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The 70th Anniversary Of World War II's 'D-Day'

Seventy years ago, 160,000 allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy for D-Day. Now they’re turning 90. We remember.

U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf from a landing craft in the days following D-Day and the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France at Normandy in June 1944 during World War II.  (AP)

U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf from a landing craft in the days following D-Day and the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France at Normandy in June 1944 during World War II. (AP)

Tomorrow marks 70 years since D-Day and World War II’s all-out invasion of a mainland Europe controlled by the armies of Adolf Hitler.  June 6, 1944 was an epic, go-for-broke day with Allied forces storming the beaches of Normandy under withering German fire.  Now those American “boys” who went ashore at Omaha beach, Utah beach, who parachuted behind the lines, are pushing 90.  Many are already gone.  There is a kind of last salute that comes with this anniversary.  This hour On Point:  remembering a battle like no other, D-Day, 70 years on.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Carlo D’Este, American military historian and author. Author of “Decision in Normandy,” “Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life,” “Patton: Genius for War,” “Warlord: A Life of Winston Churchill at War, 1874 – 1945” and “World War II In The Mediterranean 1942 – 1945.”

Owen Glendening, associate vice president of education and access at the National WWII Museum.

Major Henry “Duke” Boswell, former communications sergeant in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in the Allied Offensive on “D-Day” in 1944. (@fourjumps)

Dawn Doucette, caregiver for Major Henry “Duke” Boswell.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: D-Day at 70: Historic photos from the invasion of Normandy — “While most in the U.S. know of the bloody scenes that immediately follow the beaching of amphibious craft on the shores of Normandy, the brunt of the fighting took place far from the coast. Some 20,000 French civilians would perish in the crossfire, most killed by Allied bombing. Allied and German forces engaged in pitched, chaotic skirmishes throughout the picturesque Norman countryside, marked by hedgerows and old stone-and-steeple towns.”

USA Today: D-Day: The most important weather forecast in history — “It was 70 years ago this week that Gen. Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, Group Capt. James Martin Stagg, made one of the most important weather forecasts of all time. Defying his colleagues, he advised Ike to postpone the invasion of Normandy by one day from June 5, 1944, to June 6, because of uncertain weather conditions.”

Boston Globe: How the French saw D-day — “Until recently, Americans have largely ignored the experience of the liberated, the French civilians—in particular the Normans—during those first days and weeks. After four years under the Nazi occupation, the men, women, and children of Normandy welcomed their liberators. But their gratitude was often mingled with confusion and bitterness: On D-day, American firepower took 3,000 French civilian lives, as many as the Americans lost to German firepower at Omaha Beach. By the time Normandy was fully liberated, more than 20,000 civilians had died, most of them victims of the Allied bombings that pummeled the region’s cities and towns.”

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  • Ray in VT

    Life, I think that it is, has put out a commemorative issue on D-Day. The cover says “the battle that won the war”, but I don’t think that it did. Obviously it was a massive, complicated and risky undertaking that cost many lives and finally really opened the long promised second front, as Italy wasn’t really engaging large numbers of German troops, and it was not the soft underbelly that was promised. Overall though, should Overlord have failed, the Third Reich was on the path to defeat, and I think that that would have happened anyways, although it would have taken longer. Failure would have been a disaster for the Anglo-American effort, but by mid-1944 I think that Germany’s fate was sealed.

    • northeaster17

      One of those paths to defeat was the ability of the allies to restrict the Nazi’s access to raw materials and fuel. They still had the will to fight but when you can’t get planes in the air or fuel to your tanks it’s just a matter of time.

      • Ray in VT

        They had failed to take the oil fields in the Caucasus, and they couldn’t use the Mediterranean, so their options for obtaining fuels were limited by 1944. They did have the will to fight, but the losses on the Eastern Front were just crushing. 110,000 Germans surrendered at Stalingrad in early 1943, and they lost at Kursk in August. Most of the Axis troops were deployed to the Eastern Front, so while the Western Front helped to bleed resources from the Reich, the losses in the East were, I think, just too much for it to bear by D-Day.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Hitler’s fate was sealed when he turned on the Soviets.

      Overload was an audacious plan and despite the difficulties and cost likely shortened the war and ultimately saved lives.

      • Ray in VT

        He might have been able to take out the Soviets had he been able to knock the British out of the war, and some have suggested that the German declaration of war against the United States in December of 1941 was a mistake, although I think that we would have gotten involved there regardless as long as Britain fought on.

        Operation Barbarossa was delayed when Germany had to bail out Italy in Greece, and that delay, combined with a Hitler ordered halt to the offensive cost the Germans time and allowed the Russians to regroup. Plus the horrible way in which the Nazis treated many people in Soviet lands who were often glad to see someone other than Stalin in charge cost them by alienating the local population. Plus there was just the logistics of such a long front. All in all it wasn’t a great idea, but it was a calculated gamble, because it was believed that the Soviet Union was industrializing and growing at such a rate that even if defeating it in 1941 would be tough, then defeating it within just a few years would be impossible.

        All of that, though, should not take away from the massive undertaking and achievement that was Overlord.

      • Ray in VT

        Also, relying upon Mussolini and Italy’s armed forces as an ally created problems.

        • jefe68

          Mussolini hated Hitler. He thought he was an idiot.

          • Ray in VT

            Some of Hitler’s generals weren’t too impressed by the military thinking of the Fuhrer.

          • jefe68

            No kidding. Franz Halder took a pistol into meetings with Hitler with the intention of shooting him as early as 1939 or 40.
            There were quite a few who disliked Hitler from the get go. How much the world would have been different if he had shot Hitler in 38.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Halder

  • AC

    this seems disrespectful to say, but the 1st call of duty i ever played was The battle of Pointe Du Hoc, which was the D-day re-enactment. It took me forever to get off that beach, i was too panicked. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do this in real life and i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t have been able to do it…..so, kudos to those who did – amazing!

    • AC

      for anyone who doesn’t play video games, here is the mission: maybe you can tell me if it’s accurate…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XwVw2_STHs&feature=kp

      • jefe68

        Call of Duty is based on Saving Private Ryan, which is pretty realistic, but Hollywood nonetheless.

        Band of Brothers is the best dramatization the 101st’ Easy company.

        • Ray in VT

          I just finished watching Band of Brothers recently. It is quite a good piece of film making.

        • AC

          i really liked band of brothers too!

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Private Ryan dramatized the Omaha landing and beachhead. Nothing on Pointe du Hoc.

          The irony is the German’s had removed the big guns from Pointe du Hoc making the Ranger’s primary mission unnecessary.

          • jefe68

            They mixed up a lot of battles in the game for entertainment value. Later versions were based on Band of Brothers.

            Which is why games are not the best way to express the realities of war.

          • AC

            it was real enough for me, i’m pretty sure if war is even a fraction of this, than i am a coward
            & at least it gave me serious respect for people who did/(do) this (i’ve done all the CODs except black ops)….

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Hmmm.

            We are really quibbling here over nothing but….

            Private Ryan was “based on” reality w/ fictionalized drama thrown that was sort of based on the Sullivan brothers tragedy.

            Band of Brothers was dramatized historical accounts.

            Did the the games incorporate any of the “fiction” in the movies? If not, then why not say the games were based on the historical accounts of the battles. Why credit the middleman at all.

  • X Y & Z

    During the war, FDR and Truman never freed any enemy combatants that had been captured on the battlefield trying to kill American soldiers. After the recent release of five Taliban commanders, you can’t say that about Obama.

    • Ray in VT

      Prisoner swaps have long been a part of conflicts, and the United States has certainly conducted them historically.

      • X Y & Z

        How many Axis troops did the US release during WW2?

        • Ray in VT

          It is hard to say. It is likely that some local exchanges may have been made, although there is this account, which says that on this occasion 149 Germans were exchanged:

          http://donmooreswartales.com/2010/05/12/harry-glixon/

          • X Y & Z

            The correct answer is none, during WW2.

          • Ray in VT

            Correct only if one ignores the account detailed in the link above. Perhaps you should look up the definition of correct. You keep using it in an inappropriate way.

          • X Y & Z

            Even the article states this was the only such occurrence during WW2 in Europe. .01%

          • Ray in VT

            One event is more than none, and .01% is more than zero. Also, feel free to consult the book that hennorama referenced above. That work contains information on U.S. exchanges with the Axis powers.

            I am glad, though, that you have admitted your error and have corrected your position accordingly.

          • X Y & Z

            You have to admit, it’s not a widely known story. I still say that President Obama should have not released the five Taliban commanders.

          • Jill122

            I still say that President Obama should have not released the five Taliban commanders.
            =========
            Of course you do. What else could you possibly say? You have no choice. Everyone understands.

          • X Y & Z

            Thanks for re-blogging my blog. Feel free to do it anytime.

          • hennorama

            Jill122 — indeed, it’s just how the drone-bot functions. Spew BS, then Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

          • Ray in VT

            Correct, but it is a story, so maybe you should check your facts before making proclamations that such things did not occur.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — And there’s this:

            (giving respect to today’s other forum, I used a secondary source for this, but it’s the same description as on youknowwho’s site):

            Mercy Ships : The Untold Story of Prisoner-of-War Exchanges in World War II by David Miller and Miller (2008, Hardcover)

            A remarkable insight into the humanitarian exchanges and communications between warring governments during the Second World War.

            Remarkably, throughout World War Two, and even when the violence was its height, the allied and axis governments remained in contact through third parties in order to achieve humanitarian ends such as the exchange of wounded prisoners-of-war, of “protected” persons, such as medical personnel and priests, and of civilian internees. This involved detailed negotiations, careful planning and coordination, and the movement of protected ships and trains through war zones. This book fills an important gap in the history of World War Two describing how the warring governments of Britain, America, Germany and Japan not only communicated with each other but also exchanged large numbers of people and goods, thus showing that, despite the bloodshed and killing, a spark of humanity still existed.

            See:
            http://www.ebay.com/ctg/Mercy-Ships-Untold-Story-Prisoner-of-War-Exchanges-World-War-II-David-Miller-and-Miller-2008-/64061398

          • Ray in VT

            Thanks. I also saw that. There is a chapter on U.S.-German exchanges. I wonder how many pages the author filled there. I must be a short chapter, considering that supposedly the correct answer is zero.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — it is always interesting to read the loud, proud, and wrong, remarks of absolutists.

          • Ray in VT
          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — for some reason, Sir Nobler Than Thou (self-proclaimed) The Omniscient One comes to mind.

            Yanno, because he’s a musician.

          • jefe68

            WW 2 is a different time and a completely different kind of conflict. The war of terrorism has no real front and no army.
            I would think the Cold war would be a better comparison.

            Anyway Israel has made countless prisoner swaps for solders, and the US has done deals with all sorts of groups in the past. No doubt they will in the future no matter who’s in the White House.

          • Mike

            NPR this morning did a story on this subject. And because they were afraid to look at precedent, or lack thereof, for swapping prisoners in the US for what it might reveal, they too absurdly turned their attention to Israel, and interviewed some Israeli official to find out what Israel has done in the past with prisoner swaps. How absurd is that?
            That said, I think it’s a fallacy to call the Taliban leaders that we had “prisoners” — as though we stumbled upon them in battle and had to hold them and take care of them until the war was over and then give them back. We HUNTED THESE PEOPLE OUT because they were so dangerous to the US. We captured them and took them away because we wanted them out of action. That’s COMPETELY different than having some POW’s leftover after a battle that we could care less about, or, capturing a low-level soldier who wandered from a base or fell behind his group. That’s the lie, or distortion, that the administration is perpetrating here. You don’t just give up 5 people that you consider to be so dangerous as leaders of the opposition that you hunted them out and removed them from their country. Something else is going on.

          • Mike

            Also, the administration and the media keep shifting their frame of analysis on this issue — in one instance the frame it as negotiating with terrorists. In the next, it’s trading “prisoners of war”. How you frame this may make a difference in how we judge this swap.

          • jefe68

            So you don’t see how the context of prisoners, in this case Israel’s, is related to a story about a prisoner exchange.
            Right. And look at all of those words you typed out as well. I’m impressed.

          • Mike

            I’m not saying that it isn’t related — so I’m not dismissing that story you reference. Israel has some relevance.
            But, what I’m saying is it’s not like the US is a new nation — we have 160 or more years on Israel. And we’re a very militaristic country. So we have a long 200 or more year history of dealing with war, and prisoners, and terrorism, etc. So we have our own precedence to look to in order to judge whether the actions that our own President took are in line with our own values. So I’m criticizing NPR for looking solely at Israel for counsel and precedent on how to deal with prisoners. By looking exclusively at Israel, and not even considering or examining our own history, NPR I believe is distracting us because they don’t believe that what we’ll discover supports the President’s actions.
            If we were a nation that was 20 years old, and we had no prior experience in this realm, then we’d have to look elsewhere for models on what to do.

          • jefe68

            Hey, I thought you were done responding to me. What gives Bupkis?

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — well … you know.

        • Ray in VT

          And knowing is half the battle.

      • Mike

        Do you have examples? I’m assuming there must also be examples of times when we didn’t engage in prisoner swaps.

        • Ray in VT

          I have a link below for one such exchange, and there is information in the book that hennorama has referenced.

          • Mike

            Even if there are examples of such, the bottom line is that we do have a spirit of not trading in that way. We aspire to not doing that. But, even if we collectively feel that Obama should have made that trade, the next issue is that he didn’t contact Congress. He should have done this. They had to act quickly? How quickly? They could have, at a minimum, informed the Speaker. Or involved him in the process. There’s no denying that. The bottom line is that Obama just did what he wanted to do. As usual.

          • jefe68

            Great, lets use the memory of D Day to forward ones political agenda.

          • Mike

            You are a sort of linear, inside the lines person. so don’t join in.

          • hennorama

            Mike — please, why not just declare “I’m eruditer/nobler/holier than thou,” and save everyone some time?

          • jefe68

            Wait for it, he’s going to do on about his “mens group”.

          • hennorama

            jefe68 — Thank you for your response.

            Yeah, I caught his shtick in the Misogyny And Murder: Unpacking A Killing In California forum, and the dozens and dozens of posts (maybe over 100), which he seems to have tried to delete/disavow, all of which are now attributed to [Guest].

            Thanks again.

          • Mike

            Do you know why I deleted those? I’ll tell you why. I was actually embarrassed that I got sucked into this sort of petty, stupid, off-the-subject debating that you engage in. That’s honestly why. I really enjoy debate and discussion, and I actually very often change my opinion if the opponent presents solid arguments. Debate and argument are tools for learning and expanding your understanding. But you (and a few others in that debate) got totally off topic and begin insulting people rather than respond to the substance of their argument. As you’re beginning to do in this debate.

          • Mike

            I’m referring to Jefe68.

          • jefe68

            Referring to what Mr. Bupkis?

          • jefe68

            The pettiness, was all you. I just threw it back at you and I guess you just could not “man up”…

          • Mike

            This is my last response to you, but you addressed me first in this forum today, and I have no interest in engaging you, unless it’s on the substance of the issues.

            So you addressed me, and the first thing you say is “Great, lets use the memory of D Day to forward ones political agenda.”
            So, I rest my case. I’m done dialoging with you.

          • jefe68

            You posted what you did. I responded to your inane comment about president Obama. You could have ignored me. But noooooooo… you have to get in your huff and drive it around the block a few times.
            Then you get all red in the face and start in with the high and mighty act.

            Do yourself a favor mack, drop the self-righteous act, it’s not looking good on you.

          • Mike

            Isn’t that what she’s declaring with her critical comment? That she’s of a higher plane of integrity?

          • jefe68

            You’re piece of cake, take a powder bud and brush off.

          • Mike

            Sticks and stones….

          • jefe68

            What a maroon…

          • Ray in VT

            I think that questions regarding the exact process and informing Congress are valid, however I think that the impeachment clamoring is pretty much just more partisan politics (and to be clear I am not suggesting that you are advocating that with your comment).

            Historically states, includes ours, have long said that they don’t deal with terrorists or pay ransoms, but then they do.

          • Mike

            I voted for Obama in ’08. Not in ’12. I think that there are many reasons for which he could be legitimately impeached. I’m all for it. I actually called Walter Jones office to say “will you tell this guy to move forward with the impeachment”. I’m horrified at what the guy has done.

          • X Y & Z

            You make some excellent points.

          • Mike

            And the point here is that — if most of us, if the average person — were in that position, and we had been under criticism repeatedly in the past for ignoring Congress and The Constitution, of lying, of going back on all of our campaign promises in the most egregious manner —- WE, THE AVERAGE, NORMAL PEOPLE, WOULD GO OUT OF OUR WAY IN SUBSEQUENT SITUATIONS TO SHOW OUR INTEGRITY AND SINCERE BELIEF IN THE RULE OF LAW AND DO THESE THINGS. WE WOULD CARE TO SEND THE RIGHT SIGNALS. The man clearly just does not care.

    • Jill122

      Which war? You mean the evergreen War on Terror or just the War in Afghanistan winding down as we speak. Those five were Afghanis and would have been released by the end of this year, unless “some people” decide that the rules need to be changed. We release those we hold when the fighting is over, even if we never take them to court to actually prove that the people we are holding were “enemy combatants.” I’m still stuck on the whole “torture” for info thingy.

      • X Y & Z

        You were the blogging that Bergdahl was “kidnapped”, even though it was widely reported that he had deserted his post.

        • Ray in VT

          Desertion to me seems to imply that he left for good, which I do not think has been established. Until or unless evidence that he was not “kidnapped” or captured by the Taliban, then that is what I am going with. Do you have some sort of evidence that he was not held against his will?

          • X Y & Z

            Intentionally leaving your post is desertion.

          • Ray in VT

            But if he had returned 20 minutes later I don’t think that he would have been charged with such.

          • hennorama

            X Y & Z — that is false.

            Loud, proud, and wrong (“again” seems superfluous here).

          • jefe68

            Ignore the troll.

          • X Y & Z

            I’m making it a point of staunchly ignoring of imbeciles like you.

          • jefe68

            Do tell… the evidence is not forthcoming.

    • Kathy
      • hennorama

        Kathy — but you see, those don’t count, because they were only the “seriously ill and disabled.”

        Or something.

    • jimino

      Of course that was when Americans weren’t such whipped up cowards, so thousands of the captured enemy were housed in fairly insecure camps where they worked alongside US farmers and factory workers. Compare that to the brazen cowardice of those who won’t even allow current captured to be housed in maximum security prisons.

      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/german-pows-on-the-american-homefront-141009996/?no-ist

      By the way, when are you going to point out that FDR, Truman and the Allied command in WWII should have been prosecuted for war crimes for all the innocent civilians they killed? I thought that was your main schtick.

      The collective sacrifice and bravery in making and carrying out unbelievably difficult missions during WWII, at home and abroad, is something the entire world should give thanks for. It would be impossible with today’s history-ignorant, partisan brainwashed populace.

      • jefe68

        I’ve always wondered why the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo have never been looked at in this light. But that’s a different show.

        What beach you landed on really depended on your survival rate. Omaha had 92% causality rate to Juno’s 40% or so.

        As to the bunkers, the Germans used steel re-enforced concrete that withstood direct hits from the naval guns. Most of which overshot the marks by miles. Not one German died from the arial or Naval bombardments.

    • Kathy

      Also, aren’t you even a little bit ashamed to sully the sacrifices made on D-Day with your tawdry political jibes. “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

      • jefe68

        This chap is a troll, best to ignore.
        .

        • X Y & Z

          I avoid you like a plague.

          • jefe68

            Grow up troll. You stink up this forum with your daily childish prattle.

          • X Y & Z

            Keep acting like an imbecile. You’re quite entertaining.

      • X Y & Z

        I’ll assume that you support Obama’s decision to release Taliban commanders, who had been picked up fighting American soldiers on the battlefield.

        You must be so proud of yourself.

    • Jeff

      You’re correct if you’re referencing terrorists that were not in uniform and were operating as spies. I believe that’s a more apt comparison since these Taliban hide among the civilian population and do not wear a uniform.

      • Ray in VT

        At least a couple of them were officials/leaders in the Taliban government, so I don’t think that it is really accurate to equate them with spies, although the problems of stateless actors certainly presents problems with how we deal with such people, as most of our systems are geared towards engaging people who are acting on behalf of a government, which the Taliban was until we helped to drive it from power.

      • X Y & Z

        You make a good point. My point is that releasing enemy combatants during a war or conflict (as Obama did), is foolish and has not been done historically by the US.

        • Jeff

          The issue with terrorism is that it’s never ending, there is no established battlefield and no one wears a uniform. The Taliban should be treated like spies and international criminals.

        • Ray in VT

          Perhaps we have never released “enemy combatants” because that term was only dreamed up a few years ago. Prisoner exchanges and swaps have historically been conducted by the U.S.

          • pete18

            Not during a war, only after. Only sick or soldiers who were unable to fight were ever swapped during a war. We still have soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that your statement is incorrect.

          • pete18

            Well that’s pretty vague. What part is incorrect?

          • Ray in VT

            That we didn’t do it during war, only after. That it was only soldiers sick or unable to fight.

          • pete18

            And your evidence for that is…?

          • Ray in VT

            The link that I previously used is one. There is the book that hennorama referenced. Those are a couple of sources regarding World War II. Exchanges occurred during the Civil War, as well as during the American Revolution.

          • pete18

            All I see is an Eisenhower address to the troops. Can you repost?

          • Ray in VT
          • pete18

            I stand corrected. Intersting article.

          • Ray in VT

            I thought that it was an interesting story, especially about how the solider threw away his dog tags because of the H stamp. I didn’t know of any specific cases pertaining to World War II, although it didn’t surprise me that at least a few did occur. I sort of want to read the Miller book now.

        • M S

          Not to mention the release was illegal, but then again, our Presidents can renege on a promise and do whatever they want to with a simple signing statement…perfect.

          • X Y & Z

            Agreed. Hopefully the terrorists that Obama illegally released, won’t engage in any plots to kill Americans.

            But terrorists will be terrorists, and they tend to stick to what they know best.

          • M S

            It’ll be okay, those guys look like some fairly peaceful individuals…jeez.

  • Mike

    Just want to say kudos to OnPoint. Diane Rehm is running the same topic during this hour. OnPoint’s guest list looks much better.

  • nj_v2

    Ryan’s The Longest Day is a classic book on the events leading up to, and including, D-Day. Read it when i was in high school.

    • Ray in VT

      Pegasus Bridge by Stephen Ambrose was a nice little volume about a not well known British action.

  • New_Clear_Waste

    While the U.S. defeated imperial Japan, it was really the Soviets who defeated Hitler. The turning point was the battle of Stalingrad in 1943. The fact that Hitler was on the defensive on the eastern front was why Eisenhower found France as lightly defended as it was.

    • tbphkm33

      Very true. The Russian’s paid the highest price for WWII. The West tends to forget that if it was not for the Soviets, the Allies probably would not have defeated Germany.

      • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

        were it not for the idiocy of Adolph who was well aware a 2 front war was suicidal… but did it anyway- the arrogance and irresistable destructive impulses of megalomaniacs.

  • JP_Finn

    Something about D-Day concentrates the essence of combat that is so impossible for civilians such as myself to relate to: the idea that you are going to willingly go into an action where countless people are trying their damndest to end your life, and the only way to live on is to end theirs first. In that respect, I find all frontal infantry attacks during the age of the gun simply astonishing, not just D-Day, but also U.S. Civil War battles, pretty much all Napoleonic warfare, early WWI assaults, etc.

  • Jeff

    The Allies deceived Hitler into believing that the invasion was going to take place in Calais rather than Normandy due to a huge deception project called Operation Fortitude. If Hitler wasn’t so stubborn and confident in his own abilities he might have been able to fend off the beachhead that the Allies established on D-Day.

    • hennorama

      Jeff — it was a rather audacious and effective counter-intelligence operation, including putting General Patton in charge of a fake army:

      What was General Patton doing on D-Day?

      Operation Quicksilver

      On June 6 1944, Patton was sitting on the shores of England at the head of a fake army. He was part of the largest and most successful deception operation of World War II. Operation Quicksilver was part of a larger deception plan called Operation Fortitude South/Operation Bodyguard. The plan was used to cloak the build up of the Allied Army and disguise the destination of the invasion.

      See:
      http://www.generalpatton.org/d-day/patton_dday.htm

    • jefe68

      Plus they wasted three years in building up the French part of the Atlantic wall. If they had done what Rommel wanted to do with more time, D Day could have failed.
      People forget, the German army on those defensive lines also ran out of ammo. Most of them only had three days of ammo when they were supposed to have a few weeks worth. So many interesting variables that lead to the success of D Day.

    • Andy Davis

      Or if he’d listened to his staff, especially some hack named Rommel.

    • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

      Yeah, the MAN WHO NEVER WAS, book I read as a kid- they handcuffed briefcase with fake Invasion Plans to young corpse dressed as courier intelligence officer and let him wash up on beach- lucky Resistance didn’t find him.

      Had they concentrated tanks and men in the right place they could have caused the bloodbath Eisenhower feared- even into the afternoon of 6/6 Hitler was convinced Normandy was a diversion.

  • dt03044

    I never thought about it before, but given the bad weather and rough seas, it’s possible our GIs were suffering sea sickness when they hit the beaches. As if the mission wasn’t tough enough already!

  • Ray in VT

    Eisenhower’s address to the troops:
    http://www.army.mil/d-day/message.html

  • AC

    he means in modern warfare, doesn’t he?……i’m thinking about hannibal….

  • JBK

    I was born in Paris in 1943 so I have direct memories of D-Day. But in the year that followed every June 6 my mother and grandmother spoke of it to me and always concluded with “Never forget to say thank you to all the brave men who came to free us.” Gentlemen, to all of you alive or dead, THANK YOU!

    PS – at the time all the men in our family were either in the Resistance (the underground), with General DeGaulle or in concentration camps – and for what you did, they all came home.

  • nj_v2

    “Possible”? I guess. Floors of some of the transport ships were covered in vomit. Blend in smells of overflowing toilets and diesel fumes. It’s remarkable anyone was even able to fight when they arrived.

  • jefe68

    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    From Henry V, scene III

  • jefe68

    Most of them missed the targets and hit the towns, hence the high civilian casualties. Also the German bunkers were constructed out of heavy reinforced concrete that were designed to take direct hits. Rommel was no idiot, he knew that the Allied invasion had to be stopped on the beaches and that they had one chance of doing that.

  • X Y & Z

    “Politicians are the lowest form of life on Earth.
    Liberal Democrats are the lowest form of politicians.”

    General George Patton

    • Ray in VT

      Below Nazis? That’s a pretty strong sentiment. Well, the dude was crazy.

      • X Y & Z

        The man was a genius, as well as an outstanding general. Patton was the kind of American who made you proud to be an American. You can’t say that about Obama.

        • Ray in VT

          He also thought that he had fought at Carthage, and the quote that you referenced appears to have only ever been cited in one source, leading some to question its authenticity. I do not think that I have ever looked at Patton and thought “hey, that guy makes me proud to be a ‘Merican”. While he was a daring and flamboyant general, he was also reckless and I don’t think that he would have been able to do the job that Eisenhower did.

          • X Y & Z

            “Reckless”? That’s pure conjecture on your part. Patton is widely regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest combat general in WW2. Eisenhower was a desk general, not a combat general like Patton was.

          • Ray in VT

            In reading some works, including Day of Battle by Rick Atkinson, “reckless” is one word that I think could be used to describe him. He also appears to perhaps have been hated by his men. For his gifts on the battlefield, I don’t think that he possessed the skills necessary to get the various Allies to work together as they needed to in order to properly execute the war effort.

          • JS

            Wait, “reading works”, what are you, some kind of ivory tower academic? We don’t need no stinking reading,

          • Ray in VT

            Well, I could put some of those letters from my fancy degrees after my name, but that’s too elitist. I prefer to think of myself as one of the people. A common man if you will.

          • JS

            It’s ok to be elitist. My father, an ice cream delivery truck driver and mother, a gum factory worker, were both elitist: they wanted me to go to college.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that my dad wanted for me to be a farmer. My mother just wanted me to do something that would make me happy.

          • jefe68

            Patton would have lasted about a week in Eisenhower’ job. Anyway he was not a 4 star General. My great uncle served under him and has he use to tell it his men feared and respected him.

            I’m not sure reckless is a good word, he was able to get his men to make some great sacrifices. I think the word better suited is bold tactician.

        • TFRX

          Wow. Wanna take a crack at that whole “the civilian gummint is in charge of the military” thing, or do you just want to be subservient to a military-led dictatorship?

          Jackhole.

          • X Y & Z

            I don’t apologize for being critical of an incompetent Commander in Chief, as you clearly do.

          • TFRX

            You and “clearly” really need to find a dictionary.

      • jefe68

        Eisenhower came very close to dismissing Patton and sending him stateside due to his misconduct and blatant disregard of orders in the field.
        Patton was a brilliant tank commander, but his tendency to shoot off the mouth coupled with his fiery temper did not suit well with most.
        As his absurd statement being misused above alludes too.

        • Ray in VT

          Based on one thing that I read that quote may have popped up in the 1980s and only in one source, so it may not be legit. It does sound to me a bit like something that Patton would say, given his reputation. I think that at a banquet for officers as forces were departing stateside for Operation Torch he is quoted as saying something like “to the wives; what beautiful widows they will make.”

          • jefe68

            Well, it’s hard to know what he said and in what context. It’s probably safe to say generals of that era did not have a lot of time for politicians.

            When Kennedy was grappling with the Cuban missile crisis he was up against some very right wing members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff some of whom were advocating nuking the Russians. Think about that for a minute or so.

    • hennorama

      Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.

      – George S. Patton

      Source:
      http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_s_patton_2.html#FcCKaEyqPMg4UvZ0.99

    • JGC

      Hey x, your constant reversion to Obama diatribes today has been very disruptive to generating sustained and thoughtful discussion on a topic as sacred –yes, sacred– as remembrance of D-Day. And what that meant to Americans. What that meant to the world.

      There are “community rules” here at On Point (see the link at the top in bright blue letters). You are in violation of at least a couple of them, namely the requirements to “stay on topic” and to refrain from “trolling”. Save it for the Friday boards, which are welcomed as more open and wide-ranging discussions.

      • X Y & Z

        You’re really off point with that incoherent rant.

        • JGC

          Incoherent? I don’t think so. Not at all. Do you recognize there are Community Rules for On Point? I didn’t make them; they are listed there for all to see and abide.

          And if you cannot exercise that small bit of self control which contributes to a better and more politic exchange of ideas , then Mr. Ashbrook, we need a clean-up over here in aisle three.

          • X Y & Z

            What would please you would be to censor all criticism of Obama from this site. That’s the typical liberal reaction, cry censorship.

          • JGC

            I don’t begrudge you any criticism of Obama on any other page, as you know. This was not an appropriate use of the board today. Here is my last word on the subject, and pay particular attention to the paragraph “Don’t “feed” the trolls.”

            http://www.wbur.org/community/rules

          • X Y & Z

            “not an appropriate use of the board today”

            Who are you to decide what is appropriate? I quoted a well known saying from General Patton that I felt was relevant to this episode of On Point, yet you used it as an excuse to launch a personal attack against me. That sounds like trolling to me.

  • notafeminista

    The soldiers who knew they were walking into certain death..and went anyway. It takes one’s breath away.

    • hennorama

      And the soldiers after them, who saw them go down, and the ones after them …

  • PolinaWellingsiso

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  • Roberto

    It’s said that hindsight is 20/20 and history is full of that. It seems to me after reading about the invasion that Allied airpower could have played a much more proactive role than it did, especially in the landings stage, especially in the Omaha Beach sector. I would have liked that the Americans have sent an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean near to France from where squadrons of Navy airplanes would have been dispatch to bomb the artillery and machine emplacements of the Atlantic Wall. Moreover, the presence of the aircraft carrier task force would have probably played a pivotal role in the taking of the Cherbourg peninsula and also in the battle of the hedge groves. They could have taken out many of the Tiger tanks that were massacring our Sherman tank crews.

    • jefe68

      Well, given that the US was fighting a huge naval war in the Pacific with the Japanese, who’s fleet was not to be taken for granted, even after Midway. Ad to that by 44 the Pacific fleet still did not fully recover from the losses of Pearl Harbor, it would have been a fools errand to move an entire aircraft carrier task force into the Atlantic.
      Especially when one adds the Wolf packs to the mix.

      The other thing, the English air fields were close enough for plenty of fighter and bomber support. The Allies had almost complete air superiority from 44 onwards.

      • Roberto

        I grant you that you do have a good point in what you say. On the other hand, the English air fields as close as they were – remained inadequate for around the clock fighter and bomber support against the German shore positions. The preliminary bomb runs carried out left too many Atlantic Wall emplacements intact enough that these cost our invading troops too many dead. The only beach in which the Allies suffered far fewest numbers of casualties was Utah Beach. The three British and Canadian beaches plus Omaha were horrible killing fields. Yes, we still needed air craft carriers in the Pacific but then the US could have built an aircraft carrier back in 1942-1943 specially for the European Theater. Moreover, by the time of the Normandy Landings, the War in the North Atlantic against the U-Boats had already been won by the Allies.

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