D-Day Recalled by Veterans for Photo Exhibit

On June 6th, 1944, the Normandy invasion began with D-Day, a heavy term for anyone with even the slightest of knowledge regarding WWII. The Imperial War Museum has put together a display of photography to honor the landing at the beaches of Normandy, and has collected veterans to speak of their experiences on that tragic day which ultimately helped lead to the Allied victory. Given the high number of deaths that occurred, those that survived D-Day are as fortunate as they are brave, a fact which few have been able to forget.

Photographer Robin Savage generally works with actors and actresses, but has embarked on a different task altogether by putting together a WWII exhibit for the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. The photographs, which will also appear in a photo book Savage is putting together, are of veterans who survived D-Day and who have agreed to tell their harrowing accounts. Savage made the veterans’ pictures more interesting by setting each in a location that the featured veteran found truly memorable.

Not all of the survivors are veterans in the general sense of the word, in that not all were soldiers. One survivor is Vera Hay, a nurse who was on-duty during the landings at Normandy. Her setting may seem odd to some, as it appears to be just a house; however, on D-Day it was actually the site of the hospital where she experienced the overwhelming horrors of the invasion through the patients she treated. Seeing the place turned into a domicile is heart-warming, as a site of death has been turned into one of life.

Some memories are less gut-wrenching and more awe-inspiring, as those of James Corrigan. Corrigan took his photograph in front of a farm, where he hid during the invasion and witnessed a young boy bringing milk to soldiers in the foxholes. Ever since D-Day, Corrigan has returned to the site annually to meet with the boy for lunch.

Peter Thompson, who turned 19 on the day of the invasion, remembers the edge of the beach itself. There, he had to unload landing ship tanks and fill them up with wounded fighters before returning to make another trip (he made twenty in all). One of the war assets he delivered on D-Day was his own brother, who fortunately survived the landing, the Express reports.

D-Day has a number of stories to offer, and these are but three stories made unique by the intimate perspective of those involved with the events of the day. Savage chronicled 33 unique survivors for his project, so there is a great deal of personal knowledge of the emotional impact of such an event to be had from his book and exhibit. The title of Savage’s work is D-Day: The Last of the Liberators, and should provide a great deal of personal context for a highly historical event.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE