D-Day landings

Date of news/blog: 6th June 2024

Doreen Binks was aged 14 and living with her parents in a village near Nottingham when the D-Day landings took place on 6th June 1944.

She recalls the big headlines in the newspapers in the following days which confirmed the invasion of western Europe was underway and the sense of optimism that gave everyone.

This was in stark contrast to 1940 when they learned that the Germans had captured Paris.

Doreen recalls: “There was a real sense of foreboding then and I do remember the doom and gloom which followed. It felt like a big black cloud had descended over us and everyone was very pessimistic about the future.”

Luckily, thanks to the heroic efforts of the RAF and the entrance into the war of the United States of America, Britain never had to face an invasion, but Doreen remembers her mother made them say a prayer every night throughout the war, so perhaps divine intervention had a hand in this.

The prayer went like this:

Lord keep us safe this night

Secure from all our fears

May Angels guard us

Till morning light appears

Living in a small village, Doreen and her family thankfully didn’t experience the horrors of bombing which people living in our biggest cities did, but she does remember Nottingham being attacked.

“My father was a fire warden, and we were in a shelter when he shouted to us that Nottingham was being bombed as he could see the red glow in the sky,” she says.

“Being young, I shouted out that I wanted to see but he understandably didn’t let me, which was just as well because a stray bomb did fall around a mile away from us and killed a woman in her house.”

A day after the bombing on Nottingham, Doreen was due to travel to the city for an interview for her 11-plus scholarship.

“There was never any question of me not going because we just got on with daily life then. Part of the building where my interview took place had been bombed but it went ahead, and I got my scholarship.”

Doreen remembers in the years following the war,  in French lessons at her school they had to write ‘Pense aux Marins’ which means ‘Remember the Sailors’ in their books, and then later in life as the Oral Historian for Petersfield Museum, she interviewed a local man called Tim Olphert who commanded a tank on D-Day.

Doreen adds: “His tank was the first to land on the beach but he he said a lot of the others hit land mines and were incapacitated.

“It was a very moving recording because he talked about the preparations which went into the invasion, as well as what happened on D-Day itself, which he said was horrific.

“Tim later revisited the beaches with his grandchildren which was very therapeutic for him.

“I also interviewed a despatch rider who took messages from one unit to the next following the invasion, and that was very interesting too.”

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