Tuesday, June 24, 2014

D-Day Reviewed 70 Years Later


June 6, 1944, Zero Hours USA, 0600 UMT:  By this time 70 years ago today, the 82nd and 101st Airborne were already in the air along with their British counterparts, the British 6th Airborne.  The Path Finders had gone along several hours before to mark the landing zones.  What will follow at 0600 (midnight here in the USA) will be the largest naval armada in history that will begin the bombardment of the coast of Normandy in preparation for the landing of between 130K to 150K troops, both airborne and ground assault.  There are many, many movies made about this day:

Time Line:
  • 6/4 1300 : Ike has the men start getting ready for D-Day.  Eisenhower predicts 94% casualties.
  • 6/5 2130 : 82nd and 101st Airborne prepare to board the C-47s for Normandy.
  • 6/5 2300 Airborne are already over the English Channel
  • 6/6 0130 : Paratroopers begin landing behind Omaha and Utah Beaches.  The Airborne units lost over 60 C-47s along with most of the men in the planes that morning due to AA fire.  
  • 6/6 0300 : Initial assault was loaded onto the LC (Landing Craft) from the troop carriers 
  • 6/6 0200 : 5,000 naval vessels move from the UK to Normandy.  This is the largest armada that the world has ever seen.  Over 600,000 men along with the associated tanks, jeeps, mortars, field rifles and trucks are on the way.
  •  6/6 0430 : 115th Reg, 29th Inf Div landing to knock out the big 88mm guns on the beach
  • 6/6 0630 : All forces are landed along a 60-mile front.  The USA landed over 314,000 men on the beach during the first 24 - 48 hours.  Quite an accomplishment for LC that carried on about 20 total men at one time.
  • 6/6 0650 : Rangers land at cliffs of Pointe du Hoc to take out the 88mm guns on the beach
  • 6/6 0830 : Field Marshall Rommel was still at home according to his son wondering if this was the real thing or whether it was just a fake attack since the main attack was expected at Pas de Calais up north of Normandy.  Pas de Calais was the closest point between England and France.
  • 6/6 0900 : Field Marshall Rommel calls for his car to go to Normandy.
  • 6/6 0930 : The beaches are declared as "secured" by the forces.
Personally, I highly recommend Band of Brothers, The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan as being some of the more realistic, along with Stalingrad (1993) and Das Boot..  After that, maybe The Big Red One and/or Le Bataillon du ciel.  The best "first" film on D-Day was "The Longest Day" and starred, at the time, everyone who was anyone in Hollywood.  Regardless, the British landed 314K men while the USA landed another 314K men.  All with one goal, to be first to Berlin.  But, that job was left to the Russians because Ike did not want to lose his men in the street battles that would follow and the Russians really wanted Berlin.  After all, the Russians lost more than 20 MILLION people due to WW II.

Anway, shortly, about midnight here, at 0600 GMT, the main battle was started.  There were a lot of politicians there on June 6, 2014, to memorialize the event; most whom have never seen combat - maybe none.  Most have never served in the military, including our own President.  Sad but true.

So, for the D-Day weekend, or any other time, there are your movies.  And you might want to throw in "Kelly's Heroes" and a few others just for good measure.  Remember those who gave all for the rest of the world and eventually defeated the German Nazi strangle-hold on Europe.


No comments: