They won’t be fighting them on the beaches next month to mark the anniversary of D-Day. A planned re-enactment in Devon has been cancelled — on the orders of elf’n’safety.
It was scheduled to take place on Saunton Sands and the dunes at Braunton Burrows, where 10,000 troops trained for Operation Overlord in 1944.
But after a full risk assessment the site has been declared ‘downright dangerous’. Organisers blame ‘blown sand’ and ‘surface water’. Everybody back on the landing craft!
They won’t be fighting them on the beaches next month to mark the anniversary of D-Day
A convoy of military vehicles, including Sherman tanks, Jeeps and half-tracks, has also been scaled back because of the Covid pandemic.
During the war, the North Devon coast was chosen for invasion preparations because of its similarity to Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy. Blown sand and surface water were the least of their problems.
Twenty-odd years ago, I wrote a spoof column wondering what might have happened if the military had attempted the D-Day landings under modern elf’n’safety restrictions.
I think we have our answer.
Not only that, but these days the Army would have to take into account not just safety concerns, but also diversity and Covid-security considerations.
On the eve of the invasion in 1944, General Montgomery issued a stirring message to all troops under his command. Today, it would have to go something like this . . .
The time has come to deal the enemy a terrific blow. To us is given the honour of striking a blow for freedom which will live in history.
We have a great and righteous cause. Let us pray that ‘The Lord Mighty In Battle’ will go forth with our armies and that His special providence will aid us in the struggle.
When I say ‘The Lord’ I mean no offence to non-Christians. The Army is open to those of all faiths, and indeed none. This is the most inclusive expeditionary force ever assembled, as a result of our recent recruitment campaign.
We are especially proud of all those members of the trans, non-binary and snowflake communities who have chosen to join us on this great adventure.
During the war, the North Devon coast was chosen for invasion preparations because of its similarity to Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy. Blown sand and surface water were the least of their problems
Advance detachments of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) have already embarked for Omaha and Utah beaches, where they will be building wheelchair ramps and digging gender-fluid latrines.
There may be a world war on, but I must also remind you that we are still engaged in an unprecedented global struggle against another mortal enemy.
Anyone who has still not had their second coronavirus jab must report to the medical corps without further delay. You will not be allowed to board the landing craft without a valid Covid passport and proof of a negative PCR test.
Once ashore you must wear your face coverings at all times and remember to observe social distancing guidelines.
By the time we disembark, REME should have marked out the correct distances on the beach with black and yellow tape.
I would remind you that this is a smoke-free invasion. Smoking and vaping on the battlefield is strictly forbidden, punishable by court martial and execution by firing squad.
Your safety is our number one priority. Please ensure you wear hi-visibility jackets at all times, especially when under fire. This will enable the stretcher bearers to locate you without delay.
You should also wear the ear protectors provided. The Army is unable to offer compensation to those who fail to comply and suffer hearing loss as a result.
This follows a £50,000 lawsuit from an ex-gunner who sued the Royal Artillery for compensation claiming he had been deafened by howitzers and flying in helicopters without a noise-cancelling headset.
Anyone who has still not had their second coronavirus jab must report to the medical corps without further delay. You will not be allowed to board the landing craft without a valid Covid passport and proof of a negative PCR test. (The re-enactment is seen in pre-Covid times in 2018)
To ensure all personnel strictly observe the revised rules of engagement, in accordance with the European Convention On Human Rights, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Equality Act 2010, a team of qualified Government lawyers will be accompanying us on the invasion.
Under no circumstances are you to fire at the enemy unless given written permission in triplicate. Please be aware that you may be put on trial for murder up to 50 years after hostilities have ceased.
Human resources advisers will be on hand to offer counselling to anyone who feels their mental health has been adversely affected by the invasion.
Once a bridgehead has been established, safe spaces will be provided wherever possible.
On an operational note, we regret that the invasion will have to go ahead without air support. As you may be aware, the Royal Air Force has recently introduced a net-zero emissions policy.
A squadron of the RAF’s new electric-powered planes took off from Biggin Hill yesterday but because of range limitations they all came down in the sea half an hour later.
A couple of Halifax bombers, left over from World War II, were scrambled from the RAF Museum at Hendon and pressed into service to tow a fleet of gliders. Unfortunately, they crashed into the giant Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, near Brighton, and sank to the bottom of the English Channel with the loss of all on board.
The Ministry of Defence did manage to commandeer a police drone, but this only contrived to home in on an elderly couple out walking their dog and drinking peppermint tea on Omaha Beach before it was shot out of the sky by a German anti-aircraft battery.
In the absence of serviceable fighter aircraft, RAF High Command has borrowed a Russian Spitfire and is now considering catapulting manned hang-gliders from the deck of the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
A trebuchet has been put on standby at Newhaven.
As you cross the Channel today, you may encounter a flotilla of dinghies containing migrants heading in the opposite direction.
Do not engage, as this may be in contravention of human rights laws.
The Royal Navy apologises that it is unable to provide protection, as it is currently fully occupied dealing with French fishing vessels blockading Jersey.
Oh, and I almost forgot. France is still on the Government’s amber travel list.
So if any of you are lucky enough to make it back to Blighty you will be required to quarantine for ten days.
But with stout hearts and with enthusiasm for the contest, let us go forward to victory and plant the rainbow flag on Omaha Beach.
And finally, remember to watch out for blown sand and surface water. It’s downright dangerous out there.
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