D Day remembered – June 2024

D Day remembered

At their meeting on Monday, Rotary paid its own tribute to the lives lost on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In particular we remembered 2 special individuals who have never really received due recognition for their contribution and bravery.

Many will have watched the ceremony from the British Normandy Memorial standing above ‘Gold’ beach, and in particular the silhouettes of the 1475 soldiers who died on invasion day. The assumption for many is that they were all men – not so – 2 were women. They were there on D-Day but did not actually land with the invasion. Nevertheless their role was vital.

Nursing Sisters Dorothy Field and Mollie Evershed were on a hospital ship, ready to receive wounded soldiers. They worked continuously and tireless every day, sailing back and forth to Southampton.

Both nurses died on 07 August when the hospital ship struck a mine just off the French coast. With the ship rapidly sinking, and with complete disregard for their own safety, both nurses repeatedly went down to the lower deck wards and between them brought up 75 wounded men, several of which had had amputations, to the lifeboats. Sisters Dorothy and Mollie could have got into a lifeboat, but they went down one more time and did not resurface before the ship sank. Sadly 106 others also perished. Dorothy was just 31 and Mollie only 28. Mollie was engaged to be married.

The silhouettes at the memorial are 8 feet high. The designer said “ they are giants because of the enormity of their sacrifice”.

The only official recognition Dorothy and Mollie received was a ‘commendation for brave conduct’ on behalf of King George VI.

There are 22,442 names carved on the stones of the memorial, and these are all soldiers under British command who lost their lives in the 12 week Normandy campaign. Dorothy and Mollie are the only 2 female names on the memorial stones.

For Dorothy and Mollie, and for the other 22,440 names, Rotary will remember them.

 

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