Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Day + 18 hours at Normandy in 1944


Well, about 18 hours ago (0600Z) in 1944, the worlds greatest armada arrived at Normandy.  My Uncle Bill (Sgt. William L. Leach) had already arrived with the 82nd Airborne (The Famous AA patch, along with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne from the "Band of Brothers" HBO movie, as well as the British Airborne) who landed behind the German lines about 0200Z or so.  The Americans paid dearly at Omaha and Utah beaches that were heavily armed.  General Erwin "The Desert Fox" Rommel had done a great job there.  And even though Gen. George S. Patton didn't get in on the action, he was used as a decoy to hold the 2nd Panzer and 116th Panzer tanks up north who were expecting the real invasion to come in at Pas de Calais.  As a matter of fact, the 2nd Panzer and 116th Panzer didn't move until the 14th day of the invasion.  To quote the 82nd Airborne report "By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing. Ridgway's post-battle report stated in part, "...33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."  What a report for such a small brigade.  They went on to fight in Operation Market Garden (what a fiasco) and Bastogne with the 101st Airborne and the British Airborne both times.

Anyway, sorry this reminder is so late.  All in all, England, USA, Poland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, The Netherlands, Norway, and other nations - all chipped in what men they could afford (but mostly England and USA as well as Australia, Canada, France and NZ).  Of the 1,300,000+ men who invaded Normandy, over 120,000 men lost were KIA, MIA or wounded on the first day.  Of the 380,000+ Germans more than 113,000 were reported KIA, MIA or wounded on the first day.  It usually takes a ratio of 10:1 to storm a fortress successfully so losses of 1:1 were somewhat commendable - but sad nevertheless.  Unfortunately, it had to be done.  The USA was late getting there since the war for the rest of the world started in 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany and the subsequent declaration of war by England, France and most of Europe.  Only England was standing a year later while the USA congress argued and drug their feet in an isolationist mode.  Today, they are accused of being overly aggressive.  You just can't win.

So, lift a glass of cheer to the American, English, Aussies, New Zealanders and all the rest who stormed the beaches long, long ago.  If not for them, we'd be all be speaking German.  Not that Germans are all bad, it's just the Nazis that I can't stand.  The real German army was actually kind of neat.  At least they tried to kill Hitler.  Only a table leg saved him and he never was the same after that.  So, maybe they sort of succeeded after all.  At least he was crazy enough to keep the Panzer divisions at Pas de Calais until July rather than sending them to Normandy on June 6th- right?


1 comment:

Robert D Hosken said...

Hi James,
Thanks for the good article! Just a few typos:

"ration of 10:1" should be "ratio of 10:1".

"Only England was stand a year later" should be "Only England was standing a year later".

"it's just the Nazi's that I can't stand" should be "it's just the Nazis that I can't stand".

In Christ, Bob Hosken