Tomorrow, June 6, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. It can be easy to trivialize events in history with dates and numbers as time passes and those whose memories of the events are still fresh in the minds pass on to their heavenly reward. It is therefore up to us, the next generation, that should not only honor their sacrifices by remembering their courage but also by keeping alive the values and virtues that made that generation the greatest generation of Americans.
Here are some facts about D-Day*:
1. D-day marked the first time that an invading army crossed the English Channel since 1688 when a Dutch fleet was on its way to invade England. It also marked the largest amphibious operation in history. More than 150,000 men and about 30,000 vehicles crossed the channel; about half of these brave men were Americans.
2. “D” stands for day of the invasion, which was supposed to be June 5, 1944 but inclement weather forced the Allies to postpone to June 6, 1944.
3. Operation Overlord is the military Codename for the Allied invasion of Europe. The amphibian assault component of the invasion started on D-day and was codenamed Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune consisted of almost 7,000 vessels that supported the amphibian invasion.
4. Operation Pointblank was designed to achieve aerial superiority during the invasion by crippling Germany air force through bombardment.
5. Operation Bodyguard was an elaborate operation designed to prevent the Germans from learning the Allied plans for the invasion. The Germans had about 55 divisions ready to meet and repel the expected Allied invasion. It was an intelligence coup to keep the plans for Operation Overlord under wrap since the Allied forces could only land about 8 divisions during the first wave. Note Operation Fortitude was part of the larger Operation Bodyguard.
6. In the months preceding D-Day Allied forces lost about 12,000 men and over 2,000 aircraft in various military operations that made possible the invasion of Normandy
7. According to the US National D-Day Foundation the total personnel killed on D-Day was 4,413. That is 2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 from other Allied nations. This is a much higher estimate than the generally accepted estimate of about 2,500.
8. About 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles landed in Normandy supporting the efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.
9. D-Day was a logistical coup. It took millions of men and woman in Allied countries to help prepare for the invasion.
10. According to the Veteran’s Administration there are only 1.2 million WWII veterans remaining from the 16 million who bravely served during WWII. It is sobering to learn that it is estimated that they are dying at a rate of more than 550 a day.
God Bless our veterans and this great Country of ours.
*I obtained many of the facts listed above from the following sources:
The National WWII Museum
PBS’s American Experience
The History Channel
Also for more information visit the excellent blog: Pacific Paratrooper. If you are inspired and have the opportunity I highly recommend you to visit the D-day Museum in New Orleans.