— Marion Milne (@MarionMilne) 16 Mai 2014
IF I DON'T COME HOME: LETTERS FROM D-DAY ITV 5 June 10.35pm. & of course beautifully narrated by fabulous Matthew MacFadyen! @Matt_Macfadyen
Their letters are brought to life by actors including Ben Lamb (as Alastair Bannerman), Samuel West (as Norman Skinner), Seamus Morrison (as Glen Dickin) and Tom Rhys-Harries (as Maurice Hardstaff) and the programme is narrated by Matthew MacFadyen.
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- If I Don't Come Home – Letters from D-Day (ITV) was, as you might expect, a three-sofa job. That's like a three-hanky job, but you sob directly into the sofa to save time. Matthew Macfadyen narrated the story of D-day, interspersed with extracts, performed with grace, delicacy and perfect restraint by Samuel West, Ben Lamb, Tom Rhys-Harries and Seamus Morrison – from the last letters home from four of the 156,000 men who stormed the beaches at Normandy 70 years ago yesterday.
Captain Alastair Bannerman was in essence a pacifist, who "finally, in the fact of the foul poison of Nazi doctrine which would destroy the flowering of our children's minds," decided he must leave his wife and two young sons to go and fight.
Maurice Hardstaff, 22, wrote to his wife: "It was just stupendous … It made a lump come in my throat when I realised they and I had waited four and a half years for this moment and that it had finally come." It was the Boy's Own adventure.
Glenn Dickin, also 22, the youngest son of his widowed mother, had never seen action. He wrote urging her not to worry about him – "I'm a pretty capable guy" – and promising to repaint the veranda when he got home.
Insurance salesman-turned-army captain Norman Skinner's thoughts were of his wife and two daughters. "I shall always be grateful to the powers above for having been able to be with you – and to have been loved by you. I am sure that I will be with you again soon, and for good. Please give my fondest love to my Ann and my Janey. God bless and keep you all safe for me."
Maurice made it home safely. Glenn's mother got a letter from his company chaplain saying that he had found her son's body covered with flowers by French civilians trying to express their gratitude to the young soldier who fell in the cause of their liberation. Norman's daughter remembers watching the telegraph boy walking up the path with the news that he had been killed. "My mother said that I always knew when he was coming home."
Alastair was captured and returned home in 1945. He had a third son a few years later. All able to flourish under an unclouded sky.
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