Wednesday, June 06, 2007

D-Day: 6 June 1944 - 63 Years Ago Today

Sixty-three years ago, today, the Allied forces of the Western World gathered together on the airfields and in the ports of Great Britain, to invade Europe as the first step in reclaiming Europe from the totalitarian forces of the Nazis. 156,00 Allied troops made the assault on the beaches of Normandy, France.

11,590 aircraft were available to support the landings. On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties, and 127 were lost. In the airborne landings on both flanks of the beaches, 2395 aircraft and 867 gliders of the RAF and USAAF were used on D-Day.

Operation Neptune, the Naval side of the D-Day operation, commanded by Admiral Sir Bertram H. Ramsay, involved huge naval forces, including 6939 vessels: 1213 naval combat ships, 4126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. Some 195,700 personnel were assigned to Operation Neptune: 52,889 US, 112,824 British, and 4988 from other Allied countries.

(By the end of 11 June (D + 5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches.

As well as the troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day, and those in supporting roles at sea and in the air, millions more men and women in the Allied countries were involved in the preparations for D-Day. They played thousands of different roles, both in the armed forces and as civilians.)

Normandy Beach, a part of "Fortress Europe", became the first big Nazi domino to fall. It would spell the end of Nazi-ism in Europe, and free Allied forces to begin the final assault on Imperial Japan. And it came at a terrible price. Total Allied casualties on D-Day are estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. British casualties on D-Day have been estimated at approximately 2700. The Canadians lost 946 casualties. The US forces lost 6603 men.

British and Canadian forces landing on the morning
of D-Day, June 6th 1944. Juno Beach.

Casualties on the British beaches were roughly 1000 on Gold Beach and the same number on Sword Beach. The remainder of the British losses were amongst the airborne troops: some 600 were killed or wounded, and 600 more were missing; 100 glider pilots also became casualties. The losses of 3rd Canadian Division at Juno Beach have been given as 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner.

The breakdown of US casualties was 1465 dead, 3184 wounded, 1928 missing and 26 captured. Of the total US figure, 2499 casualties were from the US airborne troops (238 of them being deaths). The casualties at Utah Beach were relatively light: 197, including 60 missing. However, the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2000 casualties at Omaha Beach.

The total German casualties on D-Day are not known, but are estimated as being between 4000 and 9000 men.

Naval losses for June 1944 included 24 warships and 35 merchantmen or auxiliaries sunk, and a further 120 vessels damaged.

Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces. Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from 21st Army Group (British, Canadian and Polish ground forces), 125,847 from the US ground forces. The losses of the German forces during the Battle of Normandy can only be estimated. Roughly 200,000 German troops were killed or wounded. The Allies also captured 200,000 prisoners of war (not included in the 425,000 total, above). During the fighting around the Falaise Pocket (August 1944) alone, the Germans suffered losses of around 90,000, including prisoners.

Today, twenty-seven war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing. Thousands more fled their homes to escape the fighting.

Incidentally, the press did not paint all this carnage as a US plot to destroy the Constitution. They understood what was happening and why.

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From America's Story:

In the spring of 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander in Europe, had to make one of the most important decisions of World War II and time was quickly running out. Hundreds of thousands of Allied troops, sailors, and airmen awaited his orders to begin Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe. Eisenhower had already delayed Overlord for a month and postponed other military operations to allow the Allies enough time to build and gather together the landing craft they needed. He now set a date, June 5, 1944, and told his officers and men to be ready. Still, there was one factor beyond the Allies' control.

The Allied planners knew they could not control the weather for D-Day ("D-Day" was the first day of any military operation during the war. The expression "D-Day" has come to mean the greatest single Allied operation of World War II, the invasion of Normandy). Late on the evening of June 2, 1944, Eisenhower, his top generals, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to review the weather forecast. The news was not good--D-Day, June 5, promised cloudy skies, rain, and heavy seas. Eisenhower decided to wait another day to see whether the forecast might improve. Less than 24 hours before the scheduled invasion Eisenhower gathered his advisers again. The forecast indicated that the rain would stop and there would be breaks in the clouds by mid-afternoon on June 5.

Dwight Eisenhower giving orders to American paratroopers in England. (June 6, 1944).

Eisenhower decided to change the date for D-Day to June 6. He knew that the tides would not favor an invasion again for nearly two weeks, long enough for the Germans to possibly learn of the Allies' plan. Eisenhower gave the order and set in motion the largest amphibious invasion in world history; an armada of over 4,000 warships, nearly 10,000 aircraft, and about 160,000 invasion troops. The hard fought invasion was a success--Eisenhower had won his gamble with the weather. Within 2 months, Allied forces broke out from their Normandy beachheads and began the long heroic struggle to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.

Eisenhower's D-Day message to the Allied Forces:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.

The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Imagine what the MSM would make of such sentiments today. Take a moment, Friends, to remember the bravery of these men, as they waded ashore under the guns of the German defenders, flew above the beaches and towns of Normandy under the hail of anti-aircraft fire, sacrificed their very lives to begin the destruction of the Nazi terror. Imagine what our world would belike today had they acted as the modern Leftists believe they should act now, in the fight against Islamofascism.

Just imagine.

Thank you to all the veterans of D-Day, from all the Allied nations, and thanks to all the veterans of World War II. GOD bless each one of you!

American D-Day Graves

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Much of the first part of this post were borrowed from the D-Day Museum Online.

Primary Sources: D-Day - Photos & Maps: The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library


Jack Steiner said...

I enjoyed this post.

benning said...

Thanks, Jack!

Always On Watch said...

And today our so-called elected reps in Congress put their heads together so as to surrender to illegal invaders (aka "illegal immigrants"). Ugh!

Two of my uncles served on Omaha Beach. They came back physically whole, but forever psychologically scarred. I never heard a word of complaint from either of them, though.

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget...ever.

Brooke said...

Thanks for posting this, Benning. Too often we don't remember our forefather's great sacrifices.

defiant_infidel said...

Wow, Benning. Tremendous job as usual and so appropriate, too.

Your point about how the current LSM would react to such duty bound, patriotic support is so important to focus upon. It was as much a crucial part of our victory then as it is a glaringly missing component of our efforts now.

Thank you!

WomanHonorThyself said...

the images are outstanding Benning!..Thanks..Have a great weekend my friend! :)

Gayle said...

Wonderful pictures and post, Benning. Thank you! Yes, I can truly imagine the MSM's reaction. It's not difficult at all. They should be ashamed of themselves!