Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night.
The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.
Summer is here and Titanic news tends to be thin except for the occasional item auctioned off or something interesting going on. Back in May, there was an auction of fittings from Britannic, sister ship of Titanic that sank in the Aegean in World War I. When the war started, the ship was put into service as a troop ship and most of her fittings were removed. Most were auctioned off and went into private hands.
One of the items sold was maple paneling in the “colonial style” became part a bar in a private home in Dublin, Ireland. According the BBC, there was a lot of interest in the auction and many came to view the items being auctioned. The auction fetched £257,000 ($327,000)at the auction. Names of the bidders and where they reside has not been publicly disclosed.
Today we cannot imagine or fathom the resources and manpower needed for this highly complex operation. It took years of planning, putting together needed resources, and training the men needed. Even then things went wrong right away but despite the terrible odds and the high casualty rate, the Allied forces prevailed. With many junior officers wounded or killed right away, it was the ordinary soldier that won the day.
The world of 6 June 1944 was this: Nazi Germany held total control over Western Europe except for Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland who remained neutral. However its invasion of Russia had collapsed at this point with the German army now forced to retreat. It had already been forced out of North Africa and Allied troops had landed in Sicily in 1943 and by 1944 were in Italy. Mussolini had been deposed in 1943, rescued by German paratroopers, and put in charge of a German supported puppet state in Northern Italy. The Germans knew the allies were planning a major invasion along the coast of France.
Crossing the English Channel was going to be an enormous challenge. Despite what some want to believe, it was easier in concept that actual implementation. While cries of a second front had been going on for years, it required a vast amount of resources to pull off. You not only needed the men, but they all had to be trained, fed, and properly outfitted. Not just the foot soldiers but also the special units. Then you needed ships not only to bring them over to England, but camps to house them and continue their training. The Army Air Corp needed runways and facilities. The list goes on and on. Imagine a list of needed items that stretches, when laid out flat, from San Francisco to Los Angeles and you get an idea of how enormous an operation this was going to be. And that is just on the planning and supply side.
Then the problem of getting men over to France was a major hurdle. Landing craft at the start of the war were not very good and unreliable. New ones would have to be devised (they were, the Higgins boats) that would allow troops to be dropped off as close to shore as possible. Then you needed accurate intelligence to tell you what the troops were going to face. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had put up every possible fortification on the beaches and the area around. From mines in the water to barbed wire to turrets filled with guns and German troops. Hitler wanted an Atlantic wall and Rommel was pretty darn close in getting it done.
That is why D-Day is important. This was a massive operation unlike anything in history. A full fledged invasion of Europe on a tricky North Atlantic where weather was hardly ever your friend. It did not go to plan, some parts went hideously wrong (landing at wrong places etc). Yet the Allied forces prevailed because of the determination of the soldiers, mostly noncoms and enlisted, to get it done. It came at great cost in lives yet when it was over began the march to push Germany out of many conquered lands. Today some talk down this military success out of some desire to lessen having to celebrate in any way war or military accomplishment. Yet had this invasion not happened or been unsuccessful, the Third Reich likely would have lasted a lot longer or worse perhaps not fallen at all.
Further Information & Suggested Reading
Ambrose, Stephen (1994) . D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Gilbert, Martin (1989). The Second World War: A Complete History. New York: H. Holt.
Keegan, John (1994). Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris. New York: Penguin Books.
Ryan, Cornelius (1959). The Longest Day. New York: Simon & Schuster.
New “Titanic” Mural Unveiled at Titanic Belfast (Travel Agent Central, 29 May 2019) The mural is a collaboration between local artists Terry Bradley and Friz, and it aims to attract crowds by shining a spotlight on the city’s history, as well as its contemporary art movement. The recreation of Terry Bradley’s “Docker’s Rest” is located at Hickson’s Point, Titanic Belfast’s newest shipyard-themed hospitality space, which serves up traditional music, food and drink for locals and visitors alike. The mural is appropriately placed, as it depicts men from the Sailortown and the docks, and it showcases Belfast’s maritime heritage as well as the city’s traditions of murals and hospitality. https://www.travelagentcentral.com/destinations/new-terry-bradley-and-friz-mural-unveiled-at-titanic-belfast
Model maker builds 8ft Titanic in his dining room (Bolton News, 31 May 2019) Martin Barton’s eight-foot model of The Titanic, which is on display in his Mackenzie Street home, is causing curious passers-by to ring on his bell asking to take a closer look. “Only this morning a woman who was taking her young son to school came in to have a look. The little lad was so amazed that he was jumping up and down with excitement,” said Mr Barton, 79. https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/17675988.titanic-achievement-is-a-tourist-attraction/
Titanic II is sailing in 2022 and will follow the same route as the original ship (Belfast Live,25 May 2019) Titanic II, a ship from Australian company Blue Star Line, is set to sail on its maiden voyage in 2022. To pay tribute to the original ship, Titanic II will be sailing on the same route as the liner, which famously sank back in 1912 after crashing into an iceberg during its maiden voyage between Southampton and New York City. The project has been a few years in the making with the company first announcing plans to build the ship in 2013, and while there were several models and tests already taking place, the venture was stalled during some financial disputes. https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/titanic-ii-sailing-2022-follow-16331485?_ga=2.198099751.920686984.1559527284-1850300768.1559527284
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