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.