‘This is the tale of two soldiers who have never met and who were supposed to kill each other 75 years ago on this beach – one fighting for Fuhrer and Fatherland – Paul Galt aged 18 on D-day; the other fighting for king and country – Harry Reid barely a year older…’
So started the Channel 4 film bringing together two men in their 90’s, one German, one British.
The British soldier joined the Salvation Army after the Second World War. But despite being committed to forgiveness he was not sure what he’d say to the man who had been on the Normandy beach trying to kill him.
Paul Galt, the young German soldier who surrendered to an American tank crew, spent D-Day 2019 at the German War Cemetery in Normandy where the black stone crosses marked the final resting places of those vanquished. Paul’s post war life was not easy – their German village assimilated into Poland where his farming father was killed by Russian soldiers and his sister raped. Paul himself was a prison of war in Scotland where he learnt English.
We are partners together in the rebuilding of the world…
When they did meet it was Harry who greeted Paul with these words: ‘I’m so glad to see you and to hold your hand and say bless you… once we were on a different sides but we are partners together in the rebuilding of the world.’
75 years ago did Harry expect to ever meet his enemy? ‘My common sense told me that there were people very peacefully minded and their voices are so often silenced.’
Channel 4 then went on to interview two more soldiers, this time both British and asked them what young people especially should take away from this occasion. Without hesitation Dickie Forrester responded, ‘Don’t go to war ‘coz it doesn’t get you anywhere… absolute waste of time.’
Bill Gladden responded, ‘There are lots of youngsters laying out there in the cemetery… in their nineteens and twenties killed or maimed… we don’t want that happen again.’
‘Now we are friends…’
‘We are more than that, we are brothers’