Today is the day. Today is the Day of Days. Today is the anniversary of Operation Overlord. Otherwise known as D-Day. On this day in 1944, American, British and Canadian divisions stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. Breaching Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans. However recent painstaking research by the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation has achieved a more accurate – and much higher – figure for the Allied personnel who were killed on D-Day.
2500 dead. In one day. This was the cost of victory. So pause and give thanks to those kids (average age was 19) who sucked it up and charged into the deadliest real estate German General Erwin Rommel could think up.
In typical American fashion, fire up the Netflix and watch “The Longest Day”. If you can stand the first six minutes or so, rent and watch “Saving Private Ryan”. A movie that depicts the landings in such graphic details it had many survivors crying at the premiere. Want a closer look? Watch the HBO series “Band of Brothers”. The story of how E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division jumped into history on the Day of Days.
Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians then forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans then forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army. One of them was Yang Kyoungjong, pictured on the left.
The order to invade weighed heavily on Eisenhower. It was far from a sure bet that the Allies would not be thrown into the sea. A meticulous planner, Eisenhower wrote two announcements for the invasion.
This what he wrote in case of failure:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
He accidentally dated the letter July 5. It should have been June 5. I’m sure he had a lot on his mind.
When the US Army landed in Normandy, among the equipment brought ashore was 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.
Coca-Cola CEO Robert Woodruff made a point of supporting US troops so metal cans were introduced to meet their needs. In 1941, when the United States entered the war, Woodruff decided that Coca Cola’s place was near the front line.
Later waves of infantry attacked the beaches of Normandy equipped with TOY WOODEN RIFLES. The Army had run out of real weapons and the soldiers were instructed to “find” weapons that were expected to be “Lying unused on the beach”.