Posts Tagged ‘years’

Familes of WWII veterans to hear messages home for first time in 70 years

December 24th, 2015

Designed partly as propaganda to show cheery soldiers having the time of their lives, they were carefully choreographed to send personal messages back to their home towns.

More than 600 examples of the films, lost for decades, were rediscovered in the basement of Manchester Town Hall during a refurbishment of the building years ago.

They will now be broadcast for the first time since the Second World War in a new Channel 4 programme, entitled Calling Blighty.

Channel 4 and the North West Film Archive have already put out on appeal seeking veterans who served in India, Burma and Sri Lanka and their families, with the hopes of including their reaction in a final broadcast.

Mr H Drinkwater, a Leading Aircraftsman in the RAF asks his wife to keep his bed warm for him The reels include footage from Mr H Drinkwater, a Leading Aircraftsman in the RAF, who tells his family: “I hope you are all right at home. I’m not doing so bad out here. It’s a bit warm. Getting decent grub, but missing the old fish and chips and a pint now and then, you know.”

With a cheeky look to camera, he tells his wife: “Anyway, keep the bed warm until I get home and we’ll get up them stairs. Cheerio”

Sam Marshall, a Gunner from the 21/8 Rajput HAA Regiment, told his family back in Manchester: “Well mother, Sam calling. I hope you’re quite well and in the pink.”

Other men are seen playing darts, polishing their specs and larking around in the background.

The messages are just two of hundreds recorded between 1944 and 1946 by the Directorate of Army Welfare in India.

At the time, British troops were stationed in India, Burma and Sri Lanka, fighting on even as Europe celebrated the end of war in what has become known as The Forgotten Army.

Without the possibility of home leave, and in an atmosphere where disease was rife and morale low, the Ministry of Defence embarked on a scheme to boost them with filmed messages to home.

Taking up to three months to arrive, with some servicemen dying before the messages got home, families and friends were invited to local cinemas to catch a glimpse of them.

These particular films were found on 25 reels in rusting film canisters in the basement of Manchester Town Hall, with paperwork detailing the names, ranks, regiments and serial numbers of participants surviving alongside it.

Steve Hawley, professor at the Manchester School of Art, said: “I saw an amazing film of servicemen in the second World War speaking to their loved ones, and mentioned this to Marion Hewitt, the Director of the North West Film Archive.

“To my delight, she told me that three decades previously, a pile of rusting film canisters had been discovered in the basement of Manchester Town Hall during refurbishment, and these were about to be thrown out when they were rescued by the Archive.”

Calling Blighty will air in early 2016 on Channel 4. The film is produced by Oxford Scientific Films.

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Germany’s first new copies of Mein Kampf in 70 years aim to shatter myth of book

December 2nd, 2015

The first run of Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition would be limited to between 3,500 and 4,000 copies, he said.

Plans to publish the new version have been controversial and drawn fire especially from Jewish groups, who have argued the book is dangerous and should never be printed again.

“We have to strip away the allure of this book and show the reality,” said Mr Wirsching

One of two rare copies of 'Mein Kampf' signed by the young Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and due for auction, photographed in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 2014

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was written by Hitler in 1924 while languishing in prison after a failed coup.

Authorities in the southern state of Bavaria were handed the copyright by Allied forces after the Second World War.

For seven decades, they have refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But at the end of the year the copyright runs out so that Mein Kampf falls into the public domain on January 1.

“This is not just a source” for the study of Nazi ideology, said the historian responsible for the project, Christian Hartmann. “It is also a symbol and it is one of the last relics of the Third Reich.”

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Battle of Britain flypast commemorates 75 years since the ‘Hardest Day’

August 18th, 2015

The ‘Hardest Day’ recalls when, on 18 August 1940, Biggin Hill in Bromley came under attack from the Luftwaffe, and post-war studies have shown this was the hardest-fought day in the history of the air war over Britain.

On this day, both sides recorded their greatest losses in battle. Germany flew 850 sorties involving 2200 aircrew, and the RAF sent out 927 sorties in return.

The RAF lost altogether 68 aircraft – 31 in air combat. 69 German planes were destroyed.

Wartime reinactors attend the Commemoration of The Hardest Day at London Biggin Hill Airport Picture: Alamy

At Biggin Hill, World War Two re-enactors and veterans of the Battle of Britain assembled with many who came to watch the skies.

• Battle of Britain: the spitfire, envy of the enemy
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Veteran Tony Pickering said that he would like to fly again, saying “I’d be up there with them”.

He was one of 3,000 people – known as The Few – to fly in the Battle of Britain to keep control of the skies against the Germans.

Battle of Britain veteran, Squadron Leader Tony Pickering from Rugby, who fought alongside fellow WWII RAF airmen known as The Few Picture: PA

Air raid sirens went off as the 24 aircraft took off to make their three routes, which follow the journeys made by three pilots 75 years ago to Portsmouth, Dover and RAF Kenley.

World War II Spitfires take to the skies over Biggin Hill Picture: PA

This flight was named after Wing Commander Douglas Grice, who was awarded a medal for destroying so many German planes and was shot down three times during the six weeks’ fighting.

• Battle of Britain pilot: ‘You were always outnumbered’
‘I enjoyed the Battle of Britain’ – The Few gather for 75th anniversary

An Airbus A380 passes overhead as World War II Spitfires and Hurricanes take to the skies over Kent Picture: PA

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Britain remembers VJ Day 70 years on – live

August 15th, 2015

Veterans are now laying wreaths as they march past the Cenotaph. A veteran standard bearer collapsed and received medical attention from nearby soldiers before being stretchered away from Horseguards Parade.

David Cameron sits alongside Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Horseguards Parade ceremony (IMAGE: PA)


Recap: Hundreds of veterans gathered on Horse Guards Parade for a Drumhead commemoration to celebrate Victory in Japan, attended by the Prime Minister and Prince of Wales.

Royal Marine buglers and percussionists from Portsmouth piled up their drums to form a ceremonial altar at the centre of the parade, replicating the practise used by troops on the front line.

The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, bishop to HM Armed Forces, led the service and paid particular tribute to those who served in the Far East who played a pivotal role in Japan’s defeat.

Viscount Slim, the son of Field Marshal Slim, read a passage from his father’s memoir Defeat Into Victory.

He read: “To the soldiers of many races who, in the comradeship of the 14th Army, did go on, and to the airmen who flew with them and fought with them and fought over them, belongs the true of achievement.

“It was they who turned defeat into victory.”


Charles Dance, who earlier read Kipling’s Mandalay, said: “It was rather nerve-wracking, it was like ten first night’s in a row. This is remembering people who don’t pretend. I tell you it’s nerve-wracking. I could see people mouthing the words. Christ, it’s part of history.”


A Swordfish was unable to join the flypast a of a Hurricane and a Typhoon over central London earlier.


The average age of those participating in the procession is more than 90, according to the BBC.


The Lord’s Prayer is followed by Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer.


Prince Charles has laid a wreath at the drum head, followed by the Prime Minister.


A minute’s silence across Horse Guards.


The last post is now being played.


Drumhead altar being built at the #VJDay70 service


Charles Dance is reading Kipling’s Mandalay. “On the road to Mandalay, where the flying-fishes play. / An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay.”


Flypast of an RAF Typhoon and a Hurricane delights the crowds at Horseguards Parade.


The procession on Horseguards Parade is about to start.



Dan Chapman, 92, speaks to Patrick Sawer about his experiences fighting the Japanese in Malaya.

Mr Chapman was among thousands of British troops at sea preparing to invade Malaysia when he heard it was all over.

As the men of his 26th Indian Division braced themselves for the bitter fighting that would follow Operation Zipper’s imminent seaborne assault on Port Swettenham, south west of Kuala Lumpur, word spread that Japan had surrendered.

Mr Chapma, said: “This time 70 years ago we were waiting on board ship to land against the Japanese in Malaya. We were about to do the landing when the atom bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered. We were saved from invading at the critical last minute, saving many Japanese and Indian Army lives. I felt somewhat relived, to put it mildly. I think we were all pleased that it was over.”

With the planned invasion averted, the 26th Indian Division was diverted to Indonesia to take the surrender of the Japanese in Sumatra.

“We weren’t sure whether we were going to be met by bullets or surrender, so we were a bit apprehensive,” said Mr Chapman. “But it went off all right and eventually all the Japanese surrendered and were sent back to Japan.”

But Mr Chapman’s war continued for another 12 months, as the 26th Indian Division took part in anti-insurgency operations on behalf of the Dutch colonial government. “My war just carried on,” he said.

Born and bred in Barking, east London, he had joined the British Army in September 1941, just before his 18th birthday, having already experienced the terror of the Blitz and served in the Local Defence Volunteers and Home Guard.

After a year in the Royal Corps of Signals and the Royal Army Service Corps he was transferred to the South Staffordshire Infantry Regiment and posted to Bangalore, where he was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Garhwal Rifles, reaching the rank of Captain.

Mr Chapman, who was awarded the Burma Star and left the Army in 1947, went on to have three children and six grandchildren with Eileen, his wife of 65 years.

Seventy years on the retired bank manager joined other veterans at the Wivenhoe Branch of The Royal British Legion in remembering those who did not survive the war,

“I will mostly be thinking about lost comrades and some of the good times,” he said. “And just being alive.”


From Tokyo: Japanese Emperor Akihito expressed rare “deep remorse” over his country’s wartime actions in an address Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, a day after the prime minister fell short of apologizing in his own words to the victims of Japanese aggression.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, stayed away from a contentious Yasukuni shrine that honors war criminals among other war dead. He instead prayed and laid flowers at a national cemetery for unnamed fallen soldiers ahead of the annual ceremony at Tokyo’s Budokan hall.

That ceremony started with a moment of silence at noon to mark the radio announcement by Emperor Hirohito, Akihito’s father, of Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.


Rare colour footage of VJ Day from the archives.


Ahead of the VJ Day commemorations, The Telegraph’s Patrick Sawer has spoken to several veterans of Britain’s campaign in the Far East to record their stories.


John Giddings, 92

John Giddings’ war did not end with the Allied victory over Japan on 15 August 1945.

For four long years he had fought in Singapore, Burma and India as British forces confronted the Japanese across south east Asia.

But following the Japanese surrender, Mr Giddings was dispatched to assist the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia, then facing a nationalist insurgency for independence.

Back in 1940, at the start of it all, he had lied in order to do his bit. Aged 17, Mr Giddings headed to his nearest RAF recruitment station, in Gloucester, and told them he was 18 – allowing him to sign up. He said: “ After the Battle of Britain I thought ‘I’ve got to get in there, the Air Force needs me.’”

Following basic training in Skegness the teenager was among the first to put his name down when the call came for volunteers for overseas duty and in December 1941 he was posted to Air Headquarters Singapore.

He was lucky not to be captured before his war had even begun. On its way to Singapore his ship fortuitously broke down and when the rest of the convoy – which had sailed ahead to the British colony – was captured by the Japanese, it managed to make its way to Burma instead.

Here Mr Giddings fought with 17 Squadron, flying a Hawker Hurricane fighter. Overwhelmed by the Japanese in 1942, British forces retreated to India, where Mr Giddings took part in the four-month long defence of Agatala.

But his most dangerous mission was yet to come. In 1944 he signed up for “volunteers for hazardous duty” and found himself pitched into the battle of Kohima, north east India, where the Japanese were attempting to capture a key ridge held by British and Indian troops.

It was the task of Mr Giddings and his fellow volunteers to keep the defenders supplied, something they managed to do until the Japanese retreated on June 22 that year.

He rejoined 17 Squadron, this time flying Spitfires, and took part in the battle of Mandalay, which saw the Japanese overwhelmed by Allied forces – thanks in part to British supremacy in the air.

The battle, which raged from January to March 1945, proved a turning point in the war in the Far East and Mr Giddings and his squadron were subsequently ordered to take part in the recapture of Singapore, which had fallen to the Japanese in ignominious circumstances three years earlier.

By the time the men got to Singapore however, the Americans had dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shortly after the Japanese surrendered, bringing the war to an end, and Mr Giddings and his comrades were met with no opposition.

With the war over Mr Giddings was given two weeks leave and hitchhiked back to Britain, only to be sent back to the far east to help Dutch forces fight what was ultimately a losing battle against Indonesian independence. It was, the 92-year-old now says, “almost as bad as Burma”.

After leaving the RAF in 1947 Mr Giddings, who joined fellow veterans in Saturday’s VJ parade along Whitehall, worked in engineering and insurance, while also serving as a civilian volunteer in the Royal Observer Corps as part of Britain’s Cold War defences. He went on to become Mayor of Banbury and is now the chairman of the Burma Star Association. In 2003 he was made an MBE for his services to the association.


The Queen is meeting veterans outside St-Martin-in-the-Fields. She came down from Balmoral castle and was said to be particularly keen to attend today’s proceedings.

She is greeted by an eager crowd as she returns to her motorcade in Trafalgar Square. A flypast and a procession on Horseguards Parade with more than 1,000 VJ Day veterans will follow later. Join us here for both.


Tom Boardman is reading the Far East Prisoner of War Prayer.

• VJ Day 70th anniversary: Britain remembers, in pictures

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World War Two hero’s wedding ring returned 70 years after it was lost

March 13th, 2015

The ring was presented to one of his surviving relatives, his 92-year-old sister, Dorothy Webster, along with a fuel gauge from the bomber and a rock from the mountain into which it crashed.

The inside of the gold ring is inscribed with the names John and Joyce – Flt Sgt Thompson had married a Londoner called Joyce Mozley in June 1944, before being sent off on active service. She remarried after the war but died in 1995.

His Halifax, part of 148 Squadron, crashed about 25 miles north of Tirana, the Albanian capital, while delivering weapons and other supplies to Albanian partisans fighting the Nazis.

In 1960 a local man, Jaho Cala, found the ring while out collecting wood in the mountains.

Nervous about informing the Communist authorities of the Hoxha regime, he took it home and kept it hidden for decades.

He later revealed its existence to his son, Xhemil Cala, instructing him to try to find out who it belonged to.

His son, who became a police officer, wore the ring for years and made several attempts to find out who it belonged to, but without success.

Two years ago he contacted the British and American embassies in Tirana, guessing that it may have belonged to an Allied airman flying missions over Albania.

In October, a team of British and US officials located the remains of the aircraft on the sides of a 6,000ft high mountain.

The British embassy were eventually able to confirm that the ring belonged to Sgt Thompson, who came from Darley Dale in Derbs. The embassy contacted his family and the relatives of the six other RAF crew members.

“Seventy years we’ve waited. We can’t believe that we’re here today celebrating this after all this time,” Mrs Webster, who was a year younger than her brother, told The Associated Press. “My father would have been thrilled to pieces with it all.”

She said she was “overwhelmed” to receive the ring and other items and that she still remembered her brother “very well, as if it were yesterday.”

She was accompanied by four of his nephews and other family members at a ceremony at the Albanian defence ministry in Tirana.

“Your brother helped to liberate my country. He will never be forgotten,” Mimi Kodheli, the defence minister, told her.

“All these years it has been a story of loss,” said one of her sons, Alan Webster. “We now know almost everything that happened. It’s a sense of closure. We know where John is. He’s over there in the mountain.”

His brother, Brian Webster, said: “Our grandfather and grandmother never locked the house in Matlock – (they were) waiting for their missing son.”

Another relative, Philip Thompson, said the family had struggled to obtain information from the War Office about Sgt Thompson’s fate “because he was part of a secret operation in Albania.”or a long time the family believed that he had crashed in Poland.

Presenting the ring, Xhemil Cala said he was relieved to have fulfilled his father’s wish that it be returned to the airman’s family. “I will go to his grave and say rest in peace for your dying wish has been fulfilled,” he said.

Arthur Gilbert, 91, a childhood friend of the RAF flight engineer, told the Matlock Mercury last year: “He was a cheery little lad and he came from a big family. It was very sad to hear that he had never returned from the war.”

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Dresden bomber Harry Irons remembers raid 70 years on

February 8th, 2015

Warrant Officer Harry Irons, DFC, joined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 16 as a rear gunner, flying in Lancasters with No. 9 Squadron.

On the night of February 13th 1945, two waves of RAF bombers, followed by the USAAF, dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the German city.

An estimated 25,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the resulting inferno that took place in the final months of the Second World War.

Although the raids had military objectives, the devastation was controversial.

Watch Mr Irons’ account of his experience of the raid, 70 years ago.

Mr Irons recalls his time with the RAF. Photo: Anthony Upton

Photographs and medals belonging to Mr Irons. Photo Anthony Upton

Mr Irons was involved in around 60 bombing raids during the Second World War. Photo: Anthony Upton

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Churchill’s state funeral recreated 50 years on

February 1st, 2015

The Havengore, which bore Churchill’s coffin, on the Thames (Image: Stephen Lock)

Havengore, the Port of London Authority’s flagship vessel from 1956 until the early 1990s, slipped her moorings from HMS President at St Katherine Docks at midday. On the quayside The Royal Hospital School Band played Rule Britannia. On board, the passengers were accompanied by the Queen’s Watermen, splendid in their ceremonial tunics, flashing scarlet against the murky water.

As she turned to sail upstream, pipers playing on her bows, Tower Bridge slowly opened to welcome her through.

Memorial flotilla passes under Tower Bridge (Geoff Pugh/The Telegraph)

Among those watching from the embankment was Gordon Roy, a 69-year-old Royal Navy veteran who was on duty that day in 1965. “I had been injured in an accident on the submarines,” he recalls, “and was still recovering in hospital. But they decided they needed some more bodies so they told me to get my best uniform and come down to stand on duty.”

He took his place near St Paul’s Cathedral, immaculate in his uniform of silk lanyard, white garters and belt. “I will remember it for ever,” he said. “It was the look on people’s faces – everybody was just spellbound.”

Roy says he felt compelled to come again yesterday. “I have to see the boss off again, don’t I,” he said smiling.

Ivor Edwards, a 71-year-old former corporal in the Royal Signals, was another veteran present yesterday and happy to share his memories. “In 1965 I was in Cyprus with the UN peacekeeping force,” he says. “I never got the chance to come then. We couldn’t even watch it on TV. That’s why I’m here today.’’ Edwards was one of many in the crowd to speak warmly of the former prime minister. “Churchill was the right man for the right time,” he said.

But how times have changed. The Havengore is still in pristine condition yet the banks of the Thames are now unrecognisable. London’s great docks are long gone and the work of the few cranes along the river remaining is restricted to the latest generation of steel and chrome skyscrapers. And that work continued as the small flotilla sailed past.

The cortege at the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill makes its way down Whitehall, London, 30th January 1965

As Havengore neared HMS Belfast, a four-gun salute rang out in tribute. Further upstream at Victoria Embankment, the Grimsby sloop HQS Wellington exchanged salutes with the smaller vessel.

Every bridge along the route was thronged with people, tourists brandishing “selfie-sticks”, office workers on their lunch breaks and of course those who had come specially to pay their respects. But crowds were thickest on Westminster Bridge where Havengore bobbed to a final halt on a stretch of river opposite the Palace of Westminster.

As the clouds darkened and raindrops spat down, prayers were said and the national anthem played on board. Then, just beyond the stroke of 1.30pm from Big Ben, Last Post sounded across the water, and a green wreath – embossed with a golden V for Victory created for the occasion at the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory in Richmond – was gently dropped overboard by Colonel Anthony Mather, who led the pall bearers at the funeral, and Barry de Morgan, former adjutant of the Queen’s Royal Hussars who escorted the coffin. It was carried swiftly away by the swirling currents.

Sir Winston Churchill, cigar in mouth, gives his famous ‘V’ for victory sign

The voyage was just one event among several on this day of commemoration, which had begun with a service in the House of Parliament and concluded yesterday evening at Westminster Abbey.

Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the first to lay a wreath at the feet of the Churchill’s statue in the Members Lobby, paying tribute to a “great leader and a great Briton”.

The archway over which the statue stands sentinel, was rebuilt out of shattered stone on Churchill’s personal command after its destruction during the Blitz. Mr Cameron urged Britons to continue to draw on such “courage and resolve” to battle the affronts to freedom we face today.

He spoke in the shadow of the hulking broze monument: Churchill, hands on his hips, the scowling leader still inspiring the nation he saved.

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Holocaust Memorial Day: remembering the horror of Auschwitz 70 years on

January 26th, 2015

The site was also the death place for many people who did not fit into the Nazis’ view of their world. Poles, lesbians, homosexuals and the disabled were amongst those also killed here.

Over one and a half million people were killed at Auschwitz, including women and children

The infamous sign, made by a prisoner, was erected by the Nazis after the Auschwitz barracks were converted into a labour camp to house Polish resistance fighters in 1940. Auschwitz was later expanded into a vast death camp

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Eindhoven: Joe Cattini receives hero’s welcome for a second time, 70 years on

September 23rd, 2014

The organisers of the trip said the people of Eindhoven wanted to thank the Allied soldiers for their freedom.

The veterans, who arrived back in the UK on Tuesday, spent two weeks in Holland as “guests of honour”. They toured museums, met serving soldiers and revisited some of the places they had stayed.

Also on the trip was Denys Hunter, with whom he was reunited during the D-Day celebrations.

Mr Cattini and Mr Hunter became the faces of this year’s D-Day anniversary commemorations when they were picture moments after being reunited for the first time since they took part in the landings on the Normandy beaches 70 years ago.

In Eindhoven, they were also invited on to the pitch ahead of football match between PSV Eindhoven and SC Cambuur, where three paratroopers jumped from 1,500 feet holding football shirts which were then presented to the veterans.

Mr Cattini and Mr Hunter were both part of the 86th Hertfordshire Yeomanry Field Regiment RA, which was part of the British advance through Europe and which helped free Eindhoven from Nazi occupation.

Joe Cattini and Denys Hunter spent two weeks in Holland as ‘guests of honour’

The city was liberated when an American paratrooper from the 101st Airborne division advancing from the north made contact with British ground troops, advancing from the south, at a church.

The American paratroopers had been dropped at Son, a village north of Eindhoven, on September 17 and advanced to Eindhoven the next day. Their job was to secure the four bridges over the River Dommel ready for the British ground forces to advance.

The British troops, who had entered the Netherlands from the south, liberated the town of Valkenswaar on September 17. They spent their night there before continuing on to Eindhoven the next day, where they were welcomed as heroes.

One American trooper recalled being asked for his autograph by a woman, so relieved occupation was over.

Mr Cattini said he remembered driving into Eindhoven and six young women jumping in the back of his truck.

It was the first major city in Holland to be liberated by troops on the way to Arnham as part of the doomed Operation Market Garden.

However Eindhoven’s jubilation was short lived. The following day, on September 19, while the city was still celebrating, German Luftwaffe planes appeared above overhead and launched a bombing campaign. In total, 227 civilians were killed.

But Eindhoven has commemorated the liberation each year on September 18 since 1945.

This year, a “liberation torch” was carried by cyclists and runners from Bayeux in Normandy, along the same route the Allies used in 1944, culminating in a torch lit procession to the Town Hall Square where the veterans and guests were received.

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Paris to celebrate 70 years since liberation from Nazi occupation, with little contribution from US or UK

August 24th, 2014

The exception was a parade on Saturday by French and American forces to mark the entry into the capital of the French 2nd Armoured Division and the 4th US Infantry Division.

There was little mention of the deportation to the Buchenwald concentration camp of more than 2,500 “political prisoners” from a suburb of the capital on the day the uprising began, and even less of the arrests of nine Jews by Paris police only four days earlier.

“The French government has made the Liberation of Paris a purely French celebration,” two young French commentators, Fabrice d’Almeida and Sophie Roche, wrote in the Huffington Post.

Gen. Charles De Gaulle (AP Photo/Constance Stuart Larrabee)

De Gaulle used the liberation of the capital as a way for France to begin recovering from the dishonour of its surrender in 1940 and the years of collaboration.

In his victory speech, he said: “Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the support of the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the true France, of the eternal France!”

The historian Jean-Pierre Azéma noted de Gaulle accorded “only perfunctory thanks to the soldiers of the 4th US Infantry Division who accompanied the (French) 2nd Armoured Division.”

A tank from the French Armored Division passes the Arc de Triomphe during the final hours of the struggle to liberate Paris from German occupation (AP)

The novelist Ernest Hemingway, who entered Paris in uniform as a war correspondent with American forces, gave a rather different version, reporting that thousands of Parisians lined the streets to welcome them, shouting “Vive l’Amérique, Vive la France” and waving American flags.

Hemingway created his own legend of liberation by taking command of the bar at the Ritz hotel, requisitioned by the Nazis in 1940.

“Where are the Germans?” he reportedly demanded when he arrived at the hotel with a group of Resistance fighters. “I have come to liberate the Ritz.”

The manager, Claude Auzello, replied: “Monsieur, they left a long time ago and I cannot let you enter with a weapon.” Hemingway duly put down his gun and is said to run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis in the company of his “irregulars”.

French poet, journalist, and a member of the French Resistance Madeleine Riffaud (AP)

Three weeks earlier, Madeleine Riffaud, a Resistance fighter who was not yet 20, encouraged Parisians to rise up by shooting dead a German officer on a Paris bridge on a a Sunday afternoon.

“Everyone saw that a young girl on a bicycle can do this,” she told the Associated Press.

Fred Moore, the son of a former Royal Navy officer who was born and brought up in Amiens, northern France, said he was welcomed with warm embraces by the women of Paris when he entered the city as a French soldier on August 25.

“One of them later became my wife,” said Mr Moore, 94.

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