D-DAY TO BERLIN
The Long March to Victory
By David Edwards
Published by Haynes
Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online
Christmas is coming and sensible publishers are looking carefully for the stuff that will entice you to flex your friend on something for yourself or for someone near and dear. Great War books are cascading all over us, but don’t forget the big WW2 anniversaries of 2014 where D-Day sits on the top of the heap.
Haynes are here with this interesting compendium based on the archives of the Daily Mirror. It is a simple and well presented concept whereby the author lifts original articles from the paper and matches them to photos and other images of the day. We follow events from the nightmare of Dieppe through to VE Day. It works for me.
In these days when the press are in the dock and up the creak it is nice to look back at a time when they were held a little higher in our minds…maybe. But don’t be fooled, the papers were just as pushy and naughty in those sepia toned days and everything was up for grabs. As a paper which had graduated to the left and pitched itself as a representative of the working man, the Mirror wasn’t the favourite read of Churchill, or even some members of the Labour gliterati. But it was knocking out a circulation of over four million copies a day during the war years and peaked when it added another million and a half in the post war years of reconstruction after the Labour landslide of 1945 dumped Churchill out of office.
The Mirror is the ideal paper to see the war through and the publishers have been no fools with this formula. The thing really cracks along – helped considerably by the cartoons of Phillip Zec and others. The skill of these great artists shines through. You can read it cover to cover or dip in and out. It fits in with the spirit of so many other books from Haynes, and indeed, it follows a similar outing on the Titanic. The partnership works well.
The choice of photographs ebbs and flows. I’m not familiar with the paper’s photographers wrapped up in the British Newspaper Pool following the Allied armies across Europe after D-Day, so I can’t easily identify specifics by them. The images here are sometimes familiar, but many are new to me. I have to admit I am not fully happy with the order the images run in and there are a couple of wobbly captions,but,on the whole,there is nothing to detract from the finished article.
The Daily Mirror is still with us and pushes out over a million copies a day. It continues to adhere strongly to support for the left leaning side of politics and ordinary working people. It has had it’s troubles, but has survived the disastrous Maxwell years. I had the sorry pleasure of working for a few years with two retired librarians who had to keep going when their pensions vanished. They were brilliant blokes and their knowledge was immense. It was a happy reunion of sorts because my failure to get a job in the Mirror library back in 1976 propelled me into the army. My first long term job was at the old Mirror Group and although I was just a spotty teenage clerk I learned much and can say with a straight face that if I am proud of any part of my employment history it is my days at the Mirror that mean a lot. The old building on High Holborn stood proud and my memories of it are filled with colour. It’s all gone now.
D-Day pulls in the World War 2 and military minded punter probably more than every other event. I’ve discussed in another review the impact of the units and people involved in Overlord becoming almost like brands. This clever book identifies a classic brand – the Daily Mirror – with those incredible events of 1944-45. The paper urged through prose and cartoons that the sacrifice and valour of the Britons who won the war in Europe would not be in vain and they would have the future their fathers did not see in 1918. Newspapers are our history in good times and bad. Today’s trials and tribulations should not detract from their role in the victory achieved at so much cost.