My Grandfather, Major Hugh Pond (the one on the right), flew in one of the six gliders that carried the 9th Battalion into France on 6 June 1944 as part of the D-Day Landings. He was a Lieutenant in the Paras at the time – at the ripe old age of 21. The glider he and his platoon were flying in were in crash landed but he survived and led the soldiers into battle. Unlike so many others he survived.
It’s the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings next week. My Grandfather, Grandmother and three brothers have arrived in Normandy for the anniversary. It was touch and go whether he’d be up to it, but, he’s there. The sad thing is he mentally as sharp as he ever was, it’s his body that is wearing out. At 91, he is one of the last surviving soldiers in his Battalion and will be given Legion d’Honneur, the highest decoration you can get in France. I wish I could be with them as I expect it will be an experience like no other. Living so far away means it is impossible, but you have to get used to this kind of thing when you’re an expat.
I have not and hopefully never will have to experience what living in a war is like. I can not imagine how terrifying it must have been for all of the young soldiers that were sent into battle not knowing what fate had in store for them. I often think how different things could have been. The funny thing is my Grandfather doesn’t think the world is better is a better place today.
I am eternally thankful to my Grandfather and indeed every other soldier who has fought for our country in order that we can can all lead the lives we lead today.