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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Last Living Normandy Swede

The Last Living Normandy Swede fought in a British uniform with Polish insignia, together with the Canadian Army. Here a clip from the Canadian D-Day film "Storming Juno".

I am glad I was sort of wrong. When I wrote my post "D-Day Swedes Forgotten in Sweden" I said I was "sorry to say that we believe that now every Swedish citizen who took part in D-Day has passed away".

Well, yesterday I came to think of that I didn´t have the obituary for Karl Habsburg, a Swedish-Polish volunteer in Normandy. He did not land in Normandy on June 6, but definately was in combat in Normandy and that is more important than the date he arrived. I believed I had heard or read somewhere that he had passed away. But then I checked the net and found out he is still very much alive and I thus could provide a tip for the Swedish daily DN, that today published this article about the Swedes in Normandy. He joined the Polish Army in Britain quite late, in early 1944 via the Polish embassy in Stockholm who put him on a plane of the secret US airline between Sweden and the UK. Although he got no lengthy training he managed to join the 1st Polish Armoured Division in time for the great invasion. His first combat experience was the battle for Caen, where the Poles fought together with the Canadians.

Quite fittingly I today remembered my veteran friends and trips to Normandy by for the first time ever watching "Storming Juno", the Canadian D-Day film (in Sweden called "D-dagen 6 juni 1944"). I must say I was favourably impressed by both the manuscript, cast and look of the movie. It differs from the previous D-Day films not just by totally focusing on the Canadians but also by not having a main hero charachter but rather telling the story of three small units, one airborne, one armoured and one infantry. The teamwork within these units but also between the units. Finally the focus shifts to the surviving (2010) veterans and this is done in a wonderful way.

I have previously blogged about "My Way", a strong war movie that ends with telling the basically true story of the many foreigners (in this case two Koreans!) in German uniform in Normandy. But what is still missing is a full movie about Normandy from a German perspective ("The Last Days of Rommel" is partially about Normandy but not enough IMHO). One could also wish for a French perspective (or is there such a movie?) and why not eventually a movie about Swedes in Normandy?

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