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25% of soldiers who took part in the D Day landings never spoke about it to family, new research reveals

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As the nation prepares to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on the 6th June, Ancestry has released a new report looking into how little Brits know about their ancestor’s role on the day.

Ancestry has discovered that only 25% of the 61,715 soldiers that took part in the landings ever spoke to family members about the operation, meaning that many of the heroic stories could soon be lost.
 
The report goes on to find that:
  • A third (33%) of Brits with a D-Day ancestor have lost all records of their family members story – including photos, letters or documents – over time
  • Only 15% of people that are aware of their ancestor’s involvement in D-Day spoke openly about it, with a further 15% saying they never brought it up
  • 17% of Brits have no idea whether they have a relative that took part in the landings
  • 31% of family members didn’t want to discuss the landings as they had lost too many friends, 32% simply wanted to put the day behind them and 24% were too modest to discuss their role

Free D-Day collection

To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day operation and in a move designed to help Brits uncover their wartime family history, Ancestry has released a new D-Day collection available to all UK and Irish users for free. The new collection includes over 100 records, including war diaries and photographs from the day, sourced from 42 different regiments around the UK.
 
The collection provides a fascinating, and sometimes harrowing, insight into the operation, including a blow-by-blow account of the day from the log of HMS Belfast, a series of handwritten notes from navy captains and close-up photos of thousands of those on the front line. The collection aims to help tell the story of the day where traditional records are not yet available, as well as offering users the chance to discover the important part that their ancestor played in D-Day.
 
Russell James of Ancestry said: “D-Day veterans were of a different generation, where not showing emotion, not wanting to be seen as a hero or feeling the need to keep a stiff upper-lip prevented people from talking through events that must have been profoundly difficult and tragic. Equally, in the decades after the war, people wanted to simply move on. However, it’s a shame that so many personal stories were not told, and records were lost or simply thrown away. Our newly launched D-Day collection is available for free and allows those with family links to the landings the chance to uncover more details about the role their family members played.”
 
Explore the D-Day collection at Ancestry.
 
QUICK LINK: Make sure you remember your D-Day heroes. Discover how to trace their war years with the June issue of Family Tree.

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