1944 D-Day: Heroes, stories, and photos from Normandy.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: D-Day tours, WWII battlefield tours, Erwin Rommel, WWII Militaria, Collectables, American Paratroopers, U.S. Army Rangers, Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, D-Day reenactments.
RenÃ© Rossey, one of the last surviving French marine commandos who stormed ashore on Sword Beach, dies
René Rossey, who has died aged 89, was one of the last surviving French marine commandos who stormed ashore on Sword Beach, Normandy, on D-Day to initiate the liberation of their homeland. Rossey was part of the 177-man French Kieffer Commando, part of Britain`s 4 Commando and the 1st Special Service Brigade commanded by Brigadier Lord `Shimi` Lovat, who had made the political decision to let the French commandos land on the beaches ahead of the British commandos.
Classic turn-based strategy games: Conflict-Series
If you like classic turn-based PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series for Android. Some of the WWII Campaigns include Axis Balkan Campaign, D-Day 1944, Operation Barbarossa, France 1940, Kursk 1943, Market Garden, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Rommel's North African campaign, and the Battle of Bulge. In addition to WWII some other time periods include Korean War, American Civil War, First World War and American Revolutionary War. The more complex campaigns like Operation Sea Lion, Invasion of Norway, and Invasion of Japan 1945, include Naval element and handling logistics of supply flow.
(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store since 2011)
D-Day plans revealed in extraordinary dossier found in French flea market
A Top Secret `how to` guide to the Normandy invasion that was found at a French flea market has emerged for sale after 72 years. The fascinating archive of black and white reconnaissance photos and detailed intelligence documents show the extensive research that went into ensuring D-Day was a success. There are not only aerial snaps of the installations but also images taken at wave-height from the view of the invasion fleet and detailed plans of each target. For example, for a strategic German semaphore station at Cap D`Antifer on the eastern end of the invasion beaches there is an overhead photo, a side-on image and the plans for it.
The D-Day Landing Minute-by-Minute Revealed in Book
A new book tells the story of the D-Day landings in the order in which they occurred. D-Day Minute by Minute is written by British historian Jonathan Mayo and provides a complete, in detail debrief of the Allied invasion of France. It is the story of D-Day as seen through the eyes of the people who were there – from soldiers, French villagers and journalists, to schoolchildren and nurses, who found themselves placed in often extraordinary situations on that historic day in June 1944.
10 Things That Went Badly Wrong on Omaha Beach
(2) Germans were on Omaha beach in strength: The Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had built formidable defenses to protect this enclosed battlefield. The waters and beach were heavily mined, and there were 13 strongpoints called Widerstandsnester (`resistance nests`). The defending forces consisted of three battalions of the veteran 352nd Infantry Division. ---- (3) Air force bombardment failed completely. The great expectations for victory with air power, on which a big part of the success of Omaha Beach hinged, were not met at Omaha Beach. The heavy bombers flew in straight from the sea as opposed to parallel to the coast and, to avoid bombing the assault forces, delayed the release of the bombs missing Omaha beach completely. The defenses were left intact, there were no craters on the beach for cover and some of the bombs hit inland as far as 3 miles from the beach.
Here`s A Nazi Propaganda Video Saying The D-Day Invasion Failed
The success of the Allied D-Day Invasion caught the Nazis off guard and threw their war strategy to the dogs. Suddenly, Nazi Germany found itself fighting a two front war against foes that were making increasingly fast strides towards Berlin. Of course, the Nazis could not admit to as strategic defeat as what had occurred in Normandy. Within eight days of the invasion, Germany had put out Der Deutsche Wochenschau. This propaganda video highlighted the bravery and skill of the Nazi forces, as well as insisting that the Allied invasions had failed.
D-Day Infographic - Brittany Ferries` Guide to Historic Normandy
D-Day Infographic - Brittany Ferries` Guide to Historic Normandy
WWII veterans recall the terror and chaos of D-Day
Scared stiff but with nowhere to hide, Ken Scott tried to block out the sight of his comrades being gunned down as he pushed up the Normandy beach on D-Day. "Soldiers were falling all around, and they were hollering and shouting and calling for their mothers. We just had to brush it aside and just keep going, we couldn`t stop and help them. It was just impossible. We would have been dead ourselves. We had to get ashore and stop those machine guns."
Normandy 1944 - Finally a book that relies on archives instead of secondary sources
The Allied invasion of France in June 1944 ranks as one of the most important military operations of all time. Even though "Overlord" was one of the most important operations of WWII there is a serious lack of objective analysis on all the aspects of the fighting in Normandy. In practically all the history books there are serious mistakes. The main problem is that historians have relied on each other`s books instead of searching the archives. The book ‘Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness` by Niklas Zetterling fills this void by using reports from the German archives in order to answer some important questions.
Top secret orders issued to naval captains involved in the D-Day landings discovered in a chest in a loft
Top secret orders issued to naval captains involved in the D-Day landings have emerged after spending decades hidden in a chest in a loft. The inch-thick document - which should have been destroyed at the end of the Normandy invasion – gives a detailed account of the navy`s role in the landings. The orders were issued to Royal Navy officers who were involved in Operation Neptune. The copy was issued to Lieutenant Alexander North Hardy, the skipper of HMS Valena. As well as charts, it contains 50 photographs, presumably taken from a submarine lying off the coast, of the enemy shoreline onto which the invasion force was to land. The book also contains details of what the fleet should do, if German patrol boats, submarines or heavy battleships were to arrive on the scene and disrupt the landings.
Why Normandy Was Won`: Operation Bagration: The Russian Contribution to Operation Overlord
If you`re a history buff you`ll recognize Operation Bagration as the massive Soviet assault on June 22, 1944 against Germany`s Army Group Center in Byelorussia. Kenneth C. Weiler writes in "Why Normandy Was Won: Operation Bagration and the War in the East 1941-1945": "Germany lost more than 300,000 men in 22 divisions in just 5 weeks; this was a blow from which the Ostheer (the German Army in Russia) never recovered. In order to stabilize the front, the German command was forced to transfer forty-six divisions and four brigades to Byelorussia from other sectors, taking some of the pressure off the British and American troops in France."
WWII veteran Robert Darino recalls D-Day: Germans were very tricky, they had mines under mines
Robert Darino was part of the invasion of Normandy, D-Day, on June 6, 1944, where 150,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. "We prepared our vehicles for watery landings by covering all the airports with a grease and asbestos compound. The engineer line company practiced laying live explosive mines in an English farm field. The Germans were very tricky, they had mines under mines." Darino recalled having to wear two types of uniforms at the same time, olive drab and also impregnated fatigues, "in case Hitler was going to release poisonous gas attacks."
Armoured Warfare in the Battle for Normandy (Images of War) by Anthony Tucker-Jones
The chapters in "Armoured Warfare in the Battle for Normandy" explore the Normandy campaign in chronological order, starting with the organisation of Panzergruppe West and the Allies preparations and the landings in Normandy Bound while chapter 3 focuses on `Hobart`s Funnies`. Chapter 4 deals with the initial failure to take Bayeux and Caen as early as planned, while chapters 5, 6 and 7 tackle operations Epsom, Charnwood and Goodwood. That is followed by Patton`s breakout of Cobra, then the failed German counter offensive at Mortain, and the subsequent `Corridor of Death` at Falaise.
Before and after D-Day - Rare color photographs by Life
Before and after D-Day - Rare color photographs by Life
Sand samplers -- The less well-known elements of the D-Day preparations
Andrew Whitmarsh, of the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, explains that the sand collection operations were among the less well-known elements of the D-Day preparations: "The planning for D-Day was extensive and the gathering of information started years before the landings... The Allies needed to know the consistency of the beaches. It was important that they checked that the sand could take the weight of tanks and other vehicles. The troops had to get off the beaches as quickly as possible and could not become bogged down and stall the landings. They would approach the shore in small boats with silenced engines, before swimming or going in a canoe over the final distance."
WWII veteran Gene Beleele: Combat engineers landed ahead of D-Day infantry
By concentrating on the task at hand, Gene Beleele was mostly able to ignore the shells exploding, the bullets kicking up sand - even the bodies piling up around him. The mission demanded that kind of steely focus. But in helping clear Normandy`s Omaha Beach of mines for his fellow D-Day invaders, Beleele did not come away mentally unscathed. Try as he might, he never was able to recall most of the events of D-Day, which marked his first taste of combat: "And I can`t tell you what we did after that. They said we were on the beach for 5 or 6 days. For some reason I blanked everything out."
D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Greatest Military Invasion in History - Transcript from a Voice of America broadcast
n June fifth, 1944, a huge Allied force waited for the order to invade Nazi-occupied France. The invasion had been planned for the day before. But a storm forced a delay. At three-thirty in the morning, the Allied commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, was meeting with his assistants. The storm still blew outside the building. General Eisenhower and his generals were discussing whether they should attack the next day. A weatherman entered the room. He reported that the weather soon would improve. All eyes turned to Eisenhower. Finally he spoke. "OK," he said, "we will go." And so the greatest military invasion in the history of the world, D-Day, took place on June sixth, 1944.
John Stone: A mine expert who saved the D-Day by carrying out a reconnaissance mission on the Normandy beaches before the invasion
A soldier whose bravery helped change the course of WWII has passed away. John Stone was a mine expert who carried out a daring reconnaissance mission of the Normandy beaches just before the D-Day landings. He crept up the beach and got to within 40 yards of German soldiers while he examined deadly bombs. He discovered wooden poles with anti-tank mines on top positioned along the shoreline that would have been hidden at high tide and devastated landing craft. Upon his return to England he was debriefed and Winston Churchill and Dwight D Eisenhower changed the invasion from high to low tide to avoid the traps.
Photos from the Normandy beaches and the area museums
Photographs from the Normandy beaches and the area museums.
D-Day veteran Marvin Stine: I think we blew up half of England while we were there training
For Marvin Stine, a second lieutenant commanding an assault team of 35 men in the 1st Division, D-Day still is a living memory: "I think we blew up half of England while we were there training. Our goal was to get off the beachhead and set up mobile roadblocks to slow down the German reinforcements and counterattack. The channel was really rough and it was still raining. When the doors opened and I looked out, bullets were flying and there were explosions everywhere. All we had was some rocket support from ships. We were just pinned there for hours." Out of the 35 men he started with, five were killed and nine were wounded.
D-Day veterans recall storming Normandy beaches: "I am laying with six dead guys around me"
For Harold Baumgarten, a U.S. Army private from New York, the D-Day invasion started badly and quickly got worse. A German machine gunner shot down most of the men exiting his boat: Of the 30 GIs only two survived. Once on the sand, a shell exploded nearby and ripped off Baumgarten`s cheek and left a hole in the roof of his mouth. That night, as Baumgarten was advancing along a road with some other soldiers they came under fire from a German machine gunner, and he was hit in the jaw. At that point, he gave himself a shot of morphine. But even all that bad luck wasn`t enough: As he lay on a stretcher on the beach, a German sniper`s bullet hit him in the knee before he was transported back to England.
Conflicts: D-Day -- Strategy game about the Battle of Normandy (available for Android phones)
"Conflicts: D-Day" is a strategy game which takes place on the western front during World War II, mirroring the historical setup of the real 1944 Normandy landings. You are in the command of the Allied invasion force - tank, airborne, infantry and airforce units - and the object of the game is to break out from the D-Day beachheads and liberate as much of Nazi-occupied France as possible, as quickly as possible. To have a chance to seize the top spot in the Hall of Fame you need to skillfully encircle German units , while battling both the regular Wehrmacht divisions and the feared Panzer VI (Tiger I) tank units.
Jack Watson secured Pegasus Bridge on D-Day and fought Tiger tanks during the Battle of the Bulge
Among the list of those who parachuted into the dark skies over Normandy on D-Day, the name of Major Jack Watson always stood out. The decorated officer had a key role in the first few hours of the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944. After Pegasus Bridge was seized he helped liberate Ranville, and then returned to defend Pegasus Bridge.
He earned the Military Cross in 1945 when, during the Battle of the Bulge, his Company came under attack by German Tiger tanks and infantry. At one time, in order to make a Tiger tank move its position and give a better shot, he deliberately drew attention to himself, though only 50 yards from the tank.
Legendary U.S. Army Ranger Leonard Lomell, who saved the Allied D-Day invasion with his feats at Pointe du Hoc, dies
The word `legendary` may be overused, but in this case it truly is the proper word to use.
Leonard G. "Bud" Lomell, a legendary United States Army Ranger, has passed away at the age of 91. On June 6, 1944, 2nd Ranger Battalion landed on the beaches of Normandy below Pointe du Hoc, from which German artillery could dominate American landing beaches. The Rangers climbed the 100-foot cliff as German troops fired down on them. First Sergeant Lomell and Staff Sergeant Jack Kuhn formed a partol which located the German`s artillery and destroyed the guns - just minutes before the Allied landings were set to begin. For this feat he earned a Distinguished Service Cross.
And if that wasn`t enough, just 6 months later - during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought - he was granted a Silver Star for his valor as the 2nd Ranger Battalion seized and held Hill 400.
D-Day veterans not happy over French plans to build a windfarm near Juno Beach
It`s another case of progress vs sacred battlefields: A huge offshore windfarm (filled with 525ft high windmills) is being planned by the French government within sight of the beaches where 2,500 allied soldiers perished fighting the Nazis. Major-General Tony Richardson, of the Normandy Veterans` Association, called the French plans "horrible," adding that the D-Day beaches are a historical place and should remain unspoilt.
Recently, there have been several similar face-offs, mostly in the United States (A casino near the Gettysburg battlefield, a Walmart near the Wilderness battlefield). While all the veterans of the American Civil War have long passed, the WWII veterans are still around, and fairly well organized to fight these plans. Hopefully they can force the authorities to relocate the windfarm - because the thought of seeing windmills while touring the solemn D-Day beaches just doesn`t feel right.
Minesweeper Yarmouth Navigator, one of the 7 surviving vessels from the Normandy landings, sinks
One of only seven surviving vessels which took part in the D-Day landings have sunk during its relocation to a new mooring in Noss marina, Plymouth. The Yarmouth Navigator, a former Navy minesweeper and patrol boat, was one of around 5,000 ships that participated in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and it is listed by the National Historic Ships Committee on its register of vital ships.
Major search and rescue operation was launched, but one person is still missing.
What makes the loss of this historic ship even more tragic, is the fact that after decades of neglect, a new owner was in the process of turning things around for the Yarmouth Navigator.
Document reveals that the Allies fooled the Nazis into thinking that the main strike would hit Pas de Calais
A complicated British wartime plot convinced Hitler that the Allies were about to aim the bulk of the D-Day landings in Pas de Calais rather than on the Normandy coast - guaranteeing the invasion`s success. An intercepted memo, published for the first time, proves that German intelligence had fallen for the British scheme.
During the Second World War, the Allies were both skillful and lucky in their disinformation campaigns, which took place before any major invasion in Europe. Just a year before the D-Day, in 1943, the Allies had used another plot, called Operation Mincemeat, to make sure that the invasion of Sicily met minimum opposition.
Sgt Joe Hawort`s secret diaries -- detailing D-Day landings -- found in attic
Sgt Joe Haworth, who served with the Royal Engineers from 1939-1946, kept 3 pocket-size diaries from 1943 to 1945. His notes cover the D-Day, the death of some of his comrades, the birth of his son while he was abroad and the surrender of Nazi forces. An entry from June 6 1944, as he was on board an army vessel crossing the Channel to Normandy, reads: "D-Day, it being 07.25 hours this morning. Feeling pretty rough. Ship rolling pretty bad. Arrived at our location `somewhere in France` 13.30hours. Began to load on to Rhinos. Assault troops broke through beach head and advancing rapidly. No Sleep."
Technology advances teaching of D-day history: footage, battle plans, speeches
20 years ago students learned about D-Day from history textbooks, photographs and 16mm films, explained Steve Bullick. Today, teachers engage students with videos of archival battle footage, talks by WWII veterans and Google Earth images with battle details. Other teaching tools include GigaPan, online interactive textbooks and Internet access to primary sources such as battle plans, speeches and historical documents. Brittany Taylor shows scenes from WW2 film "Saving Private Ryan" and her students analyze the D-Day plan and examine what happened to see whether it was executed as planned.
Photographs of Manuel Bromberg - Images taken on the beaches of Normandy
The images which have defined the visual memory of the D-Day invasion are the 11 surviving negatives taken by Robert Capa on June 6, 1944. But there are other photographs taken on the beaches of Normandy that are almost completely unknown. Manuel Bromberg waded ashore and onto Omaha beach in June, 1944. Like the other soldiers he had an M-1 carbine. But unlike the other GIs he carried a Leica camera. Bromberg was one of a select few, a member of the almost forgotten US War Artist`s Unit. His task was, in part, to cover the D-Day invasion. His use of the camera is different from Capa`s adrenaline stoked photos.
Nice D-Day infographic.
WW2 vet who played bagpipes during D-Day landings to be immortalised in a life-sized statue
D-Day piper Bill Millin raised the morale of incoming troops with his tunes, as shells exploded above and machinegun fire swept across Sword Beach. The picture of the 21-year-old commando became one of the enduring images of the D-Day landings. Now he is to be immortalised in a life-sized statue by the people of Colleville Montgomery, which he helped to liberate in 1944. Recently a group of French officials travelled to UK to show him a model of the statue. The military high command had ordered pipers not to play, but that decision was ignored by Lord Lovat, commander of he 1st Commando Brigade, who ordered Millin to lead his troops ashore to the sound of the pipes.
A dummy parachutist dropped over Normandy before D-Day to confuse the enemy for sale
A dummy parachutist - one of 500 dropped over Normandy before D-Day to confuse the enemy - will be auctioned off by German auction house Hermann Historica. The "paradummies" (nicknamed Ruperts, 1/3 scale model of human) exploded and burst into flames when they hit the ground to hide their purpose. They were dropped in 4 locations over Normandy at the same time thousands of Allied airmen landed on the night of June 5, 1944. 6 SAS soldiers were dropped with the puppets to play recordings of loud battle noises to divert the Nazi troops from the real invasion. The deception - "Operation Titanic" - was a success, in spite of the fact that 4 SAS men were captured.
The battle of St. Lo - 134th Infantry Regiment fought through dense hedgerows
The town of St. Lo in Normandy had importance because all local highways met there. Wehrmacht realized this, and it had repelled 3 Allied attempts to seize St. Lo. Then 134th Infantry Regiment began a offensive, gaining more ground in hours than previous divisions had in weeks. But the cost shocked the Regiment`s commander, Colonel Butler Miltonberger. The Germans hid behind the French hedgerows. The Nebraskans, who had never seen combat before had to learn hedgerow warfare as they went. "You would take 2 hedgerows and lose 100 guys. The reward for that is you went and took another hedgerow," said Dick O`Brien.
D-Day soldier searches for records of secret airfield he helped build near Caen
A soldier who helped build an airfield during the D-Day landings said his regiment`s part of the historic moment has been forgotten. Lindsey Jones, of the Royal Engineers, helped build an airfield near Caen which was vital to landing tanks, but he has not been able to find any record of this. Before his regiment set sail from England, it had to travel to Guildford to fetch modified trucks to carry all the gear they needed. "The commandos were sent out before us and drawn most of the fire. Working through the night was hard, we needed light to see by but whenever we turned one on we got fired at by the Germans."
5 WW2 veterans return to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day
65 years after they went through a blizzard of gunfire, these 5 veterans - who each landed on one of the 5 D-Day beaches - met to remember the fallen. The barbed wire, machine-gun nests, and blood-soaked sand have long gone but the memories remain vivid. The first to set foot on Nazi territory was American Arden Earll on Omaha beach. "At about 6.30am I saw the beach... Half an hour later, bullets were passing through the thin wooden sides of vessels... One shell even exploded in the sea next to me. If it had hit I probably wouldn`t be here today. We had 19 tanks scheduled to give us back-up on the beach but only 1 made it as the rest sank."
Double agent blocked 2 German tank divisions and 19 infantry divisions from D-Day battles
As WWII loomed, Juan Pujol Garcia contacted the British authorities offering to spy for UK. Turned down, he offered himself to the Nazis in the hope he could betray them. From Lisbon he sent made-up reports and the Germans were convinced - so were the Brits who enlisted him as a double agent with the codename Garbo. Garcia warned the Nazis that the Normandy attack was a fake and as a result the Germans kept 2 armoured divisions and 19 infantry divisions on the Calais coast, waiting for the "real" invasion. 6 weeks after D-Day the Spaniard was granted the Iron Cross by a grateful Third Reich - and the MBE by a grateful Britain.
D-Day veteran tells of hell on the Normandy beaches in 1944
Before June 1944, Michael Brennan had been through several mock landings while training in Scotland and the Isle of Wight. But nothing could have prepared him for the feeling his belly during the two hours in the landing craft as dawn broke on Gold beach on June 6, 1944. "We were about to be decimated, but thankfully we didn`t realise it... we only managed to overpower the Germans through sheer weight of numbers. As an 18yo, you don`t have a real sense of your own mortality. People tend not to realise how far out the landing craft stopped... I found myself chin-high in sea, and some of the shorter men drowned there and then."
World War II veteran travels back to Normandy for the D-Day anniversary
William Tritt still recalls the day he parachuted into Normandy, jumping out C-41 plane only 800 feet above Utah Beach. And he recalls carrying 40 pounds of gear and not showering or changing his uniform for 30 days - and seeing many of his comrades from the 82nd Airborne got shot. "We knew we were in for the duration. The only way you were getting home was in a box or with missing limbs." Tritt made 11 jumps, seeing Rome, Paris, the Rivera and many beaches in Normandy. Soon he will travel back those same places - now historical attractions - with a lot less pressure: "It will be nice to see the towns and some of the guys. You never know... who you might run into."
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor [book review]
Great WW2 books have been written about Overlord by Max Hastings, John Keegan and Carlo D`Este, and "D-Day" by Antony Beevor (author of The Fall of Berlin 1945 and Stalingrad) deserves its place beside those. The chapter on the Omaha Beach is the literary version of the opening scene of the film Saving Private Ryan, with the same horror and pace. The German high command is well covered, especially for the absurd system whereby there was no central command in France, with tasks being shared between Rundstedt and Rommel, who disagreed about how to handle the invasion. The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine commands were separate from the Wehrmacht.
D-Day: Battle in Port-en-Bessin and the men of 47 RM Commando
There were just 420 green berets of 47 Royal Marine Commando in all, and they had been given the near-impossible task of seizing Port-en-Bessin : heavily-fortified key port from the same crack German unit – 352 Infantry Division – that would wreak such mayhem with the American landings on Omaha Beach. Stand on the harbour wall, with your back to the sea, and you`ll understand what a challenge these soldiers faced. Rising up either side of you are two mighty cliffs which, under Erwin Rommel`s Atlantic Wall defence plan, had been filled with a network of trenches, mortar pits, dugouts and bunkers, guarded by minefields, barbed wire and flame-throwers.
D-Day: Ten soldiers lay wounded on the beach. One of our tanks rolled straight over
In the extract from a book (Never Surrender: Lost Voices Of A Generation At War 1939-1945), marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2, the 1944 D-Day is remembered. --- Bill Millin, with 45 Commando, saw 10-12 injured British soldiers lay across a road leading from the beach. Then a flail tank come to detonate the mines. "The commander couldn`t see them and his tank came straight on and crushed its way up ... over the top of the soldiers." One grim sight was seeing a flame thrower burn out the Germans in pill-boxes. Harry Reid never understood why there were so many wireless operators, until he learned that "they expected 50% casualties on the landing."
Secret footage shows American troops practising D-Day invasion [video clip, still pics]
A Sherman tank rolls ashore while behind it soldiers step through the waves holding their rifles. But for the seaside guesthouses in the distance it could be a view from the D-Day landings. In fact, the pictures show American troops practicing for the amphibious invasion of Normandy on beaches in North Devon. They are stills from footage (shot October 1943 - June 1944) that has not been seen since WW2. The film also shows Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower visiting the troops in 1944, a few weeks before the D-Day. The collection of 10-minute reels have collected dust in a National Archive in Baltimore since the end of the world war 2.
D-Day tour on the beaches of Normandy
For those with a passion for military history, not to mention war stories, a tour of Normandy`s D-Day landing beaches offers a seaside break with a difference. Whether you`re looking for a boys` own holiday adventure or would like to retrace the footsteps of your ancestors who fought in world war 2, a tour of the museums, memorials and military cemeteries along the northern French coast makes for a memorable experience. For an independent tour, hire a car and follow the coast road to Sword, Juno, Gold and Omaha beaches, Utah beach is just a little further afield. Off Gold beach you can see the remains of the floating Mulberry Harbour.
Photos of the D-Day (British Centaur CS IV) tanks at the bottom of the English Channel
Scuba divers searching for hidden treasures were dumbfounded after they stumbled across two Second World War tanks at the bottom of the English Channel. But the mystery was figured out after a probe involving over 80 dives and checking details on the sunken vehicles against historical records. They were rare British Centaur CS IV tanks, heading for the D-Day landings. The battle tanks fell overboard when a landing craft overturned on its way to the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944. The vehicles were relatively well preserved with guns still intact.
World War II veteran Eugene Lyons fought on D-Day 1944
Eugene Lyons` first day in Normandy was nearly his last, twice. The ship that carried him hit a mine and sank. Ashore he saw the dead American paratroopers hanging in trees. Digging a trench with helmet, Lyons saw a German plane coming: He dived for cover, while bullets stitched the sand. Tensions between white and black GIs flared in the US Army: Once a brawl between his unit and airborne troops had to be broken up by British forces. Another time "two fellows were... eating lunch, and one guy looked away, and when he looked back his buddy`s brains were lying in his mess kit. He just went completely out of it. They had to chase him 3-4 miles."
The other D-Day: Errors and mistakes
Much has been written about the bravery of the victorious Allied forces. All true, but it wasn`t flawless... They attacked nonexistent artillery emplacements. Planes dropped paratroopers far from targets. D-Day was soon forgotten in the nightmare of GIs being blown apart in the Normandy hedgerows by entrenched German panzers. No American planners had anticipated the deadliness of new German battle tanks and anti-tank weapons. We landed with the weaponry vastly inferior to that of the Wehrmacht. On two occasions we bombed our own troops, killing or wounding over 1,000 Americans, including the highest-ranking officer to die in Europe, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair.
The world changed June 6, 1944 - the good guys took charge again
Here is an address by Walter D. Ehlers, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, at the 50th D-Day anniversary. -- "What was it like on D-Day?" That`s the most-asked question. We will surely all agree that it was the longest day of our lives. I remember my amazement when we came into the Southampton area. Rows and rows of battle tanks, artillery guns, trucks, jeeps and armored personal carriers lined England`s lush fields. I suddenly appreciated the US` support of the war effort. There was such firepower that we didn`t expect much resistance on the beach. The dead and wounded soldiers, the wreckage, made us realize that this war was far from over.
D-Day invasion of Europe - The most decisive battle in history
The D-Day operation in 1944 liberated France, hastened the defeat of Third Reich and opened up the second front against Hitler. It was the most complex military operation ever mounted, landing 150,000 troops by midnight. On that cold dawn troops landed at 5 beachheads: Sword and Gold (British troops); Juno (Canadian); Omaha and Utah (American). The British and Canadians landed, smoothly, at 7.30am so that the rising tide could carry them over the reefs and quicksand. An hour earlier at Utah, the American troops landed 2km from where they were supposed to, and met light resistance. The men on Omaha weren`t so lucky: Heavy machinegun emplacements slaughtered thousands.
15 things you don`t know about D-Day - The invasion of Normandy (Article no longer available from the original source)
Early June 1944 most of the European continent is held in the grip of Adolf Hitler`s forces. German garrisons dot the French coast. In southern England waits a massive Allied buildup of men and machines. As a break in bad weather is forecast, the order is given to go on June 6. (1) The "D" in D-Day doesn`t stand for anything. It`s just a designation for whichever day a military operation begins. (6) A dog used to listen for enemy movements required rescue when its parachute snagged on a tree. (11) A Bible in pocket saved the life of Staff Sgt. Lou Havard when it stopped a bullet. (12) All but 2 of the 29 amphibious tanks deployed by U.S. forces sank.
Eroding Pointe du Hoc cliff - Allied D-Day Normandy invasion (Article no longer available from the original source)
The waves are making a slow but devastating assault on Pointe du Hoc, one of the most key sites of the Allied D-Day invasion of World War II, and engineers have decided it will take a load of concrete to slow the destruction. It is on French soil, but technically it is U.S. property, deeded to the U.S. through the American Battle Monuments Commission. It was on the tiny beach below the towering, 100-meter cliffs that Army Rangers began their assault early on June 6, 1944. The rangers were there to destroy German guns that protected the Normandy: nearby Omaha and Utah beaches.
2nd Ranger Battalion - Cliffs west of Omaha Beach on D-Day (Article no longer available from the original source)
O`Keefe was with the Army`s 2nd Ranger Battalion. He and 225 Rangers used grappling hooks to scale 100-foot cliffs west of Omaha Beach on 1944 D-Day. They climbed with strength through a storm of grenades and withering enemy fire to take the high ground at Pointe du Hoc and eliminate German artillery batteries. Only 90 of the Rangers survived the assault. He travelled back to Normandy 3 times and met with presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton during the 40th, 50th and 60th D-Day anniversary ceremonies. He never made a fuss about his military service, other than attending reunions and funerals of fellow Rangers.
"Youngest vet" of D-Day landing in Normandy (Article no longer available from the original source)
14-year-old Jack Hoffler lied his way into the US Navy - and helped ferry troops in the face of heavy fire onto the beaches of Normandy during the Allied invasion. On D-Day, Hoffler was a member of a troop-landing craft, completing 14 trips to Omaha Beach – the deadliest of the landings – before it was blown up by an underwater mine. Wehrmacht troops who held the higher ground over the assault forces, knew exactly when to fire their machine guns as the Allied troops exited the landing boats. Trying to make it off the boat was often a deadly task for the soldiers: "If about half of them got off the boat ramp alive it was unusual."
D-Day + 62 Years documentary - Return to Normandy
Five old men are walking through a field of white crosses at the American cemetery in Normandy. The men are D-Day veterans and the image of them is a emotional moment from D-Day + 62 Years: Rhode Island Veterans Return to Normandy. Documentary moves back and forth from past to present, from archival footage of the D-Day invasion to shots of the peaceful Normandy beaches today, with rusted barbed wire and abandoned German gun emplacements as reminders of what happened there. Richard Fazzio, who drove a Higgins boat loaded with troops, wept as he told of soldiers being cut down by German fire as they tried to get off his boat.
Rommel`s defeat - His son Manfred Rommel recounts D-Day
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was Hitler`s man in charge of repelling the Allied invasion on D-Day. Here his son Manfred Rommel recounts how the landings caused divisions in the German command, and led to the downfall of both the German forces and his father. On 6 June I was at our home, because my father was coming to spend the night on his way to visit Hitler at Berchtesgaden, and it was my mother`s 50th birthday. But at 0800 he received a call from his chief of staff announcing that the landing had begun. He took his car and traveled back to his headquarters in France - it was too dangerous for him to fly as the Allies had huge air superiority.
The Longest Day was the first of a war that lasted for 45 years
The architect of the D-Day landings was General Bernard Law Montgomery, a master of detail, and a man who engaged affection and fury in equal measure. Socially he was inept, almost autistic. For he was the true exponent of the set-piece battle, and D-Day was to be his finest triumph. It was to be an encounter with his oldest adversary, Erwin Rommel. -- Men of Kurt Meyer`s 12th Hitlerjugend SS Division would routinely tie Canadian and British prisoners of war to trees and cut their throats. And as the battle progressed, Meyer`s SS men used to strap parcels of explosives to themselves and blow themselves up beside British tanks.
D-Day Was a Short Day for Some
It is generally believed that D-Day was welcomed by the French population. In fact, many, perhaps most, French civilians were less than enthusiastic. They feared that the invasion might fail and that the Germans would take revenge. Max Hastings points out that Norman civilians had had to live with the consequences of the Canadian failure at Dieppe. On 5-6 June the bombardments of Caen and the intense anti-aircraft fire, allowed nobody to sleep. The Caen Maison d` Arrêt was full of prisoners hoping for a hit on the prison to give them some slight chance of escape. At St-Lô, the prison was hit. 42 résistant prisoners were buried under the ruins.
Franz Gockel: As a Wehrmacht gunner on Omaha beach
A teenage soldier in the Wehrmacht, Franz Gockel had his 18th birthday while serving as a gunner in a `resistance nest` on Omaha beach. He was shot in the hand and evacuated to Paris before serving again and being seized by the Americans. "We had been kept busy digging the trenches and keeping the guns in order. But at 1am we got the alarm call. We had had many of these before and we threw out the guy who had brought it to us, but he came back and said this time it was for real: the Americans had been landing by parachute about 30km from us." At 8am my machine gun failed and I had to use my pistol to protect myself, it just fired single shots.