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Learn the lessons of Normandy

Let's not rush to change until we know what we want

Let's not rush to change until we know what we want


In June 1944, the Allies had landed on the beaches at Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword and were advancing inland fighting against mainly battle hardened German troops who had fought on the Eastern Front. On the east flank of the allied invasion, Montgomery’s objective was to capture and liberate the city of Caen within the first 24 hours. This objective was not achieved. It took far longer to achieve. Part of this was due to the fact that the British and Canadian troops were facing the near fanatical ‘SS Panzer “Hitlerjugend”‘ division who fought hard (and committed atrocities against the Canadian troops). Montgomery bombarded the Germans in Caen, encircled the city and, eventually, the Germans capitulated or withdrew. 

Caen was flattened. By flattening the city, Montgomery not only made it harder for his troops to move into Caen, he made it easier for the Germans to defend. But, the main losers in this battle were the civilians. Thousands of civilians died and the German Army withdrew to continue its bloody defence all the way to Berlin.

While we remember the heroism and atrocities of that campaign, and while we have lived with the benefits that came from the defeat of Nazism, we are now in a time a huge turmoil and opportunity. A small minority of greedy people have smashed the world’s economy to pieces, the wave of which we were happily riding the decade before. The British political system has had six weeks of revelations from which the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ has highlighted the irresponsibility of a small group of our society’s leaders who lost sight of the meaning of serving their people. 

However, like Montgomery bombing Caen to pieces, the Press needs to balance their power of information with the need to  think rationally about what we would like to replace what is now being destroyed. We run the risk of throwing out a group of individuals and replacing them with individuals and policies which are based upon a wave of emotional anger and not rational thought and reason. 

Sure, let’s have an election, but not until we have got this mess sorted out. Sure, let’s get rid of those shysters who have defrauded the system. But let’s not rush into anything before we know what we want and replace the current system with a bunch of inexperienced nitwits who sail in on a single issue but who have no depth to their capabilities. 

So, when we remember the heroics of Major John Howard and his men who landed in gliders 47 metres away from their target and swept away the old system at Pegasus Bridge, let us not forget that Howard and his men had trained for months for that moment. And we must do the same in this tumultuous time. Let’s sweep away the old ways but let’s not rush into it and pave the way for greater difficulties later on through a rushed and bungled reaction.

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