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D-Day: 68 years ago today

By Doug Powers  •  June 6, 2012 04:40 PM

**Written by Doug Powers


Sixty-eight years ago today the final push to liberate Europe and save the world from Nazi tyranny began:

On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery–for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France–D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

A big salute to all our D-Day heroes, from living veterans to those who made the ultimate sacrifice on June 6th and subsequent days.

Here are some other D-Day related items:

–Twitchy.com has a nice collection of tributes

–The National D-Day Memorial

–Ernie Pyle’s report from Normandy on D-Day plus two.

–A D-Day medic remembers “the boy on the beach.”

–Still no exact figure for D-Day dead

–National Geographic: Untold stories of D-Day

–The anniversary of D-Day should never be forgotten

–The crossword puzzle.

–A transcript of Sir Winston Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons on June 6, 1944 is here.

FDR’s radio address announcing the Normandy invasion to the American people, including the D-Day prayer:

I post the following at my own blog every Memorial Day, but since I can never get enough of it (and hopefully you can’t either), here’s Ronald Reagan’s Normandy speech 28 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day:

“You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.” – Ronald Reagan

We’ll close with how the modern era media would have covered D-Day. Michelle posted this last year but it still holds up:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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