History

14th May 2004 at 01:00
Draw up an advertising campaign for a D-Day commemorative event, or organise one. Look on Imperial War Museum's website: www.iwm.org.uk

Students might consider how the D-Day preparations and the early stages of the campaign were perceived by civilians in Britain. The experience of Portsmouth engineering workers is one theme being explored by the Museum of Naval Firepower: www.explosion.org.uk Other local museums will be advertising their activities at the National Virtual Museum: www.24hourmuseum.org.uk

One of the many fascinating options is technology. The wealth of ingenuity, technological brilliance and blind faith in the landings can be seen in the gliders, the special planes used to jam enemy radar, the floating harbours which were sailed across the Channel and the PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean). Students will enjoy looking at the elaborate hoaxes laid on by the Allies to confuse their enemies. Students in the North-west can visit the North West Grid for Learning and study interviews with paratroopers and the women who packed the parachutes. They may be able to work with local veterans to add their experiences to the BBC People's War project: www.bbc.co.ukdnaww2

Students might organise a debate on the true significance of D-Day. Does it, for example, deserve greater prominence than the Battle of Britain, the bombing campaign or the Eastern Front? And they might look at the cultural impact. American troops brought and Coca Cola, chewing gum and jazz music.

Their influence remains. A further cultural dimension lends itself to debate. It has been calculated that casualty rates (not totals) per week in the D-Day campaigns were higher than at the Battle of the Somme. Why do these two campaigns hold very different positions in our national memory?

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