Saturday, June 05, 2004

be glad you weren't there

Richard Norton-Taylor was born on D-day. But he still had a narrow escape.

As I recalled 10 years ago - in the naive belief that 50 years would be the end of public celebrations - my mother (my father was helping to liberate Rome at the time) described later how, just before going into labour, she heard about the Normandy landings on the radio news. "I was worried, though, as the matron kept coming in to inquire what I was going to call my son. I thought that something must be wrong with the baby - but the press had been calling to see if any boys had been born that day, and was I going to christen him Bernard (after Montgomery) or Dwight (after Eisenhower)?"

What burden such ties would have become. Not so heavy, perhaps, as those borne by one of my D-day contemporaries. He was named Dee-Day Rodney White - HMS Rodney was the battleship which pounded German positions on the Normandy coast - by his father, a Hastings fisherman.

"He must have been pissed or something," Dee-Day told me when I interviewed him on our 50th birthday. He has had to endure such predictable quips as "See you, Dee-Day, after tomorrow".