|Author, James Holland, found at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10855305/James-Holland-British-troops-not-given-enough-credit-for-role-in-D-Day-landings.html|
British troops have not been given enough credit for their role in the D-Day landings, the historian James Holland has argued, as he claims American films portray them as "mincing around with bad teeth, stopping for tea".
Holland, the television historian, said the world has been doing a "massive disservice" to British veterans, who were overshadowed by the more glamorous US troops.
Saying myths about the Second World War had become "very, very entrenched", he added home-grown soldiers were often seen as "mincing around and constantly stopping for cups of tea".
In reality, he said, British forces were far more technologically advanced than usually imagined, providing the manpower and innovation to win the war.
Speaking at Hay Festival, Holland argued it was time to rehabilitate the role of the British in the world narrative of D-Day.
"I feel particularly strongly about Normandy and the D-Day campaign because there are a lot of myths that are very, very entrenched," he told an audience.
"It's a largely American show still, and Omaha still defines it.
"There is this impression I think – because of Band of Brothers, because of Saving Private Ryan and so on, because Americans had considerably more cameramen and photographers on D-Day – that we still believe that D-Day is a predominantly an American show.
"Yes, the British had a part but somehow they had a junior part of the United States at that time."
"The Americans were tall, six foot two, with amazing teeth. There was a sort of shabbiness about them that's still quite cool; they looked good.
"Americans always, always show this in conjunction with their tall, square-jawed, good-teeth people: Brits mincing through the water like a Carry On film.
"This annoys me."
Holland, who has written books and presented a recent BBC documentary about the Second World War, added it was time for the role of the British to be redefined.
Not only were the bulk of the invasion force, they suffered heavier casualties, embraced new technology quicker and developed critical inventions including the Mulberry harbour, he said.
"There is still this incredible impression, 70 years on, that somehow the only reason the Germans lost was because they took on the scale of the United States," he said. "That they simply couldn't keep up with the economic might of the Americans.
"That it wasn't anything to do with the British necessarily, and actually tactically there was no one to touch them.
"What I realised is that we've been doing this massive disservice to our boys and to Britain; our effort was way more impressive than we think of it today.
"What's impressive is having the nerve to do think 'I could do that'.
"The idea we stood around in the mud singing God Save the King is just not right, it's a myth and we need to move away from it."
"They were not rubbish, mincing around and constantly stopping for cups of tea. They should have huge respect."