It was hard not to feel for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with his toe curling Freudian slip at the D-Day commemoration.
His reference to “Obama beach” was sadly emblematic of the way in which the UK’s role in the liberation of Europe has been written out of the celluloid historical record.
From being disappeared by Hollywood from the naval intelligence war that cracked the enigma codes to the D-Day landings.
Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” manages one mention of the British contribution to the biggest amphibious landing in history.
It is one line of script that has Tom Hanks character stating at British general Montgomery is “overrated”.
For the record the British and Canadian troops totalled 75,000 troops while the USA contributed 57,000.
The attempt by President Sarkosy to style D-Day as a Franco-American triumph is beyond contempt as is the failure to invite the British head of state.
Much is made of the landings at Obama beach because it was a bloody disaster.
The British and Canadian landings at Gold, Sword and Juno went as perfectly to plan as such things could.
The British airborne and glider operations were textbook especially the brilliant operation to secure the legendary Pegasus Bridge. The US airborne, by contrast, troops were scattered all over the Normandy countryside.
Overall D-Day was brilliant planned and courageously executed.
What is important about D-Day for the British is that 6th June 1944 was the last day in history that Britain really mattered.
Once safely landed on the continent the power of the USA was increasingly asserted over the British.
Eisenhower’s’ slapping down of Montgomery in favour of Patten has been well documented.
After D-Day it was the US army and the Red army who would be the main players in the destruction of the Third Reich.
65 years later the USA’s power has grown and the importance of Britain on the world stage has decreased with each passing decade.
Britain still wants to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the USA it is just that they are no longer able to.
Kevin Myer’s recent piece on the senior coalition military officers in Afghanistan probably says more about the contrasting fortunes of the D-Day allies than anything else.
The American Lt General Stanley McChrystal is all business with a Special Forces background and three university degrees.
His British number two is Major General Barney White-Spunner, an old Etonian who is a member of the Blues and Royals. He edits a horsey magazine and his wife is called “Moo”.
Before Afghanistan our Barney was the top man in Basra, Iraq.
When he took command of the British garrison there British troops were in harms way from the Shia militias.
Shortly after this video was recorded Barney boy, two weeks into his command the Blues and Royals chap showed real leadership qualities by heading for the ski slopes.
The Shia militias, of course, ran the British, out of Basra.
The British left their base in the town as part of a shameful deal with the Mehdi army.
Safely in Basra airbase Al-Sadr’s men butchered at least twenty women for crimes against Islam while the British cowered in the airbase.
Iraq’s second city was eventually re-taken from the Mehdi army by the Iraqi army and, you guessed it, the US Marine Corps.
As the fighting raged in the streets of Basra the British “provided over watch.”
Today in Afghanistan it is rumoured that the British are preparing to pull out of Helmand province within the next year.
The US is preparing to put 20,000 troops in Helmand-more than double the current British deployment.
The Americans still hold the British SAS and the Paras in high regard but that is little more than 2,000 within and army of 100,000.
In 2009 Great Britain sends its young men into war poorly equipped.
The US soldiers had a nickname for their British comrades in Iraq “the borrowers.”
There is a book waiting to be written about the equipment scandals currently afflicting the modern British army.
British soldiers die because they are in flimsy vehicles. The Americans are in huge beasts (MRAPs) that are impervious to Taleban roadside bombs.
Within twenty years the British army will be comparable to that of Denmark or Sweden. Small professional and perfectly adequate for national security.
The days of the British Tommy winning glory in far off fields is coming to an end.
I n an attempt to state to the world that Britannia is still on the waves, if no longer able to rule them, the UK will splurge most of its defence budget on two aircraft carriers.
Remembering D-Day matters for the British because it is a reminder that, like the has been boxer, they used to be somebody.
On “Obama beach” the bumbling British Prime Minister let slip that the Westminster political class realise that they know that Britain no longer matters on the global stage anymore.