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Friday, 6 June 2014

The Beaches of the D-Day Landings

and something comes over you...

Omaha, Juno, Gold, Utah, Sword
thousands and thousands of ships

you just can’t imagine

we didn’t expect opposition
a clear run
on the beaches

the noise
the confusion

the whole sea shore
a blue, blue

surprising things

a warship
into the air


the smell of cordite
rather like blood

shrouding the detail

It's the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings today so to commemorate the occasion, here is Denise Myers'  ‘and something comes over you...’

It features beautifully still pictures of the D-Day beaches as they are today. And here you can see the a multimedia piece with the images accompanied by the memories of those who made those landings.

I still want to know which beaches are which, but I think I might just like things spelled out too much.

2014 is a year of significant wartime anniversaries.  In this cultural context, ‘and something comes over you...’ encourages us to consider the space between our contemporary reality and the experience of servicemen involved in the D-Day Landings.  For however much we try to immerse ourselves in the archives, or stand gazing at the horizon, we ‘just can’t imagine’ the sights, sounds and smells of the Normandy Beaches on 6 June, 1944.

The images, made on the D-Day beaches, capture private moments for the strangers who look out to sea.  We cannot know what they are thinking.  The words transcribed onto the surface of the exhibition prints are those of servicemen waiting to get ready to land.  They are snatches of oral history material, words and phrases that any of us might have read or listened to in any of the books or museums we have visited. 

The oral history material can be heard, overlaying the images in the multimedia piece, ‘and something comes over you...’

Thanks to Private Frederick Perkins, Lieutenant Ian Wilson Candalent, Able Seaman Walter Blanchard and Engine Room Artificer Ronald Jesse and IWM Archives.

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