Australian military historians take an understandable pride in the observation attributed to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as the allied invasion force approached the Normandy coast in the early morning of June 6, 1944, writes former ALP Senator Stephen Loosely in a favourable review in The Australian (13-14/6) of a new book “The Battle for Normandy” by Antony Beevoir.
Turning to his chief of staff, Freddie de Guingand, Field Marshal Montgomery remarked: "I wish we had the 9th Australian with us this morning."
“The Australian 9th Infantry Division had played the pivotal role in the opening of the battle of El Alamein in the North African desert in late 1942. In 1944, the Australians were fighting in the Pacific.
"As commander of the land forces for the invasion, under the overall authority of general Dwight D. Eisenhower, Montgomery was leading American, Canadian and British forces as well as those of other Allies from German-occupied countries, from Free French to Poles.
"Some of these units had fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and thought they had done their share. Others were new divisions, untested in battle.”
The review is worth reading and Mr. Loosely recommends the book.