“The clock struck 7. I could no longer sleep for the sound of planes and guns. As I stirred, I saw a plane fly past our dorm window. It must be the invasion”.
This is an excerpt from a diary written by a teenager as she awoke at her boarding school on 6June 1944, less than 10 mikes away from a British naval port on the South Coast. She also talks about the sight of huge cranes, amphibious tanks and military vehicles filing through the village a few days before. In her dairy entry , she describes how she tries to get answers as to what is happening from her teachers, all of whom seem to have their head buried in the sand or just brick wall enquiries so as not to cause panic amongst the pupils. What astonishes me is that the guns she could hear were not from the British naval port, they were from the coast of France, such was the intensity of the gun-fire.
She was clearly worried but the only news could be sourced from the wireless at break-time or rumours from pupils and a whole lot of scaremongering about the Germans invading.
Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of D-Day and it was a great opportunity to read what that day must have felt like for a teenager whose only source of information was the sound of gunfire and the odd limited update from a crackly wireless and whether there was a star, a stripe or a cross on the planes overhead.
It makes me think about the conflict in places like Syria and African regions such as the Congo and how powerless children still feel when it comes to wars waged by older generations. Thanks to D-Day, she never experienced the horrors of conflict on her doorstep, but the guns echoing across the English channel as she woke felt as close as if they were 10 miles down the road.
This blog is for Unicef, a charity that also helps vulnerable children in war-torn areas world-wide.
Thanks for reading.