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Historical Data > D-Day, A Different Slant

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message 1: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey Brooks | 12 comments "We are the D-Day Dodgers in sunny Italy, Always on the vino, always on a spree...." I remember my late father singing this song to the tune of "Lili Marlene" around this time every year, when people are being reminded it was the anniversary of the Normandy Landings on June 6th 1944. He was in the Royal Artillery, had fought through the campaigns in the North African desert, and in Sicily and Italy as a member of the British Eighth Army. The term "D-Day Dodger" was said to have been used by Lady Astor during a speech in Parliament referring to the soldiers in Italy, who were alledgedly avoiding the fighting in Normandy. As the British soldiers and their American allies (along with Indian, Polish, Free French and Brazilian (yes, Brazilian), and many other naionalities) had just fought hard through one of the worst winters and wettest springs Italy had had for years, they were not impressed when they heard the term.
In fact it is unlikely Lady Astor ever said it and she certainly denied doing so. A more accurate version of the story is that she received a letter from a soldier in Italy signed "A D-Day Dodger", as the nickname was already in common use among the soldiery. This reached the ears of the press and they naturally produced their own, more sensationalised version of events. Nevertheless, the lady got the blame. The song appeared not long after the Normandy landings and soon became popular with British troops in Italy. They felt neglected and unappreciated. The Normandy theatre of operations received the latest weapons and more support and supplies and grabbed all the newspaper headlines. When asked later if they had taken part in D-Day they would ask which one. The military usage of the term denotes the beginning of an operation (in the same way that H-Hour denotes the time of its commencement)and they had carried out more amphibious landings then the soldiers in France had, and suffered heavy casualties overcoming the stubborn German defence at places like Monte Cassino and Anzio, and many others. And, though in this case I think they did, as my father used to say, if soldiers don't have anything to grumble about, they'll find something.
So, though I think of the men who gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy today, I also remember the others, in Italy and the Far East and on the oceans and in all the other theatres of war. And I remember my Dad and am grateful he was one of the ones who got through it in one piece. Otherwise I wouldn't be here today to remember him.
If anyone is interested in a little more information there is a mention on wikipedia - just search "D-Day Dodgers" to find it, and several "cleaned-up" versions of the song can be found by searching Youtube. There were several versions at the time too, some more vulgar than others but all reflecting the fact they were made up by soldiers, and expressing the same sentiment of weary disillusionment.


message 2: by Debra (new)

Debra Brown (debrabrown) | 957 comments Mod
Very interesting! Thank you Lindsey.


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