The day of Days : 6th JUNE 1944 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-06-2006, 09:31 PM
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The day of Days : 6th JUNE 1944

U.S. / UTAH 197
U.S. / OMAHA 2,000
U.K. / GOLD 413
CAN. / JUNO 1,204
U.K. / SWORD 630
GUESS 9,000 total (of which 3,000 may have been fatalities)

The day is almost done. May they and all the others be honored for ever.

Ladies & Gentlemen.... 62 years ago at approximately Now(23;15 BST) a Horsa Glider Piloted by S/Sgt. Jim Wallwark of the British Army's Glider Pilot Regiment landed his Aircraft & 28 Men of the 2nd Bn; "The OX & Bucks" Regiment @ the Orne River Bridge-Benouville France, AKA "Pegasus Bridge". The Invasion of Normandy had Begun....

Last edited by guage; 06-06-2006 at 09:34 PM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-06-2006, 09:55 PM
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God rest their souls and grant them peace. Free men the world over owe them everything.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2006, 05:55 AM
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The airborne assault
The airborne forces on D-Day were designed to carry out two vital tasks – secure the flanks of the landing zones and attack key strategic targets in order to facilitate the amphibious landings.

The British:
The British contingent was tasked with taking the eastern areas of the assault zone as well as specialised missions targeting key sites and installations. The most famous of these were the attacks on Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Battery.

The operation to capture Pegasus Bridge would be carried out by a picked company – ‘D’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry – and would see the first allied troops land in occupied France on D-Day.

The attack saw this small force deployed in Horsa gliders – named for the Jutish king who invaded Britain in the 5th Century AD – and would involve some precise flying with little or no navigational aids in the dead of night. The soldiers – led by Major John Howard – had practiced the assault precisely for weeks before the operation and quickly overran the German defenders. In the process they liberated the first house in occupied France.

Having captured the bridge the small company had to hold it against persistent German counter attack, with little or no heavy equipment and only the unreliable PIAT anti-tank weapon to ward off German armour. However, despite the tough assignment, Howard’s men managed to hold the bridge intact until reinforcements arrived, giving allied forces a vital crossing over the river Orne and Caen Canal.

Another key target for the 6th airborne was the Merville Battery, which was a strong German gun emplacement that posed a major threat to any attack on Sword beach. This task was handed to the 9th parachute battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway. The German gun batteries were heavily defended and an ambitious plan of attack was conceived. After RAF planes bombed the fortress, soldiers would parachute down behind the barbed wire while gliders landed in the complex itself. But little went as planned.

The RAF planes failed to bomb the gun batteries, and there was so much anti-aircraft fire that many planes veered off-course, dropping men far from the intended locations. Many drowned crossing an area recently flooded by Rommel, and soon only 150 men remained. Commander Otway considered pulling the mission, but decided that failure was not an option, and the men advanced.

Lacking equipment the force had to improvise. In a stunning example of the bravery that would be seen throughout D-Day, the men advanced into minefields with no detectors and managed to clear a route of attack without compromising the element of surprise.

Despite having far fewer men than anticipated, the quality of the training the men received came to the fore as the small force of airborne troops managed to take the battery and ensured that the Sword landings were free from the guns’ heavy fire.

Interestingly, the museum at Merville today carries a story about the German battery commander on D-Day. After hearing the first glider land he quickly telephoned his superior to ask for instructions. However, unhappy at being woken at such a late hour he was quickly told: “Go to sleep. One glider does not constitute an invasion.”

The Americans:
The US airborne forces comprised of two divisions – the 82nd and the 101st airborne divisions – and were tasked with securing the right flank of the landings in the Cotentin peninsula. Like all airborne forces on D-Day, these divisions suffered from widely dispersed drops and often units were without over 60% of their personnel. This made it difficult to carry out operational objectives. However, despite these problems, the airborne troops managed link up with amphibious forces at Utah beach and cause widespread chaos and confusion amongst the German ranks.

Perhaps the most famous operation carried out by the US airborne forces was the attack on Ste Mare Eglise. In a terrible twist of fate a group of American paratroopers were dropped directly on to the town and were left defenceless. As they floated downwards they were picked off one by one by the German defenders. This brutal scene would be immortalised in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Longest Day’.

Last edited by Von Vorschlag; 09-29-2007 at 02:40 PM.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2006, 06:48 AM
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As a German, I shudder at the thought what Europe would be like otherwise. My Father was a fighter pilot and told me of instances where allied planes would appear at German pilots funerals, or German planes at the funerals of allied pilots, not to attack, but dip their wings as a sign of respect. Teutone (aka Horst K)
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-07-2006, 07:53 AM
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My family is from Germany as well. My mom's aunt told me a story of an experience right after the war was over when she was going to a neighboring town with her sister and was shot at by American planes. They circled back and forth a few times taking pot shots at two defenseless girls in the countryside. They had to jump off of their bikes and dive into the ditch.

Gung ho idiocy didn't start with Abu Graab.
We're so classy.
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