My late father was amongst those who landed on Sword beach on the morning of 6th June 1944. The battle for Normandy was as hard and bloody as anything in the Great War, with six thousand casualties a day. Outside Caen, in a walled orchard in a small village called Cambes-en-pleine, he was wounded by grenade splinters and missed the next bit, getting back only in time to cross the Rhine. As a child I didn't understand the contents of the old shirt-box filled with post-war photos of CWGC headstones, all bearing his regimental crest. They were of course the record of his comrades who never made it home.
The headstones are still there of course, but they may not be the same ones that my father photographed. As the Mail reports;
Many veterans wondered if there was something different about the place this year. Indeed there was. A few years ago, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission noticed many of its Second World War graves were deteriorating at a much faster pace than those from 1914-18. It turned out that as Britain emerged from chaos in 1945, Whitehall – shamefully – requisitioned all top grade Portland stone to repair government buildings. The commission ended up with the cast-offs. So it has spent two years and £4million replacing 8,000 of the most vulnerable Normandy graves.The pomp and pleasure of shiny-arse Whitehall bureaucrats took precedence over the memory of men whose lives had been lost for this thing even then. And as John Miller's comments suggest, nothing has changed.