June 6, 1944 – D-Day

Looking up the bluff from the beach

I didn’t want the anniversary of D-Day to pass without comment. Below is a repeat of the post I did today for the LowellDeeds blog. Above and far below are photos from a family visit to Normandy back in 2004.

The Allied invasion of Normandy – D-Day – occurred 68 years ago today. In the pre-dawn hours, thousands of British and American paratroopers jumped into the dark and stormy night. Though they mostly landed far from their designated drop zones and in scattered small bunches, their mere presence was enough to disrupt the German response. At dawn, thousands more troops came ashore in landing craft. While none had it easy, those landing on the beach code named Omaha had the worst of it. Back in 2004 during a visit to France I stood at the waterline on Omaha Beach at low tide and looked inward. The steep slop of a ridge marked the edge of the beach and was visible as far as you could see to both east and west (Omaha Beach faces north). That the American troops were able to get off the beach at all was miraculous. The thousands of white crosses in the cemetery at the top of that ridge are reminders of the cost of getting off that beach.

The exact cost in lives of D-Day is tough to calculate because of the scale and sophistication of the operation. Here is one account of US casualties that day:

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.

So please take a moment today to pause and remember all those who were lost as well as all who participated in D-Day on June 6, 1944.

From the top of the bluff, looking down to the beach

3 Responses to June 6, 1944 – D-Day

  1. Joe80s says:

    Fantastic Dick. Possibly the greatest moment in the Post-Civil War history of our country. Wonderful depiction of events on that day. Great pictures. Definitely on my bucket list. Thank you.

  2. DickH says:

    If you’re interested in history, especially the history of World War Two, a visit to Normandy should be high up on your vacation “to do” list. A couple of observations: it’s a big place and the distances and travel time involved are deceptive so you need plenty of time to get a sense of the place. Driving is not too bad if you would feel up to handling a rental car and having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to stop at some of the more obscure places you spot along the road that you would otherwise miss if you were part of a tour that had a tight schedule and fixed destinations. But any visit would be worth it, even if only a day trip from Paris. The number one thing to see would be Omaha Beach. The cemetery just off the beach is a very moving, spiritual place, but standing on the beach itself and getting your own sense of the distances and heights involved with the geography of the place really help you better understand the histories you read and the documentaries you view for the rest of your life.