D-Day success: Ireland’s input

US Troops wading through water after reaching Normandy and landing Omaha beach on D Day 1944. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)

Almost certainly unnoticed by holidaymakers making their way to and from England’s cross-Channel ferry ports and Eurotunnel stations is a modest 1914-18 war memorial on Folkestone’s seafront promenade. 

It has an extract from Tennyson’s lines on the death of the Duke of Wellington: “Not once or twice in our rough island story, the path of duty was the way to glory.” 

Our island, too, has a rough story, and an especially poignant chapter in it gives us a rightful interest in the D-Day commemorations taking place this week. 

What can be too easily forgotten, or disregarded as politically inconvenient, is the contribution to the success of Operation Overlord made by the many thousands of Irish volunteers from the officially neutral Republic who joined the British and North American armies and took part in the Normandy landings. 

It’s believed that more than 800 Irishmen in British uniforms lost their lives in the liberation of north-western Europe. 

The toll rises when our contribution to the American and Canadian armies is included.

They, too, will be remembered today.

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