The Longest (D-)Day

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”Winston Churchill

D-Day1944

Image credit: Robert F. Sargent/U.S. Coast Guard

On June the 6th 1944, one of the most audacious, strategically important military operations, Operation Overlord, was put in to action. An attempt to gain a foothold in Continental Europe and launch an assault on Nazi forces. The operation started with the single largest naval invasion ever, Operation Neptune. 6939 sea-faring craft including Naval attack vessels, Merchant Navy ships and some 4126 landing craft crossed the English Channel with an aerial support from 11,590 aircraft.
With the French coast coming in to view, the landing craft pressed on under the intense bombardment of the German heavy artillery installations depositing 156,115 soldiers into the waters of the 5 beaches – Sword, Gold, Omaha, Utah and Juno. The aerial invasion dropped some 23,400 airborne troops behind enemy lines in the French countryside, launching an assault on the German troops and free the surrounding towns and villages.
Numerous soldiers died as they disembarked their landing craft, not even making it out of the surf, all the while a salvo of heavy artillery being exchanged between German installations and Allied Naval craft. As men made landfall, there was no time for celebration. The beaches, littered with barbed wire and immense metal structures designed to scupper the landing craft, causing them to drop their men in waist-deep swells, became killing fields.
Those that made it to land were faced with a stretch of beach, and a rising sand bank littered with armed German soldiers and fortified concrete gunnery bunkers, not to mention hidden mines. Against all odds, Allied forces broke down the enemy lines, and after intense, brutal and bloody fighting, the beaches were won. The strategic bridges at Benouvile and Ranville were captured, and the German forces were pushed back. The beaches were safe enough for amphibious vehicles and tanks to land for the ground assault.
Operation Fortitude succeeded in its job of diverting German attention and masking the true location of the assault. Without this success, the Nazi forces would have been far stronger. Operation Overlord was a success. But it was not without heavy human cost.
Having been lucky enough to visit the beaches of Normandy, see some of the German artillery placements, and have the moving experience of visiting military cemeteries for both sides, I am left in no doubt how important this day was. How vastly different would the recent past, present and future of Europe, and beyond, be if the day ended in failure?
70 years on to the day, and we still honour and remember the sacrifice, the losses, and the importance of what those hundreds of thousands of men have done for the world. And may they, and their actions, never be forgotten.

The Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything

No – this post is in no way connected to the classic Douglas Adams book. This is the first post of what may or may not become a new feature topic to The Psychology of Me, and that’s science. I have always been interested in science; it is such a huge part of everything around us. From the smallest things to the biggest, science has an impact in much of everyday life. Chemistry, physics and biology are everywhere and it’s in our understanding of these subjects that we live in the world we do.

If it wasn’t for our understanding of how coal, gas and oil burn at a chemical level, and our understanding of how we can use it to heat water, make steam and drive a turbine then there wouldn’t be the electricity powering the computer I am writing this on. Science is how we understand the things that go on around us. But science isn’t just confined to the pursuits of biology, chemistry and physics. There is social science, too.

Biology, chemistry and physics are the disciplines through which we try to gain a better understanding of the world around us. Social science is concerned with how we fit in to this world. It looks at law, economics, psychology and sociology. At its further reaches, it can also include law and history. Psychology – the study of the human condition. A subject I studied at school and became fascinated in. I love science, but as a creature moving through the world and the cycle of life, humans are complicated, unpredictable and really very interesting. History helps us to understand who we were and where we came from.

As we move through this life we understand the world better, and understand ourselves better. Technology helps us to expand the knowledge we have, and make accessing and sharing that knowledge easier all the time. The internet is a wealth of information, once you manage to trawl through the less-scientific material to reach the real gems. There are some fantastic sites out there that help make science accessible to the masses. A real gem started out as a page on Facebook. It grew in followers, and has its own website: www.iflscience.com.

Hopefully, with all the information and ideas out there, this will become a topic that I will work on and expand. There is a whole universe of subject matter to pick from, so I will definitely give it a go. But that will do for now, so I will leave you with this final thought:

You-Are-The-Universe-Expressing-Itself-As-A-Human-For-A-Little-While