The Shores of Normandy
June 11, 2014 12:27 PM   Subscribe

On June 6th 1944 Jim Radford, aged just 15, was serving on the HM Rescue tug Empire Larch at Gold Beach tasked, amongst other things, with building the breakwater and later the mulberry harbour there. 70 years later an 85 year old Jim stood up in front of a packed Albert Hall in London and, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra, sung his autobiographical composition - The Shores of Normandy.

The version linked above via the BBC site is perhaps the best online. But if that doesn’t work you can find another version on YouTube here.

On the night, Jim was asked how he felt to remember the events of that day, 70 years on:
Glad and sad. I’m glad that I survived. I’ve had seventy years of a good life, and very sad every time I think of D-Day, and of all the poor devils who never made it back. And that’s the people I think about, on this day, every year.
On the song itself:
It’s actually the first song I ever wrote. And the clue to why I wrote it is in the last verse. I didn’t go back to Arromanches [Gold Beach] until about 1960, and I didn’t expect to be moved. But when I did go back, and stood on a beach that I’d last seen covered in bodies, and saw children building sandcastles, I wept.

And that’s when I decided to write this song.
The song is set to the tune of Raglan Road (The Dawning of the Day).
posted by garius (5 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

That was beautiful and heartbreaking. To go through that at 15... Thank you for posting.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:26 PM on June 11, 2014

What lesbiassparrow said. My heart weighs 30tons right now.
posted by hanoixan at 2:22 PM on June 11, 2014

Beautiful. June 6 was my mother's birthday, she was teaching school on D Day. I love Raglan Road but these words were even better. Thanks for posting it.
posted by mermayd at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2014

Thanks so much for posting that. Floods of tears.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 10:47 PM on June 11, 2014

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