We should all take part in D-Day commemorations

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LESLEY KEATING: A white-knuckle pursuit ending with a lesson in trust

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You know you’re getting old when you start to develop an insatiable appetite for knowledge.

Facts and figures take pride of place when it comes to allocating time and you put aside socialising and/or social media to read about history.

My current obsession is D-Day, the 70th anniverary of which we’ll commemorate next month, and the time either side of it.

My interest in D-Day began with my great-uncle, who told me of his experiences. He was laughing and joking as he crossed the Channel, only to see the men that he had travelled with gunned down in front of him. He was one of the lucky ones who made it back.

As hard as I try, I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for those who took part in the invasion.

I’ve just devoured a book called Voices From D-Day by Jonathan Bastable. The stories in it are compelling and absolutely fascinating. Many were written by men who were mere teenagers at the time.

It’s hard to comprehend that some of the men who went through that hell are still alive today. The fury of it feels as if it belongs out of our time, not part of recent history.

But that’s what it is, which is why we should all take part in June’s commemorations.

This area is closely linked to events on the Normandy coastline. The D-Day armada set sail from our waters and the air armada from our fields. Our houses were commissioned by the military, some of our streets were built as part of the war effort and our relatives were here.

The roots of military history are deeply intertwined with the streets that we walk now.

I was really impressed with The News’ D-Day 70 48-page souvenir (on sale now, price £2) – and not just because I write this column.

The guide combines stunning pictures with interesting facts, but also details the events which are taking place.

For instance, no-one should miss the Red Arrows, who will be blasting acrosss our skies on June 5, while amphibious vehicles re-enact the landings, but this time at Southsea.

The area is coming alive with events, and that’s thanks to the men we are remembering.