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Thread: Today, the beginning of the end

  1. #1

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    Today, the beginning of the end

    Today is the anniversary of D Day, the invasion of Europe at Normandy beaches. There was still a lot of fighting left, but it was the start of the road to finishing the war with Germany. Losses were less than expected, 9800, with a total of 37,000 for the remainder of the war.
    Several of the beaches were landed on with light opposition, the were ok at Gold, , and Sword but the U S lost heavily at Omaha and to some extent Utah.
    I recall the photo of Gen Eisenhower wishing well to paratroopers who were boarding a C-47 about midnight. He was afraid he might be sending so many men to their deaths and that the invasion could well fail., especially as weather was bad, but hoped to clear with no guarantee.
    The Germans knew an invasion was coming, but not the date and were fooled as to the location, thinking the shorter straighter route near Calais was it. I think Rommel suspected Normandy , but was ill and recovering from wounds when his staff car had been strafed by a Spitfire doing recon. I am surprised that German intel was not better, and could detect such a large fleet moving, perhaps by submarine. Maybe British destroyers made it too dangerous for subs in the channel.
    Sometimes the French, especially in Paris, have a reputation as not being friendly to outsiders or visitors. But there are still older French who remember and who put flowers at the Allied cemeteries.
    I don't think anyone wants to lose their life in a war, I know I sure was not anxious to go to combat when I was in the Air Force. But there are some times and some wars, that may be worth putting your life at risk. I hope Id be willing to get out of one of those landing craft that morning. They were so young.
    Your survival chances were so dependent on which beach you were assigned to. We has such complete air superiority over Normandy that morning that it helped, much better than Dunkirk. If you were on the worst beach it was like being a B-17 crew early in the war before full fighter escort.
    There is a book that refers to this as The Last Good War, and there is a lot of truth to that. Wars since are often not for the best reasons and aren't won and may also have large losses. WWII had huge losses, 50 million people worldwide, many of them civilians, but there was a side of evil and a side that tried to resist that. I dont know if any diplomacy or economic concessions or agreements could have prevented the war. The British tried to negotiate with Hitler, but couldn't secure a lasting peace with him.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 06-06-2018 at 04:17 PM.

  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Normandy is a great place to visit... I went for a one week tour hosted by the 29th Infantry Division museum. Its incredible how much was preserved. We stayed in a hotel right on Omaha (where the 29th landed).

    St. Mere Eglise has a fantastic museum celebrating the airborne assault...C-47 and a Waco on display. They have an incredible immersive experience. You enter by walking down a darkened center aisle of a C-47 (complete with engine sounds) and step out the jump door onto a plexiglass walkway with a diorama of Normandy below.

    Slight correction: Rommel was uninjured and home on leave on June 6th. He thought the weather had been too bad to invade. He was wounded a couple of weeks later

    Ron "Twenty Nine let's go!" Wanttaja

  3. #3

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    I have/had two friends who were there, both involved in the airborne assault into Ste Mere Eglise. Carl was a 17 year old 82nd Airborne troop. Most of those kids lied to the recruiter to get in. Ben was a transport squadron commander and flew the C-47 that dropped "Jumping Jim" Gavin and his staff. I believe that Gavin was the youngest general officer ever in the Army at something like age 21. Because he jumped. And I think that he started the tradition that every airborne infantryman jumps, from the lowliest private to the commanding general.

    Ste Mere Eglise is one place in France where they still love Americans. And if you were there that night you have the keys to the city. Carl parachuted back in for the 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversaries I think. Aircraft and gear courtesy of the French.

    Definitely the Greatest Generation.

    Wes
    Last edited by WLIU; 06-06-2018 at 06:11 PM.

  4. #4

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    You are right about Rommel, I looked it up and it was July 17m 44 and thought to be 2 Canadian Spitfires, looks like MK IX s in the shot. The wingman may have been American. They certainly like Spitfires in Canada.

  5. #5

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    D-Day was much on my mind yesterday. My grandfather - Mom's father - was there. He was an engineer in charge of part of the "Mulberry" wharf system at Omaha Beach (according to the history taught to me by my mother). He's been gone many years, but his legacy lives on.

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