Tag Archives: veterans

Veteran: Ernie Corvese

On D-Day, Ernie Corvese landed on Omaha Beach and had not returned to Normandy since.

His demolition team was among the first to arrive on the Normandy coastline and were sent to destroy hedgehogs (X-shaped beach obstacles) that the Germans had littered along the beaches.

IMG_1419He visited Normandy for the first time in 70 years this June and we spoke to him at the Band of Brothers signing in Bayeux.


More to follow…

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Fallen heroes: Masha Bruskina

During my visit to le Mémorial de Caen I learned about the public hanging of Masha Bruskina who was only 17 years old in Minsk on 26th October 1941.

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the last year will know that I usually prefer to post positive and celebratory stories about the heroes of the Second World War. However the story of this hero particularly moved me while I was in Normandy for the 69th anniversary. I therefore feel as though she should be mentioned on this blog for that reason.

Born in Minsk in 1924, Masha Bruskina lived with her family in the Jewish ghetto after the Germans’ arrival in July 1941. A volunteer nurse in a German-run hospital where Soviet prisoners of war were treated, Masha was also an active member of the Communist Party and a Resistance fighter. She was known to make false ID papers and also supplied civilian clothing to help prisoners escape. She was denounced by a patient in the hospital who was working with the Germans and was arrested in 1941. She was hanged with two other Belarusian partisans on 26th October 1941.

The photo I have included in the post was disseminated by the Soviets in honour of the sacrifice of the Communist Resistance movement against Nazi barbarity. However the identity of Masha was only revealed by historians in 1996. Why? Because it was inconceivable for Stalin that a Jewish girl could represent such a heroic figure for Soviet Resistance.

It is important not only to celebrate the success of our surviving heroes but also their fallen comrades.

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#DDay70: Juno Beach Centre

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During our visit to Northern France for the 70th D-Day Anniversary, Maggie and I visited the Juno Beach Centre.

One of the highlights from my trip to Normandy last year – apart from all the Camembert and bread I was scoffing down each morning, noon and night – was my visit to this Canadian Second World War museum. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War, of which 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day.

Canadian students are employed at the museum and are all of a similar age to the average soldier who would’ve landed on Juno Beach during D-Day. Juno Beach was assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division of General Keller who was supported by 48 Commando Royal Marines.

Last year, I was informed on our tour that the fighting in Normandy lasted considerably longer than expected after D-Day. German soldiers resisted and were pushed to the limit until their final collapse at the end of the Battle of Normandy. Paris was liberated on the 25th of August by General Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division and the American 4th Division.

The Battle of Normandy had been long and fierce and took the lives of some 37,000 allied soldiers and 55,000 Germans. In addition to this, the landscape had been devastated and there had been around 20,000 civilian casualties.

You can read more about Juno Beach here.

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Follow me on Twitter @AnnieCDarling and use the hashtag #anniesddayblog to share your thoughts, images and videos with me!

Watch the preparations for the D-Day Academy Veterans Lunch in Normandy

Follow me for information and reports about the 70th D-Day commemorations on Twitter at @AnnieCDarling.

With thanks to the D-Day Academy, and the Utah Beach Band.