In the very small hours of June 6, 1944, my husband’s uncle parachuted into Normandy, France, on a mission to disable the guns at the Merville Battery overlooking Sword Beach. More than 600 men of the 9th Parachute Battalion of the 6th Airborne Division left British shores on this one secret mission, of which 150 made it to the battery, and only 75 survived the ensuing battle. The mission to disable the Merville Battery was a success, and those guns were no longer a threat to the imminent D-Day invasion. Twenty-year-old Uncle Josue was one of those survivors, and he continued to fight the German army well into late July before he was killed by a sniper.

I have been researching and writing about this story since my first visit to Normandy in 2016, and I believe this is where my interest in the subject of resilience stems from. I have read Uncle Josue’s diary and all the letters he wrote home throughout his training and his time in France, before and after the battle for the Merville Battery. I find it fascinating that someone so young can exhibit such strength in the face of adversity. The character that speaks through his diary and letters is full of confidence and surety, even when telling of that horrific night. I often wonder what he would have done with his life if he had survived the war. His family talk only of his strength of character and sound mind, so I imagine he is one of the lucky few who are born resilient rather than having to learn how to become resilient.


Read the full article on our digital issue, page 67-70.

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