It's been a couple of years since this post: https://www.thehourlounge.com/en/vacheron-constantin-discussions/june-6-1944-593069, so I feel it is again time to bring the V&C military watches together for a portrait on this very auspicious day. Please feel free to add your military timepieces, V&C or otherwise.
The three bottom watches are WWII naval pieces (Royal Navy and Kriegsmarine), while the top two with radium numbers are WWI US Army. All have been profiled here before and should be readily found with the search function for anyone wishing more details.
The invasion of Fortress Europe was one of the most closely guarded secrets, revealed to the world by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons with these words:
I have to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armade of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time.
Scale models have been an interest since childhood and this military vignette was commissioned to honor the Allies landing at Normandy in 1944. Represented here is a Canadian Firefly tank and crew, proceeding inland towards the unknown. The Firefly was an up-gunned American Sherman, fitted with the British 17-pounder anti-tank gun. It was realistically the only Allied tank that could take out the German Panthers and Tigers they were sure to meet.
A squadron of four tanks was lucky to have one Firefly. The Germans knew of this long-barrelled menace and had instructions to target them first. A partial solution was two-fold; the barrel was painted to disguise it's length, and many Canadian units welded spare tracks to the front hull as "insurance".
Because of the gun's massive size within the rather small turret, the radio operator's position was eliminated so the Firefly was actually crewed by one less person than a standard Sherman tank. It was also very typical to find the Allied tanks loaded down on the outside with spare gear and supplies, due in part to the cramped quarters within and the fact they were proceeding in the early days of the invasion without established supply lines.
This particular tank, of A Squadon, Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment, was to score a tremendous victory on August 8th when it met up with counter-attacking forces led by German tank ace Michael Wittmann. Although there is much historical debate about who actually destroyed Wittmann and his Tiger I, the latest research has established this tank was in-fact the closest with the means to do the job! Of course, that is still months ahead...
So, today spare a thought and raise a glass to those who landed on June 6, 1944