Absent Friends?


Dr Lachlan Grant, senior historian at the Australian War Memorial, highlights the important role Australian forces played in Normandy – despite their ‘absence’.


Sqn Ldr Donald Smith (standing) of 453 Sqn RAAF, with his pilots at a café in Bayeux, July 1944. Seated, L to R: Fg Offs John Olver and Kenneth Lawrence, Flt Lt Vernon Lancaster, Fg Off Michael West, and Flt Lt Patrick McDade.

The alliance that stood off the Normandy coast encompassed many nations. Among them, the British, Canadians and Americans had jurisdiction over the landing beaches, Dutch and Norwegian ships were included in the taskforce, Polish and Czech-crewed aircraft took to the skies and a small Free French commando force landed on Sword. However, one staunch ally of Britain, which had stood shoulder to shoulder in North Africa and in the Far East, appears to have been oddly absent – Australia.

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