I couldn’t let the day go by without recognizing and honoring all the brave heroes who fought on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Before setting out on one of the largest invasions in history, General Eisenhower addresses thousands who may not come back from the effort.
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The freemen of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Five beaches- The mission was to not only take the beaches, but move inland and break through the heavily Nazi occupied areas and secure them for those forces who were farther inland.
Six Airborne divisions were to land on the first day; three U.S., two British and one Canadian, to help protect the flanks of those coming by ship, and to open up routes inland. Two more British and one U.S. division were to follow up after the assault division had cleared the way through the beach defenses. The Airborne landings were a scattered mess. Of those who jumped before they even reached their drop zones, thank God many of them survived to fight another day, but many others landed in swamps, trees, and occupied areas, or were simply shot out of the sky just as their planes were.
In the first wave of assault, in which many would follow, the 29th Infantry Division landed at H-hour, D-Day – 6:30 a.m., on June 6, 1944. The liberation of France was finally in progress.
Omaha – The objective was to take an area between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River and then advance forward to St. Lo and Caumont in order to cut German communications.
Gold – The objective of the 50th Division of the British 2nd Army was to advance inland to take the road junction at Bayeux, as well as contact U.S. forces on their right and Canadians on their left. The British invasion forces broke through fierce enemy assaults and were able to reach their objectives.
Juno – Was the landing area for 3rd Canadian Division. The Canadians haunted by Dieppe where more than 900 of their Canadian brotherss had been killed, thousands more were wounded and taken prisoner. Dieppe had been a heart breaking and hard lessons learned, so this time, in spite of heavy opposition broke through and advanced nearly to their objective and made the deepest penetration of any land forces on the 6th.
Sword- Was the objective of the British 3rd Infantry Division. They advanced inland as far as Caen, and met with British Airborne forces east of the Orne River/Caen Canal where the bridge had been seized on the night of 5th of June by a glider-borne reinforced company. Fierce opposition from the 2lst Panzer and later the 12th SS Panzer division prevented the British from reaching Caen on the 6th and Caen was not taken until later in June.
Utah- was added to the plan later, but the allies needed a major port as soon as possible, and Utah would put the US Corps within 60 kilometers of Cherbourg.
More than 5000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the Normandy invasion, in which more than 9000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded.
“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana. No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-G*damned-B*tch named Georgie Patton!” ~ General George S. Patton