Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

JUNE 6, 1944, THE LONGEST DAY

leave a comment »

A long time reader suggested some history posts instead of the GOP follies. It would be a nice break. And the timing is perfect, today is the 77th anniversary of the greatest seaborne invasion in history, Operation Overlord, the Allied landings in Normandy in German occupied France during the second World War. And I know a lot about it, as it was a famous battle in my favorite war.  I’ve probably covered most if not all of the following in previous blogs, but there’s always the possibility of a new reader or two.

So yes, D-Day was the largest amphibious landing in history. 24,000 paratroopers landed the night before, and 156,000 men (and one woman we know of) waded ashore on D-Day. About 4,000 of them died, another 6,000 were seriously injured. About a thousand Germans died, and thousands more were wounded. And several thousand French civilians also died. A pretty modest death toll for a single day of fighting actually. While thousands more would die in the weeks to come, it wasn’t a particularly deadly battle compared to numerous other battles. Hell, over 20,000 died in one day at the Battle of Towton, and that was in 1461.

D-Day also has the distinction of being the most carefully planned military operation in history. Years were spent preparing for it. All sorts of special weapons and equipment were invented for just this one battle. Hell, hundreds died in preparation for the battle. How many battles had over 700 dead preparing for the battle? Damn few, so D-Day might be the worst in history in this regard too. On the plus side, the double catastrophes in Exercise Tiger taught the Allies valuable lessons, and no doubt saved hundreds if not thousands of lives on D-Day.

And since D-Day was so well planned, it really couldn’t fail. While Ike (the overall commander) did have a message pre-written in case the landing failed, there really wasn’t any realistic chance of that. The German defences weren’t even remotely finished, the Germans had fallen for the Allies misdirection and concentrated their defences elsewhere, and overwhelming Allied air power and French resistance attacks crippled the German ability to rush reinforcements to Normandy. The Allies flew over 10,000 air missions on D-Day, the Luftwaffe, a 100 or so. No contest. The only real way the invasion could have failed is if spectacularly bad weather had set in for weeks after the landing grounding the Allies air power. None of this diminishes the accomplishments of those who took part in the invasion, it was a hard fought battle.

Some Americans love to claim D-Day was the “turning point” in the war. No, no it wasn’t. Stalingrad and Kursk were the turning points in the war. By the summer of 1944 the Russian juggernaut was rolling inevitably toward Berlin, it was just a matter of time. D-Day hastened the end of the Third Reich, and meant Western Europe and West Germany didn’t become Soviet occupied countries, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the war. D-Day was the beginning of the end for Hitler is a good way to think about it.

In the same vein Americans often think D-Day was an American affair. In “Saving Private Ryan” for example, the British are only mentioned once, disparagingly; and the Canadians aren’t mentioned at all. In point of fact, five beaches were invaded that day, two by Americans, two by the British, and one by Canadians. While America certainly provided the lion’s share of troops and weapons for the western Allies, only about 40% of the troops wading ashore on 6 June 1944 were American.

Lastly, a nice story. There were lots of specials about D-Day on the 50th anniversary in 1994. I remember one story. There was a kid from I think Nebraska who waded ashore on D-Day. He survived, and the war ended. He had some leave before returning to America. He decided to visit Normandy because he had been struck by how beautiful the countryside was. (Pretty much anyone who grew up in Nebraska will think that way about almost anywhere but Nebraska, but I digress.) Well, while there he met this nice French girl, and the rest is history. He was still happily living there as of 1994. And I bet he never had to pay for his drinks at local bars.

In any event, tonight I will drink to all that fought that day. God rest the souls of those who died. Well, all but the Nazis. I still think Nazis are bad, call me old fashioned. #getvaccienatedcovid19 #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: American dead on Utah Beach.  Note the body has been tagged with information about who he was, when and where he died, etc. Real people died that day, war really is madness. Credit: Probably Robert Capa.)

Written by unitedcats

June 6, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: