[This post is bumped up to the top and will be kept at the top of the blog through tomorrow]
"In the final choice, a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower
On June 6th, 1944, over 150,000 men landed by air and sea in Normandy to liberate Europe from Nazi oppression. Operation Overlord planned for the invasion of the 50-mile stretch of coast to be completed in just 24 hours.
In years past, we've had a military bloggers and friends post about D-Day. (We used to call them blog-bursts.) So, in an effort to continue to preserve the history and honor of our efforts long ago, we will post these blog posts and add new ones every year. We intend to keep this at the top of the blog until June 7th. The D-Day blog burst is after the Jump and will be updated as bloggers submit (send me your links via email).
Because, in the end, it is about our legacy...
"..The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb..." - President Ronald Reagan, at the Ranger Monument, 6 June 1984, in Pointe Du Hoc, Normandy, France
Welcome to a MilBlogs And Friends Special Edition of the Anniversary of D-Day!
Below you will find links to extraordinary bloggers telling the stories of D-Day from their unique perspectives. Instead of term paper descriptions, you'll see the beaches and cliffs of the Normandy coast, you'll read letters of the survivors and hear about the great sacrifices made by our neighbors to the north...and you'll never forget the Greatest Generation.
Let us begin:
We'll start with this video presentation of President Roosevelt's radio address asking the nation to pray for the men invading France:
Joe Katzman (Blackfive's favorite Cannuck) at Winds of Change covers one of my parts of D-Day - The Canadians at Juno. The Canadians had some of the toughest fighting ahead of them on Juno Beach, and their objective was to stop the Germans from targeting the Americans on Omaha Beach. They performed brilliantly on June 6th, driving deeper into France than any other landing - and engaging the 21st Panzer before it could crush the American beachhead at Omaha. This is the story of one of the Canadians in Juno's first wave: Jim Wilkins, B Company, The Queen's Own Rifles. Includes a map and photo.
Chap of Chapomatic has written a post about the X-Craft - a small submarine that the Royal Navy used during the invasion and the impact it has on Chap's job today in the US Navy.
Grim Beorn of Grim's Hall has written about the Scot's role in the Invasion of Normandy. Grim adds in an email, "Since BBC Scotland has decided not to do a D-Day memorial for the Scots who fought there, we who have not forgotten will try."
Winds of Change guest blogger J.K.L. has a piece about the deceptions that were launched to keep the Germans guessing. Imagine preparing to land more than 1,000,000 men on 50 miles of beach. There will be more than 2,700 ships, 2,500 landing craft and 700 warships. Preparations for an assault on this scale couldn't be hidden or kept totally secret, so what could be done protect the identity of the actual target and confuse the enemy?
Serenity has a post about the personal accounts of the heroes of D-Day. She provides pictures and links to more information about them.
Mammamontezz has written a poem - "Red Surf" - that'll be one of the most heartfelt poems you've read in a long, long time.
Blake of Laughing Wolf has an excellent post about the deception efforts - D-Day + 60 Years: The Maskirova (the deception by General George Patton). It's an amazing story.
Dogtulosba Ink. has an examination of the German Fortress Europe defenses from a US Army Engineer perspective. He'll have more later on what our Engineers did to breech those defenses.
Teresa of Technicalities posts about the news media reaction to D-Day. As Teresa writes, "To those waiting at home it was not a day for rejoicing, it was a day for prayer, hope, fear, and contemplation."
Deb from Marine Corps Moms has a great post (titled appropriately enough) - Home Front. As the allied forces fought for victory on the beaches of Normandy, those at home waited, watched, and worried. The home front was a vital part of the war effort and everyone was urged to contribute. Are things different today? Yes and no. The home front is still a vital part of the war effort and everyone can contribute.
Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette is forecasting the weather and will be talking of the war soon.
Jennifer of Jennifer's History and Stuff has a series about what life in France was like before the invasion - French History: The Occupation. Jennifer writes, "...the Occupation is the most-studied period of French history."
Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping has written about The awful stakes of D-Day: The alternate history of June 6, 1944 is too terrible to contemplate. He describes D-Day as one of the "pivot days of human history."
Eric the Straight White Guy has a post (his words, not mine) about "...a few jarheads that were present during the landing on Normandy."
Harvey of Bad Example (a former Sailor) has a post about the humor of the day. Why do a post about the humor of WWII and D-Day? According to Harv, "Because back during the early 40's, Americans didn't fear their enemies. They made fun of them."
Vox of Vox Popoli writes of the memories of war and how those of us of later generations remember their sacrifices.
David of Airborne Combat Engineer has a post about the role of the Airborne Forces (Paratroopers and Gliders) in Operation Overlord.
Drill Sergeant Rob of An American Soldier takes a look at the way the soldiers of Operation Overlord trained for war, from Basic Training to the Devon Coast in England prior to the invasion. And a look at how it parallels some of the training we conduct today, including how little the basics have changed over the last sixty years.
Our friend, the late Major Andrew Olmstead has a post about the training our troops underwent for preparation for landing at Normandy. He includes the high price some training exercises incurred and their impact on D-Day.
Hans Nyberg has some really cool panorama photo shots of the D-Day locations. Check out the Pointe du Hoc to see how it must have looked to the Army Rangers. There is also the Pegasus Bridge, St. Mere Eglise, and the HMS Belfast.
Juliette of Baldilocks has posted President Reagan's speech atop the cliffs of the Pointe du Hoc.
Sarah of Trying to Grok has written about perceptions of D-Day by German students and thanks Joe and Tommy.
Cool Blue Blog has a post about Omaha Beach and the USS Arkansas (his father served aboard the Arkansas).
SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse has a post about one of the Greatest Generation and the difference between the young Americans of 1944 and 2004.
Ordinary Christian posts Winston Churchill's address about the invasion of France to the House of Commons on June 6th ,1944.
...There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies. There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United States...
Also, Ordinary Christian also posts General Eisenhower's address to the troops before the invasion and about Four Men on D-day who were awarded the MOH.
John at Op-For picks my favorite piece from the landing at Normandy - Point du Hoc. The Rangers scaled the cliffs only to find their objective missing...
Captain B at One Marine's View has a post about Role Models...from D-Day in 1944 to the streets of Ramadi.
John Donovan at Argghhh! has two posts about D-Day - A Paratrooper Jumps - H-5 (with more from paratrooper Don Burgett) and Slapton Sends D+38. And definitely check out the photo essay of the landing H Hour...
Echo9er has a post complete with a New York Times article about the invasion...can you tell the difference between the Times of 1944 and now?
Confederate Yankee has General George Patton's speech to the troops before the invasion:
"Men, this stuff we hear about America wanting to stay out of the war, not wanting to fight, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight - traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player; the fastest runner; the big league ball players; the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win - all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost, not ever will lose a war, for the very thought of losing is hateful to an American."
"You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Every man is frightened at first in battle. If he says he isn't, he's a goddamn liar. Some men are cowards, yes! But they fight just the same, or get the hell shamed out of them watching men who do fight who are just as scared. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some get over their fright in a minute under fire, some take an hour. For some it takes days. But the real man never lets fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to this country and his innate manhood."...
Damn right, sir...
Cool Blue Blog has an interesting post about the oldest Battleship in the Fleet (his father was aboard during the invasion)...
"In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
Ashore, facing us, were more enemy troops than we had in our assault waves. The advantages were all theirs, the disadvantages all ours. The Germans were dug into positions that they had been working on for months, although these were not yet all complete.
A one-hundred-foot bluff a couple of hundred yards back from the beach had great concrete gun emplacements built right into the hilltop. These opened to the sides instead of to the front, thus making it very hard for naval fire from the sea to reach them. They could shoot parallel with the beach and cover every foot of it for miles with artillery fire.
Then they had hidden machine-gun nests on the forward slopes, with crossfire taking in every inch of the beach. These nests were connected by networks of trenches, so that the German gunners could move about without exposing themselves..."
And that's just for openers.
Our own Laughing Wolf submits European Command's excellent resources about D-Day.
The Mudville Gazette offers up D-Day Minus One - it begins with a message from General Eisenhower.
Chuck Z at From My Position...On the Way has a great post up about the myths about tanks on D-Day. (hint: tanks were there in the fight)
PoliSat honors D-Day:
Old Blue of Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure writes of the Benchmark of D-Day
Some Soldier's Mom writes of the D-Day Memorial and the need to preserve it. You can ask your congressman to support the intitiative. Great photos of the memorial at SSM's place, too!
John Donovan at Castle Argghhh adds the following posts to the D-Day round up:
Hooah Wife posts a thank you to men of D-Day.