Invasion of Normandy a day never to forget

The last century because of compulsory vaccination and improvements in medicine and sanitation the West could see a major population growth which had some very serious blows in two world wars. In 1927 two billion people could find themselves living on this globe, to reach three billion in 1960.

The day I was born it could perhaps have been a nice liberation for my mother, but I with the years learned also that my birthday was a day to remember those thousands who were offered as ‘canonfeed’ to bring total liberation over Europe.

Neptune Full Disk View - GPN-2000-000443

Neptune Full Disk View – GPN-2000-000443 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Roman god of the sea was having to bring lots of soldiers into the mainland of Europe. Neptune’s atmosphere may be notable for its active and visible weather patterns, but I can imagine those men thinking they would go into a big adventure going to show ‘those German “bastards”” they “going to kill them”. Perhaps those with most of the hate were eager to stand in the front of the barges or amphibious tanks. Their minds where probably full of ‘fog’.

Before they went into the waters their colleagues as ‘Allies’ had conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. When the real time had come the weather on ‘D-Day‘ was far from ideal, but postponing would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners set conditions regarding the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable.

The Desert Fox (1951)

The Desert Fox (1951) (Photo credit: twm1340)

‘Wüstenfuchs‘, the Desert Fox Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel who had distinguished himself as the commander of the 7th Panzer Division during the 1940 invasion of France making Fall Gelb (Case Yellow: the planned invasion of France and the Low Countries), to a successful operation on 6 February 1940. His 7th Panzer Division would become known as the “Gespenster-Division” (“Ghost Division”), called this because its fast paced attacks and rapid advances often placed it so far forward that their actual position was not known even not for the German High Command which at times lost track of its whereabouts. [ Setting the record for the longest thrust in one day by tanks up to that point, covering nearly 320 kilometres (200 miles)]

Rommel inspects an installation of obstruction...

Rommel inspects an installation of obstruction beams (Hemmbalken) in April 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The German headquarters were warned by the Commander-in-Chief West, Gerd von Rundstedt, who was convinced that there was no way to stop an invasion by the Allied forces near the French beaches due to the firepower possessed by the Allied navies, as had been experienced at Salerno. In this war the Germans had shown a classic use of armoured formations as seen in France 1940. These tactics were still effective on the Eastern front, where control of the air was important but did not dominate the action. But the Desert fox his own experiences at the end of the North African campaign gave him the impression that the Germans would not be allowed to preserve their armour from air attack for this type of massed assault. Rommel believed their only opportunity would be to oppose the landings directly at the beaches, and to counterattack there before the invaders could become well established.

Today when we see the footage of German documentaries from the 1940ies of the plans and the advancement of the works, you can not dismiss the courage the slave workers had to terrorise the works by all sorts of means. Many also lost their life by working against the Germans. When Rommel arrived in Northern France he had good reason to be dismayed by the lack of completed works and the slow building pace. everybody present there would get to know it was not a matter of laughing. Fast work had to be made for a good fortification along the Atlantic Wall. If given more time Rommel could have succeeded to make it impossible for anybody to enter the fortified European continent. It was something U.S. Navy Commander Edward Ellsberg did not want to see.

“Rommel had thoroughly muddled our plans. Attacking at high tide as we had intended, we’d never get enough troops in over those obstacles…”

he said. {Whitlock pp. 93–107}

Von Rundstedt expected the Allies to invade in the Pas-de-Calais being it the shortest crossing point from Britain. Its port facilities were essential to supplying a large invasion force, and the distance from Calais to Germany was relatively short.

The time frames to invade France  were very limited by the tides making the increased the length of the beach to be crossed, but uncovered and revealed the obstacles, reducing their effectiveness at low tide.

The Fuhrer Hitler was right to expect a Normandy invasion but Rommel and most Army commanders in France believed there would be two invasions, with the main invasion coming at the Pas-de-Calais. Rommel drove defensive preparations all along the coast of Northern France, particularly concentrating fortification building in the River Somme estuary. By D-Day on 6 June 1944 nearly all the German staff officers, including Hitler’s staff, believed that Pas-de-Calais was going to be the main invasion site. When the tanks landed in Normandy they still thought this was a a diversionary tactic.

When we see the inside of those fortified ‘bunkers’ we can understand why the extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault of the Allied forces could do not much. They are made so incredible strong. Though the landing of 24,000 British, US, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight was more successful.

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during ...

Landing craft and tanks at Omaha beach during the D-Day landings, many of which had departed from Penarth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1944 June the 6 th at 06:30 a.m. allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the Normandy coast of France, divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach. The American and English had been very optimistic. Their goals on the first day could not be reached and many many people fell death before they really could do anything. (Sometimes I wonder if the army commanders did not know those men just would have to be killed to have the others loosing ammunition and spirit by seeing such a mass of invaders.)

Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June. However, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 12,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. {Wikipedia}

An invading army had not crossed the unpredictable, dangerous English Channel since 1688 — and once the massive force set out, there was no turning back. The 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see, transporting over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the channel to the French beaches. Six parachute regiments — over 13,000 men — were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes. More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy immediately in advance of the invasion. {D-day feature}

By nightfall on June 6, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded, but more than 100,000 had made it ashore, securing French coastal villages. And within weeks, supplies were being unloaded at Utah and Omaha beachheads at the rate of over 20,000 tons per day. {D-day feature}

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Watch dramatic original footage of the Allied D-Day invasion of northern France that heralded the end of the Second World War in this narrated news reel from 1944.
On June 7 1944, the day after 150,000 Allied troops came ashore along the French coastline, The Daily Telegraph declared the D-Day landings to be “the greatest invasion of all time”.

According to the front page article, 4,000 ships were taken across the Channel, 10,000 tons of bombs were exploded and 10,000 men battled to sweep away mines from the surrounding waters.

After the invasion, the returning pilots declared the “beaches [were] completely in our hands”.

The Telegraph’s coverage features a report from the newspaper’s special correspondent Cornelius Ryan, who flew from a US Air Force base close by to catch a glimpse of the action.

“I was the last correspondent to fly over the Allied beachhead this evening,” he said. “We took off from this base to bomb gun emplacements on the French coast.
“Unlike the earlier missions, we had excellent visibility and could see up and down the Channel for many miles. After we had left the coast I suddenly became aware of hundreds of aircraft which thundered over us forming the area fighter cover.

“The whole sky as far as one could see in any direction was just one mass of aircraft of every type. Below us, their wings glinting in the sunlight, I could see fighters only a few feet down from the water returning to England.”
He went on: “Down below, the Channel looked cold and choppy. Away to the west I saw a sight I shall never forget. Hundreds of craft of every kind were moving towards France. From our height they were only distinguishable by the white wash which churned from their sterns.

“They looked as if they were strung together by some invisible chain.

“Away on the horizon another fleet of vessels moved forward. They were all headed the same way — towards the Allied beachhead.”

Another report tells the story of the American four-engined bombers, which were described as “the greatest air armada of the war”.

“[The American force] was crossing the East Coast for two hours. Bombers and fighters went out simultaneously in a dozen streams,” it said.

“One observer said it was ‘like all the heavy day and night attacks of the past few weeks in one.’

“Both R. A. F and American forces were showing their red, green and white navigation lights. The roar of their engines brought people from their beds.”

Finally, the ‘late news’ column on the front page informs readers that the French train service is suspended.

“Paris radio says that train service, except for suburban trains, is suspended between St. Nazaire and Mont Parnasse stations, ” it reported.

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Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Photo credit: exumo)

As the world comes together to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, The National WWII Museum, which originally opened as The National D-Day Museum in 2000, will take time to honour, educate and reflect on the sacrifices of that historic day.

Hundreds of veterans came to Normandy where also the world leaders came together for remembering that historic day, honouring  and listening to those men whose numbers are dwindling. The youngest are well into their 80s. This will be the last significant anniversary most will witness.

Their stories of heroism and sacrifice, success and disaster will soon fade from living memory. But we should keep the memory alive. The next generations may not forget what so many where forced to do to get a free Europe. It is to all those men that we do owe respect. We owe them for the peace and the freedom that we enjoy today on this continent.

Red Arrows display

Red Arrows display on the 70th birthday of D-day

Veteran Raymond W. Sylvester, 95, watches as paratroop veterans drop into Picauville

5 June 2014 While in France, veterans watched a parachute drop in Picauville to honour those who fought and died on D-day

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Please do find:

Participants describing the planning and execution of the Normandy invasion during World War II, and the battle for the French beaches: > American Experience: D-Day
+ D-day feature

Normandy 1944 – Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Normandy Invasion, by Sir John Keegan, Defence Editor, The Daily Telegraph, London

The D-Day Beachheads, by Ronald J. Drez, Editor of Voices of D-Day: The Story of the Allied Invasion Told by Those Who Were There

The National WWII Museum Commemorates D-Day 70

70 years later, D-Day vet Jim ‘Pee Wee’ Martin jumps again

D-Day 70th anniversary: Ceremonies and staged landing held

On the anniversary of the eve of the landings, the Prince of Wales laid a wreath near the Pegasus Bridge – a strategic crossing which British troops captured within minutes of landing in gliders on the French coast just after midnight during the push. The prince and the Duchess of Cornwall had lunch with veterans and watched as more than 300 troops parachuted in to Ranville, the first village to be liberated.

On the anniversary itself, the Queen will head an international service of commemoration attended by royals, presidents and prime ministers.

D Day Addendum

I have a few footnotes to hang onto the bottom lip of A. J. Liebling’s “Cross-Channel Trip,” the remarkable first-hand account of action off Normandy Beach that ran in The New Yorker on July 8, 1944, a month and a bit after D Day. The first of these might as well be an urgent memo to all the directors of all the graduate writing programs in the land commanding them to tack up this piece in their “Must Read, Then Reread” curricula for this year and every year. As an assignment they should require each student to count up the quotes and names and sights and details and passing thoughts and rushes of burning interest that stuff each paragraph to the gunwales and over.It may surprise the many Americans who have arrived in Normandy in France this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, but the largest burial place here is not, in fact, the iconic U.S. war cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer about 10 miles from here. That site’s forest of sunlit, erect white crosses in perfectly symmetrical rows marks the graves of more than 9,387 Americans, memorialized for later generations in Hollywood movies, including the closing scene of the Tom Hanks hit, Saving Private Ryan.

At D-Day Commemoration, Few Mourn The War’s Losers

Instead, among the many cemeteries for the 100,000 or so soldiers killed in the mammoth seaborne invasion on June 6, 1944 known as D-Day, and the three-month Battle for Normandy that followed, the biggest number of graves by far honor 21,222 soldiers who fought on the losing side: The Germans.
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More > D-Day History Lesson: Veterans Teach Students About World War II NBC News

D-Day veterans honoured on 70th anniversary

Royals, top brass and about 20 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, will attend the main ceremony on Friday.

But while the unity of allies and their bloody sacrifices will be the big theme of the D-Day remembrance, the government leaders will be sounding each other out in private on the worst security challenge in Europe since the Cold War: Ukraine.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and the current standoff in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro- Russian separatists have driven Russia’s relations with the United States and European Union to a post-Cold War low.

French diplomats say French President Francois Hollande hopes to get Putin to at least shake the hand of Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko on the sidelines of the ceremonies, in what could represent a first step in defusing tensions.

Putin, who has said he is open to meeting both Obama and Poroshenko while in France, has yet to recognise the legitimacy of the Ukrainian leader who is set to be sworn in on Saturday.

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  • D-Day – 70th Anniversary (propresobama.org)
    The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also decoy operations mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944.
  • One thing would have changed history (heraldsun.com.au)
    the Nazi leader could have been victorious — and the world would likely be a different, and much nastier place — if one seemingly ludicrous thing had been different.His aides were too scared to wake him up.Despite the overwhelming might of the combined forces of Russia, Britain and the United States, the outcome of World War II was a close-run thing.
  • The Great Crusade: Remembering D-Day (evergreeninstitute.wordpress.com)
    There was reason to worry: while success may seem inevitable in hindsight, poor weather had already delayed the invasion by a day, the degree of success in Allied deception operations was unknown, and the Germans in the West had had four years to prepare their defenses AND were being commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the famed “Desert Fox” who had taught the Allies such painful lessons in mobile warfare in North Africa in 1942. A thousand troops had been killed just practicing for the invasion, when the landing craft were surprised by German E-boats. The rough seas were destined to sink many of the ‘swimming’ tanks, and the minefield-clearing flail tanks developed by the British were not included in the American order of battle. It was a gigantic gamble, with the highest possible stakes. Long demanded by Stalin and obsessed over by Hitler, this invasion was considered the decisive engagement of the war by Rommel’s superior, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt. While this is debatable, its role as a decisive engagement is beyond question.
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    The D-Day invasion is often mischaracterized as “the biggest/greatest invasion of all time,” and other such hyperole. The biggest invasion of all time was Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, and the biggest coordinated military operation ever was Operation Bagration, the 1944 Soviet offensive in the East that followed closely after D-Day in the West.  OVERLORD was, however, the largest amphibious invasion ever, one of the most complex operations ever, and the apex of the amphibious invasion as military operational art, rivaled only by Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Inchon.
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    Logistics, or Winning Wars
    Eisenhower wanted to bring his armies up more or less evenly, and I’m inclined to think it was a good idea considering what happened in the Ardennes that winter. Could the shock of an American army taking a German city in November have ended the war? In my judgement, No, not as long as Hitler lived. Eisenhower was right, I think.
    +The Mighty Endeavor
    For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day“. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.
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    the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 May 1940 that comes to mind.
  • Reagan set the tone for D-Day observances (sacbee.com)
    presidents acknowledged the D-Day invasion with words or statements, but none made a pilgrimage to the site, not even Dwight Eisenhower, who had been the supreme allied commander who ordered the invasion.
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    Obama recalled that his grandfather, a 26-year-old supply sergeant stationed near the English Channel, crossed the channel six weeks after D-Day and followed allied forces across France.”At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found within themselves the ability to do something extraordinary. … That is the story of Normandy — but also the story of America; of the Minutemen who gathered on a green in Lexington; of the Union boys from Maine who repelled a charge at Gettysburg; of the men who gave their last full measure of devotion at Inchon and Khe San; of all the young men and women whose valor and goodness still carry forward this legacy of service and sacrifice.”
  • Exploding the myths of D-Day (cnn.com)
    Anniversaries are useful moments to pause and reflect. For the 70th anniversary of D-Day and subsequent campaign in northern France, it is also an opportunity to look at the past in detail and ask how much of what we think we know is true and how much is well-entrenched myth. Not only is it more interesting, it is also of greater worth as we plan for the future and pray there will never be a conflict like World War II again.
  • Incredible Facts of D-Day (goodtimestories.wordpress.com)
    World War 2 and D-Day has always been intriguing to me, so I decided to look around the web and collect some interesting and fascinating details about this historic day. In the list below, next to each fact that I posted, I listed the name of the website in which I found the specific fact.
  • We must never forget our D-Day diggers: historian (abc.net.au)
    On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, there are calls for more public recognition of the more than 1,100 Australians who died leading up to and during the Normandy campaign.Lachlan Grant from the Australian War Memorial says it is a sacrifice that is often overlooked and deserves more attention.”It has been overshadowed by of course Gallipoli, the Western Front, but also events closer to home in the Second World War,” Mr Grant said.
  • Column: So, what was D-Day (staugustine.com) +‘They were so brave’The mightiest invasion fleet the world has ever seen sat in waters in and around England as rain and wind battered the fleet during the night of June 5, 1944.Three million men waited for the word that would unleash the fury of the fleet restrained by anchor like a bulldog eager to break its chain.Amid the armada of men and ships were three First Coast residents, destined to take part in a battle on which the fate of millions of Europeans rested.
  • Putin to meet with Merkel, mark D Day anniversary with world leaders (en.itar-tass.com)
    Putin regards Russia’s participation in the jubilee a momentous event.”We will pay tribute to those who prevented Nazism from enslaving Europe, and I believe that Russia’s attendance is a momentous event. The thing is that Russia and the anti-Hitler coalition countries, including France, were allies in that struggle for freedom, and my country played a vital and maybe even the decisive role in defeating Nazism,” Putin said in an interview with French media, underscoring that ” we’ll never forget the French Resistance fighters and the French soldiers who fought side by side with us on the Soviet-German front, which is also called the Eastern front. I believe that this should not only remind us about our history, but also help to promote our relations now and in the future. “
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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
This entry was posted in B4Peace, Dagboek = Diary, History, News and Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Invasion of Normandy a day never to forget

  1. Coach Muller says:

    THIS my friend…was a GREAT post!!! I am always very intrigued by World War 2 and D-Day and this blog was fabulous!! Well done!

    Like

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