From Raglan Road to the shores of Normandy. Jim Radford's glorious D-Day tribute
June 06, 2019
Forgive me for being late with this but, come to think of it, the timing is right.
On French news this lunchtime, amid generous and impressive coverage of commemorations on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this song popped up. I realise the story may well be old news for some.
Jim Radford, a veteran of the landings, wrote and recorded this moving evocation of an exceptional example of man's capacity to give everything in a noble cause.
The defeat of Hitler was just such a cause and what happened in Normandy on June 6 1944 was hugely instrumental - as, of course, was the mighty effort (and sacrifice) of Russians far to the east - in bringing about that defeat.
Jim was a Merchant Navy galley boy, all of 15, serving on the Empire Larch. It was his first deep sea voyage and it took him to Normandy to help build the Mulberry Harbour which enabled the Royal Navy to transport men, vehicles and material to the beaches.
He went back 25 years later and was reduced to tears as he watched children playing where soldiers had died.
This is his song, which he calls The Shores of Normandy. He told reporters it took him a long time to get the words right. But he got there. It's a wonderful song, set to the same Irish air the Dubliners' Luke Kelly used when putting Patrick Kavanagh's poem Raglan Road to music.
Jim wrote and recorded the song in aid of the Normandy Memorial Trust