stone and wondered what happened to my namesake.

It is beyond imagining.

So as the 6th passes by, please take a moment to remember. Remember the terrible sacrifices of very brave men for the simple principle of freedom, the ability to speak your mind and go where you choose. It is good that we are reminded from time to time of just how important that is.

 

 

Post A to Z follow up

I’d like to take this post to expressly thank everyone who read my little scribblings. When I’m safe and secure in my little writer’s garret my ideas feel great, but out in the open where the light of reality shines bright I’m afraid they’ll wilt like an orchid stuck in the Sahara. Roweee, a lovely blogger at beyondtheflow.wordpress.com, suggested that I follow up the challenge by listing my a-to-z posts so folks, especially new visitors I guess, can have a synopsis of the subjects I’ve covered. I think this is a great idea, so here goes:

A – A is for Anchor (or how to keep things in one place without really trying)

B – B is for Boat (a hole in the water in which you pour money, or ‘I really need this gadget for the boat, I really do!’)

C – C is for Circumnavigation (or round and round we go,  no matter how old we are)

D – D is for Dinghy (or the biggest little dinghy in the Navy)

E – E is for Engine (or how I make this damn thing go faster?)

F – F is for Fire and Fire Extinguishing (or how do I put this damn thing out?)

G – G is for Grog (or how else are we going to keep our spirits up?)

H – H is for Hulls (or you too can make it float)

I – I is for Inox (or the Swiss get it right)

J – J is for Jib (or what is that sail on the pointy end of the boat?)

K – K is for Ketch (not kvetch, it’s Ketch!)

L – L is for Lifeboat/Liferaft (or what to do when the big boat goes away)

M – M is for Multihull (or how many of these things do we need?)

N – N is for Navigation (or where the hell are we?)

O – O is for Oar (or how to pry your boat through the water in one easy lesson)

P – P is for Paint (or how did I get more on me than on the boat?)

Q – Q is for Q-ship (or deception is the order of the day)

R – R is for Rope (no way I’d feed you a line)

S – S is for Seasickness (Bleh and I do mean bleh)

T – T is for Tallow (the little-dab-will-do-yah for boats)

U – U is for U-boat (Aaahhh-oooo-gah, Dive, Dive!)

V – V is for Varnish (an art in itself)

W – W is for Wanderlust (not all who wander are lost)

X – X is for X Marks the Spot (or all things arrrghhhh)

Y – Y is for Yard or Yardarm (What is this strange wooden thing we hang sails and sailors from?)

Z – Z is for Zulu (or how do you spell that?)

I have more block in blog posts than I thought I would have, The last week in June I’ll be going down to the Outer Banks for another writer’s retreat, so you can expect more scribblings/photos of nautical sorts of things whilst I’m there, also posts that relate to ongoing research for the new book ‘Suzy and Dodge.’

Thanks for reading.

Post Storm Scribblings

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Yes, I have been writing again. That is a good thing and it’s largely due to the efforts of my writing friends (particularly Liz Hein and Noelle Granger) who got me into the A-to-Z challenge. It definitely challenged me to go ahead and put words on the page and pay attention. Once the flow started it continued and I’ve accomplished a great deal, I think, on my new book. As you can see from the above photo, I’m a throw-back to the days of the typewriter (this one is a Smith-Corona Skywriter circa 1951), coffee and fountain pens and I’ve been pounding on the poor thing for a couple of weeks now. I’m down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina doing work on our beach house (mostly done) I’ve also taken the opportunity to do research. Apparently I have a thing for period pieces. Beagle Club is set in the summer of 1936, as you know, but the new one is also period, as it’s set in 1947. The main character Max has come home from the war and settled in a seaside community for a nice quiet life and has purchased an abandoned life saving station house for a song.

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The one above is the one that now is just down the road from the house, at Chicamacomico. Yes, you too can pronounce the name, just say ‘Chee-ca’, then ‘ma’, then ‘comic’, then ‘oh’. A lot of the names on this island are old native american names, there Chicamacomico, Kinakeet, and Rodanthe for example. If you want to know exactly where I am, look for Rodanthe. The island is less than a half-mile wide at this point so I can see the inland sounds and the ocean at the same time. Pretty cool. Anyway, wandering around the station and talking to the nice folks here gives me a very good feel for the spaces my main character moves around in. Nothing like being there and smelling the place to make your writing real.

Speaking of real, a tropical storm has just passed me by, thank goodness. It never quite made it to hurricane status because it didn’t hang out around the warm Gulf Stream for very long, so Ana was just a tropical storm. She still brought plenty of rain and wind.

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I know the waves don’t look all that high when you look at the left photo, but the winds were very strong and when you look closely at the right photo you can see the beach just sort of fades out in a fog of spray off the water. As a continuing tidbit of nauticalia, when a ship is at sea and the wind is strong enough to atomize the spray into fog it’s called ‘sea smoke’. These were taken in between the large bands of thunderstorms. I tried to get some of those when they came through, but as it was mostly at night with heavy rain, that became problematic. Suffice to say that when the winds hit my house moved around quite a bit. All the houses are elevated on stilts by building code requirements because of the flooding that takes place when the big boy storms like Irene came through. She flooded at the house up to 7 feet and washed the A/C units right off their platform. Quite a mess.

I’ve got to get back to packing, due back home today and there’s still too much to do. Thanks for reading, it’s very much appreciated, more than you know, and I look forward to reading your blogs too.

B