Free Markets, Free People

D-Day plus 65 years

Yesterday evening I thought about what was occurring at the same time 65 years before in Europe. Young paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions as well as the British 6th Airborne Divison and 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion were headed in for night combat jumps with the mission of securing key bridges and road junctions and setting up blocking positions to prevent German reinforcements from reaching the beaches of Normandy. Of the 17,000 US airborne troops engaged in operation Overlord, 1,003 were KIA, 2,657 were WIA and 4,490 were declared MIA.

At the same time, off that coast, the largest amphibious assault fleet the world had ever seen, drawn from 8 allied navies (6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels), began gathering. 19 and 20 year old young men, who to that point had never seen a shot fired in anger nor fired one themselves, would get their baptism in war on Omaha, Gold, Utah,  Swordand Juno beaches. In all 160,000 allied troops would land that day.

Eisenhower meets with US Co. E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike), photo taken at Greenham Common Airfield in England about 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 1944.

Eisenhower meets with US Co. E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike), photo taken at Greenham Common Airfield in England about 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 1944.

At Pointe du Hoc, the US 2nd Ranger Battalion assaulted the massive concrete gun emplacements that commanded the beach landing sites. They had to scale 100 foot cliffs under enemy automatic gunfire to reach them. When they did, the found out the guns had been moved further inland. They pressed their assault, found them and destroyed them and then defended the location for two days until relieved. The operation cost them 60% casualties. Of the 225 rangers who began the operation, only 90 were still able to fight at its end.

On Omaha beach, the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions landed opposite the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division. They had sited their defensive positions well and built concrete emplacements which were all but immune from bombardment. The initial assault waves of tanks, infantry and engineers took heavy casualties. Of the 16 tanks that landed upon the shores of Omaha Beach only 2 survived the landing. The official record stated that “within 10 minutes of the ramps being lowered, [the leading] company had become inert, leaderless and almost incapable of action. Every officer and sergeant had been killed or wounded […] It had become a struggle for survival and rescue”. Only a few gaps were blown in the beach obstacles, resulting in problems for subsequent landings.

Leaders considered abandoning Omaha, but the troops that had landed refused to stay trapped in a killing zone. In many cases, led by members of the 5th Ranger Battalion which had been mistakenly landed there, they formed ad hoc groups and infantrymen infiltrated the beach defenses and destroyed them, eventually opening the way for all. Of the 50,000 soldiers that landed, 5,000 became casualties of bloody Omaha.

Canadian forces landed at Juno. The first wave suffered 50% casualties in the ferocious fighting. The Canadians had to fight their way over a sea wall which they successfully did. The 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) and The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada achieved their 6 June objectives, when they drove over 15 kilometres (9 mi) inland. In fact, they were the only group to reach their D-Day objectives.

By the end of D-Day, 15,000 Canadians had been successfully landed, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had penetrated further into France than any other Allied force, despite having faced strong resistance at the water’s edge and later counterattacks on the beachhead by elements of the German 21st and 12th SS Hitlerjugend Panzer divisions on June 7 and June 8.

The Brits landed at Sword and Gold beaches. At Gold the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division landed with heavy casualties, but overcame the obstacles and drove about 10 kilometers off the beach.

Led by amphibious tanks of the 13th and 18th Hussars, the landings on Sword went rather well with elements of the 8th Infantry Brigade driving 8 kilometers off the beach.

And the final beach, Utah, saw the 23,000 troops of the US 4th Infantry Division land. Through a navigation error they landed on the western most part of the beach. That happened to be the most lightly defended as well. Taking full advantage of the situation, the division fought their way off the beach and through the German defenses linking up with the 502nd and 506th Parachute Infantry Regiments of the 101st Airborne Division which had dropped in the night before and secured the inland side of the beach exits.

The liberation of Europe had begun. But it was costly. Of the total 10,000 casualties suffered that day on the beaches by the allies, the US had 6,603 of which 1,465 were killed in action. The Canadians suffered 1,074 casualties (359 KIA) and the British had 2,700.

Men who had never set foot on the continent of Europe before died trying to liberate it that day. Today most of them lie in quiet graveyards near where they fell, the only piece of land ever claimed, as Colin Powell said, was enough to lay them to rest. 65 years ago, as the guns boomed, the shells exploded and desperate and courageous men made life and death decisions on the bloody sands of Normandy beaches, the fate of the world literally hinged on their success.

I think it is important, on this day to remember that. It is also just as important to remember that had the rest of the world taken the threat posed by the evil of Nazi Germany seriously earlier than they did, the possibility exists that such a fateful landing would never have been necessary.

But it was. And to those who made it, liberated Europe and destroyed the evil that was Nazi Germany, they have my undying respect and deserve to have what they did -and why they did it – remembered by all for eternity.

~McQ

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22 Responses to D-Day plus 65 years

  • Thanks for the reminder. Time to dig out “The Longest Day”.

  • It is also just as important to remember that had the rest of the world taken the threat posed by the evil of Nazi Germany seriously earlier than they did, the possibility exists that such a fateful landing would never have been necessary.

    Unfortunately, we have plenty of pacifist cowards who cringe at the thought of war and regard as so repulsive they will never support it until things do get as bad as they did with Hitler, and maybe not even then.

    Even more unfortunately, I strongly suspect some of them are working in the White House.

    • Even worse, I think too many people regard Hitler as a unique, never to be seen again level of evil.  After all, someone is gonna conquer Europe? Someone is going to pose an existential threat to the good old U.S. of A?

      If that was the greatest generation, this is the generation that lacks perspective.

    • Most pacifists I know aren’t cowards — it takes no bravery to support a war while watching news reports on TV.  It often does take bravery to stand against public opinion in support of  ones’ principles.   Also, a lot of people try to do as Hitler did — rationalize an offensive war by exaggerating threats from the outside, or even making them up.   The US has been a very aggressive state (though it’s paying the price now by having lost its status as a dominant power).    What really gets me are the cowards who support wars from their living rooms, not realizing the massive pain they are causing, especially when 80% of the victims are innocents.  Those people are contemptible.   But we’re moving away from that mentality, thankfully.

      • Even on the anniversary of D Day it’s all about you, isn’t it Erb?

        • Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
          With his ego swollen
          Through his dreck we’re scrollin’
          Raw Erb!

          No way to understand him
          But ego boost you hand him
          Whenever you pay him any mind…

          Cut him out
          Kiss him off
          He’s a putz
          He’s a fool
          Sign him off
          Dump him now

          Raw Erb!

          Cut him out
          Kiss him off
          He’s a putz
          He’s a fool
          Sign him off
          Dump him now

          Raw Errrrrrrb!

      • As shallow as anything you’ve ever written here. 

      • Yep, those guys really get me too… almost as much as the sanctimonious blowhards who pontificate from the safety of New England classrooms without knowing the massive violence they do to fact and reason, especially when 80% of their students probably see them for the imbeciles they really are.

      • Grotesque.

        The simpleton logic being that if you support a war and the troops fighting it you are a coward, ergo, if you do everything in your power to undermine the war and the troops fighting it, inspiring the enemy to kill some more of our good men, you are courageous.

        I have told you who and what you are, Scott, down to the trivial psychological processes that operate out of and because of the characterological holes. One day it’s going to come all rushing to you at once, and you are going to want out, fast. Just call it the dark night of the narcissist’s soullessness.

      • “Most pacifists I know aren’t cowards – it takes no bravery to support a war while watching news reports on TV.”

        Actually, nearly all pacifists are cowards; that’s why they hide behind their pacifism. Only a very, very small percentage of “pacifists” – like the Quakers, for instance – are true “pacifists.” Remember that Sgt. York was a pacifist, but he fought in World War I and became a hero. So, once again, Erb, your ridiculous statement is challenged and defeated.

        “It often does take bravery to stand against public opinion in support of  ones’ principles.”

        Oh, you can have principles. You can have good principles, and you can have bad principles. Most liberals I have met and known – some of them in my own family – are complete horsesh!t artists. Their principles are about as sound as quicksand in the ocean.

        “Also, a lot of people try to do as Hitler did – rationalize an offensive war by exaggerating threats from the outside, or even making them up.”

        Who would that be, Erb? Care to make some suggestions for us?

        “The US has been a very aggressive state (though it’s paying the price now by having lost its status as a dominant power).”

        Wow…I don’t even know where to begin. First, the US fought in many wars before you were born, Erb, and you really need to study history before shooting your mouth off. Was World War I an “aggressive war”? How about World War II? Korea? Vietnam? The Persian Gulf War? Bosnia? Afghanistan? Iraq? Let us know how far out on a limb you want to go with this one. Come on, Erb – put your hand out, so I can slap it good.

        Besides – the US is STILL the dominant power in the world. When things go bad in the US, they go bad around the world. When things are good in the US< they are good around the world. And no matter what anyone thinks, the US is still the greatest military power in the world. No other country, including Russia and China, come close to us.

        “What really gets me are the cowards who support wars from their living rooms, not realizing the massive pain they are causing, especially when 80% of the victims are innocents.”

        Once again, the schlockmeister with his made-up figures tries to rationalize his twisted theories by utilizing the old Marxist baloney which has taken over his mind. 80% are innocents? Where did you get that figure, Erb? Got a link? A paper? A book? Or did something heavy fall out of your nose, hit you in the foot, and “80% innocents” sounded good to relieve the pain?

        Also, which cowards “support wars from their living rooms”? Pat Tillman, who gave up millions to play for the NFL to go fight in Afghanistan and got killed? The thousands of brave men and women who fight on the lines each day? The men and women your Dear Leader™ is sending to Afghanistan, or those he is keeping in Iraq despite promising to end that war as quick as he got into office? Which is it, Erb? Let me know – I need a good laugh.

        “Those people are contemptible. But we’re moving away from that mentality, thankfully.”

        Yeah, those people who get CIA briefings telling them that waterboarding was being used and now claim they were lied to – they are truly contemptible. Those people who told an audience, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion – before I voted against it.” Yep, they are truly contemptible.

        Or those people who ran in 2008 on “Iraq is George W. Bush’s war” despite the fact that they voted for it…one of these, crazy enough, is a Democrat I bet you support.

        Take a look at what she had to say in October 2002:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkS9y5t0tR0

        And then, in 2007:

        “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote. I have had many disputes and disagreements with the administration over how that authority has been used, but I stand by the vote to provide the authority because I think it was a necessary step in order to maximize the outcome that did occur in the Security Council with the unanimous vote to send in inspectors. And I also knew that our military forces would be successful. But what we did not appreciate fully and what the administration was unprepared for was what would happen the day after.”

        Yessiree, they are truly contemptible.

        And, best of all, a presidential candidate in April 2007 who made a promise to pull troops out as soon as he became President in January 2009:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WYTKj8pU5M

        Yep, these people are truly contemptible.

        Unfortunately, we have that contemptible mentality displayed in The Dear Leader™ in the White House, who says one thing and does another. Lies, falsehoods, and half-truths. No wonder you are one of his greatest supporters, Erb – you both use the same techniques to get your arguments out.

        Now, for God’s sake, study your history. It is so clouded by Marxist horsecrappola I wonder how you breathe without thinking.

  • I think D-Day is an example of a military over-reaction….I believe negotiations would have been more efficacious.  This was a Imperial Over-Stretch, that left only the Soviet Union laughing.  Why couldn’t we have negotiated with the more moderate Nazis.

    • Good point. I think it is a possibility that had we dealt more kindly with Hitler, and pleaded some more (and even had FDR go to Germany to make his “I am a German, too!” speech), that he would have been quite reasonable and given up Poland and his attempt to invade the Soviet Union.

      Instead, we bad Americans started a war by “causing” the Japanese to attack us because we cut off their rubber supply in the Pacific. Darn Husband Kimmel! Didn’t he know that if he had only TALKED to Yamamoto, Pearl Harbor would have never happened?

      Ah, what might have been…if only we had Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State instead of Cordell Hull, and
      The Dear Leader™ instead of FDR, we might have headed off that terrible war!

  • D-day really didn’t defeat Hitler — the Red Army had already effectively assured Hitler’s defeat.  It did make sure that the hammer and sickle stopped in the East — otherwise all of Germany, and probably France and Italy too might have been in the Soviet sphere of influence.

    • “D-day really didn’t defeat Hitler – the Red Army had already effectively assured Hitler’s defeat.”

      Yeah – that’s why Stalin demanded we open up a second front from 1942 on. And that’s why he praised the Normandy landings because now it forced Hitler to fight two enemies from both sides of Germany.

      Hey, Erb, where did you study history, anyway? From the Karl Marx School of Historical Nonsense?

  • My cousin was a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator that was shot down over Italy in April 1944. He is a hero to my entire family. He is just one of the untold men who gave their lives for this country, and never got a chance to live in the glow of freedom that their sacrifice preserved. Four years ago, I had a chance to meet Prince Charles (yes, that Prince Charles) in St. James’ Part in London, where he was holding a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. I was thrilled to meet British soldiers who fought at Normandy and in Operation Market Garden. They are true heroes, and I told them so.

    (BTW, Charles is a nice guy up close. He is not as stuffy if you forget he is Prince Charles. I was next to his mother, the Queen, a few years ago when she was at Westminster Abbey. She is really a little woman up close, and she was wearing a horrendous green outfit for Commonwealth Day.)

  • Sorry Scott, 80% of the suffering isn’t inflicted on the innocent Erb….that’s the story little “pacifist/cowards” like you tell yourselves so you can sit safely in your faculty lounges and pontificate.

  • Funny how sh**head never has anything to say about the people who support a war from the comfort of their living room and DO realize the massive pain they are causing, sometimes because they have actually seen it and lived it themselves. Prof. P*tz seems to think that the only people who recognize the pain and suffering of others are pacifists.

    F**k you, Erb.

  • After reading Erb, I’d bet the D-day survivors no longer think it was worth it…