A D-day thought

On the seventieth anniversary of D-day I thought I’d share a war story.

My dad was on Normandy beach so long ago. He rarely spoke about it, but I remember him telling that the waves crested pink with blood. In his Higgins boat of the 49 soldiers he was the only one to reach shore alive.

But the story I have is one about sugar and cake. Just before the invasion, my dad was stationed in Torquay. Just 19 years of age, he and his fellow soldiers in a strange country were a confused mixture of amazed and homesick. England at that time was under harsh rationing, and the Americans had money and access to supplies that were rarely seen.

One day my dad is leaving the base when a Brit approaches him saying “sailor, sailor, have you got your ration ?”

Dad warily replied he had when the fellow offered “If you’ve got sugar, we have the rest. If you just come home with me my wife can make us a cake.”

I don’t know if they were young or old, but I recall Dad telling us how excited they were, and how she mixed things up and soon that had a cake to share.

This is one of my favorite war stories, where in the shadow of a great darkness people find comfort in a shared piece of cake.

Some day I think I’ll take a trip to Torquay and maybe have a piece of cake.

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34 Comments on “A D-day thought”

  1. Amazing story. Do you mind if I tell it in my classroom?

  2. Such a touching story. The small precious moments which become a life time memories.

  3. roadwax says:

    Thank you for your encouragement Bill. I hope you get time to walk on Utah and Omaha. As a June – December 1944 left-handed historian, you are welcome here any time.

    • billgncs says:

      I did walk there about 2 years ago. It was cathartic for my sister and me and very powerful.

      Of all the memories, one that remains strong is a little note in the wall in the building near the German cemetery where a German soldier wrote something like: “We slaughtered them, drove them back into the sea – and still they kept coming.”

  4. This is a warm story. I hope you get to Torquay and find the same family. Sorry for your dad experience on the beach though.

  5. elainecanham says:

    Don’t just stop in Torquay. It’s quite a staid place these days. But Devon is lovely, and it is famous for its cream teas. Great story. thanks.

    • billgncs says:

      Thanks for the heads up. It’s been some years since I was over in Sussex, Hove and Brighton and London to play rugby. But that was an enjoyable trip.

  6. what a great story…..everyone needs sweetness to complete a special day…
    Yes you should go and eat cake….
    Thank you for sharing such a heart-felt story
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

  7. twoscamps says:

    Loved this story, Bill. Hope you make it to Torquay someday and eat your cake too! :)

  8. Resa says:

    Neat story! Thanks!

  9. Eric Alagan says:

    Heart warming story, Bill, and I do hope you make it to Torquay for that piece of cake.

    • billgncs says:

      With your family history – I think you understand how important it is to sometimes reach out and touch the past. – not at the expense of the future, but to reaffirm that line that connects us.

  10. Clanmother says:

    You must go to Torquay!!!

  11. Love this story and that sounds like a brilliant plan Bill!
    Diana xo


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