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D Day Revisited

It is almost unbelievable to think that when we were kids, World War II was only a decade or two before us. Now it is part of the history curriculum in schools along with the French Revolution and American Independence!

But for most of us, our parents lived through World War II and while we may not have fully appreciated what it was all about when we were young, today most of us have a real awareness of how difficult it must have been. Food rationing, men disappearing, bombs dropping from above and the total uncertainty of how it was all going to end made it a very difficult time for everyone.

D-day, June 6th 1944, marked the start of the Normandy landings, a major turning point in the war and commencement of retaking occupied western Europe by the Allies.

This included the largest seaborn invasion in history, involving five army divisions in the initial assault and over 7,000 ships plus 11,000 aircraft. In total, an amazing 75,215 British and Canadian troops and 57,500 American troops were landed by sea on D-Day.

This year is the 70th anniversary of this extraordinary event and throughout the UK there are various activities taking place to mark this.

However, one slightly different take on it has been done by the French who have created a virtual world covering the technology behind the Normandy landings in the most amazing detail. An operation of this level was a logistical nightmare and required a mass of new ideas. Leading engineers of the day had to come up with a range of remarkable technological innovations to transport and land the personnel and equipment.

To celebrate and record this aspect of the D-Day landings, a unique recreation of the event has been put together by Dassault Systems in Paris who say their amazing D-Day virtual recreation has been designed to safeguard the memory of some of the remarkable engineering achievements of D-Day and preserve it for future generations.

Called D-Day's Sunken Secrets, the virtual footage unfolds a vivid blow-by-blow account of the tumultuous events of D-Day and reveals how the Allies' intricate planning and advanced technology was vital to assure the success of the most ambitious and risky military operation ever launched.

After gathering an immense amount of detail and data, Dassault Systems have recreated the Normandy landings from the original blueprints into an amazing virtual world. They have painstakingly scanned and recreated the landing craft, gliders and landscapes and virtually reconstructed the Mulberry artificial harbour for a virtual invasion.

The Mulberry Harbour was in itself an extraordinary technological feat. A team from the Royal Engineers created an artificial harbour which was built here and then transported across the channel and assembled off the coast at Arromanches to unload all the supplies and men for the battle.

D-Days Sunken Secrets will be available on line and also shown on certain giant screens. Google it or visit www.channel5.com/shows/d-days-sunken-secrets/episodes/d-days-sunken-secrets

There is also a DVD version which can be pre-ordered here.


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